Early voting is underway in the North Las Vegas Mayor's race. Voters are choosing between incumbent mayor Mike Montandon or the political strategist Andres Ramirez. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.
SOUND: Ralston Show.
PLASKON: Getting Mayor Mike Montandon and his opponent Andres Ramirez to discuss the issues of North Las Vegas together hasn't been easy.
SOUND: Welcome back to Face to Face.
PLASKON: Montandon refused to appear on John Ralston's Face to Face to debate Ramirez. Ramirez went alone.
RALSTON/RAMIREZ: See we can see right here on Face to Face, here is your family and we could have asked Mayor Mike Montandon about it if he weren't a chicken. Ya he is a chicken and I hear his most recent rumor that I don't really have a family that I am paying people to pretend they are my family and those are the kinds of tactics that he and his republican party resort to.
PLASKON: Ramirez blasted Montandon for using city funds to buy a golf course, spending taxpayer dollars to lobby against a property tax cap and not disclosing conflicts of interest. One of those conflicts occurred when Montandon was appointed to the board of a North Las Vegas Railroad company that was negotiating for city contracts. Montandon told KNPR he wasn't aware of the activities of the company. But in January Kiplingers Personal Finance Magazine quoted Montandon, praising a multi-million dollar deal by the company. Montandon told KNPR that the quote fabricated by the company's overly aggressive PR department. He didn't take the chance to defend his conflict of interest on Ralston's show.
RALSTON/RAMIREZ: And we would like to hear his independent thoughts but an incumbent, two term incumbent is chicken to come on here on his own against someone who is barely wet behind the ears.
PLASKON: Ramirez is only 27 years old and with the median age of North Las Vegas at 28 he has used his age as an advantage, but he has no political record for Montandon to attack. In an interview with KNPR Montandon explains why he wouldn't debate.
MONTANDON: So the only reason for him to get into a debate is to create a forum for him I am willing to talk about issues anywhere but I am not going to create a free forum for him.
PLASKON: Both Montandon and Ramirez have the same vision for North Las Vegas.
MONTANDON: To make North Las Vegas a place where people choose to live.
PLASKON: Both agree that North Las Vegans have moved there because its cheap, but its not their choice. Montandon says things are getting better, Ramirez says they aren't.
RAMIREZ: The further you keep going south from our neighborhoods and they keep getting worse and worse and worse until you get to city hall and those neighborhoods have been absolutely neglected for the past 8 years.
MONTANDON: It's just not the case.
PLASKON: Mayor Montandon.
MONTANDON: You just pick the streets, Cary, Las Vegas Boulevard we have put in more streets than the rest of north Las Vegas. It's just an example of the lies he tells, you tell people that I have neglected downtown and they believe it.
PLASKON: Ramirez accuses Montandon of lies too.
MONTANDON: I can tell you that the campaign has been much dirtier than I expected.
PLASKON: Since Ramirez has no political background to attack, Montandon points to Ramirez not signing a code of Fair Campaign Practices at the time Ramirez filed to run for Mayor. It says that a candidate won't attack the other candidate's character.
MONTANDON: I have gone back for the last ten years and I can't find anyone who has not signed that document.
PLASKON: But Montandon has been in office for eight of those 10 years and Ramirez sent KNPR a copy of the signed document. Ramirez has caught Montandon off guard in the campaign. He bought a web site that Montandon had written in campaign literature as his own. He also approached houses where Montandon's campaign signs were displayed and with the permission of property owners, Ramirez replaced more than 20 of Montandon's 6-foot signs with vote for Ramirez signs. Montandon filed a police complaint about it.
RAMIREZ: We have run a very aggressive campaign, the mayor has said publicly that I have managed to annoy him.
PLASKON: What annoys both of the candidates is that despite their efforts to polarize the public, few North Las Vegas residents will officially choose a side. Only 8-thousand of the city's 180-thousand residents are expected to vote.
MONTANDON: The apathy is just pathetic.
PLASKON: Montandon says he would gladly lose if the city could turn out tens of thousands of active voters.
Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR