Allan Litman was appointed mayor of Mesquite last week, filling the seat vacated when Mark Weir resigned his post after moving to St. George. Originally from Duluth, Minn., Litman moved to Mesquite in 2004 after living in Los Angeles and Hawaii. He also served in Vietnam, where he was decorated with a Bronze Star for valor and an Air Medal for flying in numerous combat flights with the First Calvary (Airmobile).
In 2011, then Councilman Litman was elected to a two-year City Council term. In 2013, Litman was re-elected and was slated to serve until November 2018. In his new capacity as Mayor, he will serve until the next scheduled municipal election in November 2016. In his first week on the job, Litman sat down with Mesquite Local News for an interview.
Q: So what was the process that led to you becoming mayor?
A: There really wasn’t much of a process. We knew that the prior mayor had intentions of resigning. It was just a matter of when he was going to resign because of his job commitment and lifestyle changes up in St George. Basically, the way it’s done is the council selects through nomination the councilmember who desires to be mayor. I suppose it could be everyone throws their hands up the air and says ‘We don’t want it.’ Then you’ve got to go to the outside. Of course, the mayor pro tem is in place because there has to be someone in place. You query with one another, ‘Are you interested?’ ‘Are you interested?’ I said, ‘Yes I would be.’ Giving up a four and half year remaining term for a two and a half year term was something to consider. I thought ‘That’s fine.’ It was voted on at council and I was nominated and it was unanimous. And here I am for the next two and a half years.
Q: So did you have interest in becoming mayor?
A: It’s not the kind of job that you’re going to have twist somebody’s arm to take. Either you want it or you don’t want it. But I would have been content had I not gotten it to stay on the council for the next four and a half years, or perhaps in two and a half years run for the office. You never know.
Q: How is your role going to change.
A: In this form of government here, the mayor doesn’t have the right to vote unless it’s a tie, or the mayor can use his veto, which is not something I would care to do although it could be done. My role will be more of a motivator, advisor to the council more than anything else. We’ve got a very good city council here. We operate a little different than others. We don’t put our heads together, which is illegal in the first place because of open meeting laws and know what we’re going to do ahead of time. I’ve never asked a councilperson how they’re going to vote on an issue. I will be out in the public a lot because I don’t have another job and part of the role as the mayor is to promote your city and be out there. This is what’s going on in Mesquite. Nothing against the prior mayor, but he had a full-time job. It makes it very, very difficult.
Q: So you’ll be out and about more?
A: Oh yes. And I’ll be maintaining an office, which wasn’t done much prior because, again, you can’t be in two places at the same time. In the last couple of days, I’ve given up one of my other responsibilities. I was president and founder of the Mesquite Veterans Center with an office there. I resigned Wednesday. And they knew this was going to come about because you’ve got to know your limitations. You can’t be in two places at the same time and do a decent job.
Q: And what will happen to this position?
A: They’ve already appointed someone. There’s another gentleman who has put in a lot of hours over there and enjoys it. I said I would provide any consultation that they may need. It was kind of my baby, but my responsibilities are here.
Q: Have you set a schedule for your hours at the city?
A: I haven’t set them yet. One thing nice about Mesquite is my home is about three and half minutes as the crow flies from here. It’s not a big deal to be here.
Q: Will you be able to keep representing Mesquite on the Southern Nevada Health District Board of Directors and the Civilian Military Council for Nellis Air Force base?
A: I will maintain those appointments. The term on the Southern Nevada Health District board runs, I believe, until June 2015. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will stay with that appointment. And I will stay with Nellis, which is not a time-consuming appointment at all. And the mayor was a full-time appointee to the Nevada League of Cities. I will probably become a full time appointee.
Q: What’s the process in replacing your seat on the council?
A: It’s strictly by application. And I think at this point we have four names that have applied. I think they have until the end of this week to apply. And the council will select from that number who have applied. There will be no special election. You’re looking at a $40,000, $45,000 expenditure for a special election. We’re certainly not in that budget situation.
Q: Would the person who fills that position keep the seat through its duration?
A: That is still being looked and may have to go to the voters’ commission to find out. Just to make sure, but we expect November 2016. But I asked the city clerk to verify it.
Q: How long have you been in Mesquite?
A: I bought property here in 2003 and started construction in late 2003 and moved here full-time in July of 2004. It will be in 10 years in July. At this stage of life, I’m not going anywhere. This is it.
Q: What do you like best about living here?
A: I like the feel of a small town. There’s closeness here. It’s a friendly town. When we moved here, we didn’t know one person. A lot of people asked, ‘How did you get to Mesquite. Did you have family here?’ We didn’t know anybody. It looked nice and we decided to take a chance. We were here a day and people were saying ‘How are you?’ It was just a nice feel. I’ve lived in big cities before and it was a totally different environment. Mesquite has a good feel and you’ve got to be here to see it. If somebody in the community has a health issue or some kind of financial disaster, people get together to help out. You don’t see that in the big city.
Q: What are some of the issues facing Mesquite, or things that could be better?
A: Everything can always be better. The biggest problem I see with Mesquite is what direction do we want to take. What do we want to become. This was a little, tiny community and has only been incorporated since 1984. So it’s a relatively new city and had miniscule population up until 15 years ago and all of a sudden the growth started. I’m not sure that we’ve actually decided what we want to be when we grow up. Now things have slowed down, but we’re still the fastest growing community in Clark County. We grew over 4 percent last year. So we’re coming back. Now we have to decide which direction we want to go. You hear a lot about, well we don’t have a lot of big companies wanting to come here. But we don’t have a lot of people to go to work here either. We just found that out. It’s a small workforce. There are not a lot of people out of work in Mesquite and I don’t believe there are a lot of people looking for work.
Q: What does Mesquite relate to?
A: We’re rural Nevada and were extremely rural Nevada until a few years ago with a population of a few thousand people. We’re 80 miles away from Las Vegas that’s another world. We’re a slow pace. We don’t have Vegas issues. We don’t have the hustle and bustle. We don’t have the crime.