The City Decides

A person in the know politically, who shall remain nameless, neatly summed up the Las Vegas mayor’s race the other day by telling me he was glad he lived outside city limits, because he’d have a hard time voting for either candidate come Election Day on June 7. Given that Carolyn Goodman and Chris Giunchigliani could not be more different, that may seem a bit of a head-scratcher. But it makes perfect sense if you’ve been paying attention.

Goodman is riding her husband’s coattails and has little original to say on the subject of being mayor. She’s demonstrated a sometimes-stunning lack of knowledge of the issues facing the city. When Jon Ralston challenged her on Face to Face on May 18, she mumbled something about Zappos and downtown. Then she glanced at her watch. She often comes across as aloof—or annoyed when the campaign calls upon her to pretend otherwise. Her qualifications are three: She founded and ran a successful private school, she’s not a politician and her last name is Goodman. She’s a consensus builder and would likely be a good face for the city, but you really have to wonder what besides her last name qualifies her for the job. Then again, what qualified Oscar, other than his passion for this city?

Giunchigliani is shrewd, sharp and abrasive. If you get in her way, she’ll run you over and swear at you for being in the road in the first place. She’s reliably liberal and staunchly pro-union, and that may be all that many voters need to know about her. Others will see her eight terms in the state Legislature and her current stint on the County Commission as proof that electing her means putting another lifelong politician in office. She’s steeped in the issues in a way that Goodman is not, and can rattle off facts and figures at an astonishing clip. But that doesn’t necessarily make her mayoral material, especially since we’ve all grown to love Oscar Goodman for his outsize personality, if not his often-questionable politics. Giunchigliani would make a good senatorial candidate. You have to wonder why she even wants to be mayor.

One candidate has the personality of a mayor; the other has the policy chops. Neither of them, from what we can see, has both. It’s easy to see why some people are happy to remain on the sidelines.