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Race for council to begin

Call the recent Presidential Preference Primary and the Republican Caucus the amuse-bouche of the 2024 election year — interesting and entertaining but essentially meaningless and not really part of the actual meal.

But in the next few weeks, the local political meal will begin to move inexorably toward the main course scheduled for November.

The next course is set to start serving on March 4. That is the day when qualified Boulder City residents can begin pulling papers to put their name on the ballot for one of the two city council seats that will be up for election this year.

Interested parties must be “qualified electors” (i.e., eligible to vote) in Boulder City and need to have been residents for at least two years immediately prior to the election. They can’t hold any other elected public office or be an employee or officer of the city who gets paid. The lone exception is for sitting members of the city council running for a second term.

Putting one’s hat into the ring is a pretty simple process. Go to the office of the city clerk in City Hall during business hours (7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, City Hall is closed on Fridays) between Monday, March 4 and Thursday, March 14. Just note that while the city clerk’s office is open until 6 p.m., the cutoff on March 14 is 5 p.m. Or, filing can be done online at https://www.nvsos.gov/SoSCandidateServices/AnonymousAccess/CF/CandidateFiling.aspx. You need to present a valid driver’s license or government-issued ID with your picture and home address listed. A current utility bill, bank statement, pay stub or other document issued by a government entity (not including a voter registration card) that includes your name and home address can also be used to establish residency. Present one of those and pay a $25 filing fee and, voila!, you’re on the ballot.

For the convicted felons out there, you can run, too. State law changed in 2019 and felons get their voting rights restored automatically upon their release from prison. Just don’t get convicted while in office because, under the city charter, if someone ceases to have the qualification of office (i.e., if they move out of town or take a paid job with the city) or if they are convicted of a felony, their office is vacated. If that were to happen or if the office were to become empty for reasons of, say, resignation or death, the council would appoint a new member to fill the rest of the term.

There is no requirement in Nevada for prospective candidates to gather or present signatures of people supporting their candidacy.

There are two seats open this year, the ones currently held by Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox. Also, while all current members of the council are registered as Republicans, this likely just reflects a larger pattern in Boulder City. Council seats and elections are both non-partisan and at-large. There are no council districts based on location. All council members and the mayor serve the entire city.

Once the number of candidates is known, the process moves to the next step. Assuming there are more than double the number of candidates than the number of open seats, then everyone runs in a primary scheduled this year for June 11.

In the case that there are four or fewer candidates, then there would be no primary for council and all candidates would move on to the general election scheduled for Nov. 5. If there are five or more candidates, then they all run in the primary and the top four vote-getters move on to the general election.

If there are not enough candidates for a council primary, there would still be a primary election in June, but the only “local” seat on the ballot would be for justice of the peace, which is actually a county position. (Watch for a deeper look at the race for justice of the peace, the impending retirement of longtime BC Municipal Judge Victor Miller and how the offices of justice and judge are —or are not, really —related in the coming weeks.)

Note that, while council and mayoral terms are all four years per the city charter, both Jorgensen and Fox are are serving shortened terms of three years and five months. This is due to Boulder City changing its election schedule to align with other Clark County elections. This was done, per City Clerk Tami McKay, as a way to save significant amounts of money.

“As of 2022,” McKay said, “everyone has transitioned and we are on all even-numbered year elections. Municipal elections used to be in odd-numbered years but this makes things much easier and it’s a big cost saving to cities. As cities now we only have to pay for ballot questions and if there is a special election, we have to pay the entire cost.”

Staff has asked the council to consider placing a ballot question on the November ballot that would give the city the ability to tap on-hand-but-uncommitted money in the Capital Improvement Fund to cover the gap between available funds and the anticipated total cost of construction of a new municipal pool. If the council adopts a resolution calling for a ballot question, that cost (about $25,000) would be borne by the city.

All current members of the city council are serving first terms, so the state term-limit law, which says no one can serve in the same position for more than 12 years, does not come into play and will not until at least 2032 assuming everyone now in office continues to run for re-election.

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