I have had the opportunity to attend two candidate nights over the past several weeks and anticipate more in the near future.
Many of the questions presented to the candidates had nothing to do with the office they already hold or seek. Of course, each candidate can give their opinion on any matter, but it is somewhat unfair to expect answers on subjects they have no control over.
A good example were the numerous questions regarding the Virgin Valley Water Board, a non-public utility that we depend on for all of our water supply in Mesquite. The make-up of the board is left up to the respective voters of their communities, not the city council of Mesquite. Some questions related to federal matters, and others to the county and the Board of Education.
The reason for this article is to briefly clarify the duties of a councilperson and the mayor in a General Law City that operates under the Nevada Revised Statutes. In Nevada there are seven cities of this nature: Ely, Fallon, Fernley, Lovelock, Mesquite, West Wendover, and Winnemucca.
A General Law city does not have its own charter. We are governed under state constitutional provisions, specifically those of Nevada. We are granted some home rule, but not for financial matters.
Confusing? Somewhat, but I’ll continue.
Our population makes us a class two city with a five-member council and a mayor elected by the people. The mayor is the chief executive but with very limited powers. The mayor has no vote with the exception of a tie. The mayor can use the veto power but the council with a four-to-one vote can overturn it. The council is the legislative branch. The council and the mayor are in non-partisan positions regardless of their registered preference.
The council votes on ordinances, resolutions and the general business of the city. Council members attend technical review meetings that are open to the public, council meetings, and serve on commissions and boards as appointed by the mayor. Most board and commission meetings take place in Las Vegas and take considerable travel time. Council members are part-time and often hold full-time jobs.
Here is how the mayor fits in. Under Nevada Revised Statutes 266.165, the chief executive is the mayor. NRS 266.190 regulates the general duties of the mayor. The mayor sees that all general laws and ordinances of the city are observed and enforced.
The mayor takes all proper measures for the preservation of public peace and order. The mayor may appoint police on a temporary basis and use and take command if necessary.
The mayor signs licenses, warrants, and claims against the city. The mayor sees that all contracts are kept and faithfully performed. The mayor also performs other duties if prescribed by ordinance.
The mayor reports to the city council in the State of the City Address yearly. It need not be delivered in person but may be done in writing. The mayor does not negotiate any contracts or participate in labor negotiations or disputes. The mayor does not hire or fire. The position of the mayor is considered part-time.
Back to the city council and what they DON’T do. The council does not participate in labor negotiations, job creation or economic development. They are, as mentioned before, the legislative branch of city government. The same holds true of the mayor.
None of what I have discussed is necessarily the choice of any of us. Everything we do is governed by the Nevada Revised Statutes. To do otherwise would be in violation of those statutes. We are sworn to uphold these statutes.
Serving this community is a privilege that all of us have undertaken. It certainly is not for the money, and hopefully, not for any other type of personal gain.