3 council candidates test voter appeal in Las Vegas Ward 5

Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear listens to public comment after being sworn in as Ward 5 councilman during a council meeting Wednesday, April 18, 2018. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal Thorns is photographed at the Las Vegas Review-Journal offices on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal

Of four Las Vegas council seats up for election Tuesday, the least clustered is Ward 5, where just an incumbent and two challengers will test their appeal among voters.

It is a ward where getting people to work, luring new development and preserving history are cornerstone issues. Councilman Cedric Crear, nonprofit director Henry Thorns and community activist Derek Washington each say they’re up for the task.

Crear, 49, said his priorities have not changed since winning a special election to the council a year ago, when he made reversing high unemployment a key platform. Since then, he points to his Ward 5 Works program — a plan via employer partnerships and career pathways to boost economic mobility for residents — as a good start.

Crear rattled off related initiatives this week including a workforce center to be built adjacent to the Historic Westside School, with emphasis on tech training and job placement. And he’s trying to convince the Nevada System of Higher Education to use a library building on Las Vegas Boulevard as a satellite campus, once the library moves to another location.

He said he wants to build affordable housing on the Historic Westside after the city acquired contiguous parcels, examine microlending opportunities to jump start business growth and make the F Street underpass — the thoroughfare leading into West Las Vegas that is roiled by homeless encampments — more appealing to the community.

Victories in the past year range from minor — traffic improvements on Washington Avenue near Lorenzi Park — to major, such as the announcement in February that a new Marriott convention hotel was coming to Symphony Park.

“We have accomplished a lot in an extremely short period of time,” Crear said.

New direction

Thorns, 58, wants to bring the ward back without gentrification, noting a desire to return Ward 5 to prominence by following the lead of downtown, where redevelopment and tax breaks have brought new life.

A Democratic gubernatorial candidate last year, he lamented the need for livable wage jobs in a district he believed has been neglected for too long. Attracting new developers could help build basic amenities, like grocery stores, and a councilman should use his position to influence and partner with schools to improve education, he said.

“I’m a different kind of politician than them,” Thorns said of his challengers, “because I’m a people person.”

A Thorns administration, he added, will lead to a push for extending crosswalk times for seniors, more streetlights to improve safety and advocacy for young people as demonstrated in his nonprofit work to cater to young people at risk.

“I just want to see Ward 5 grow, get off its feet, because I’ve been here the majority of my life,” he said. “And I just want to see my friends — they’re older now like me — but their kids are all walking around like zombies, like where do we go from here?”

Washington, 55, identifies as a fiscally conservative activist. His last political work came in former Assemblyman Harvey Munford’s campaign for the seat against Crear last year.

“I’m not running against Cedric Crear, I want to make that clear,” Washington said. “I’m running for the community.”

He is pitching to voters his plan for affordable housing through inducing developers to build by lowering fees and using the model of Veterans Village as a blueprint, which has been successful converting shipping containers into dwellings for veterans.

In a district with a profusion of churches, Washington suggested partnering with faith-based groups to allow rent-paying businesses, like restaurants, to operate part-time out of churches during the week. It will give entrepreneurs a lesson on how to run a business, he said, and provide new revenues to churches during periods when services aren’t in session.

Washington added that he would like to usher in “First Sunday” events in the district akin to a family-friendly block party every week that can help rekindle community vibrancy, saying his mission will be to empower residents of the ward politically and economically while celebrating the history of the westside.

Shea Johnson at or. Follow on Twitter.

The primary election is April 2. about candidates .