By Kent Larsen
Mormon Candidate Wins North Las Vegas City Council Seat
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- LDS Church member Robert Eliason was elected
Tuesday to one of four seats on the North Las Vegas City Council, ending a
campaign filled with criminal allegations against his opponent, John Rhodes,
and charges of racism and "negative" campaigning against Eliason. But some
city officials expect the elections to end years of infighting on the
council, "It's going to be great," said City Councilwoman Shari Buck, also
an LDS Church member. "Now we can focus on moving ahead and putting the past
in the past."
Eliason won the election with 4,528 votes, just over 61% of those cast and
nearly 2,000 more than his opponent. Nearly 20% of the city's registered
electorate of 37,635 turned out to vote.
Rhodes has been under fire since an October 11th story in the Las Vegas Sun
indicated that he had been reimbursed by the city for purchasing a palm
pilot, which he then later included on an insurance claim. The incident has
led to three felony charges of insurance fraud against Rhodes.
Eliason at first promised that he would not bring up the legal charges
during the campaign, but after neither man secured a majority in an April
primary, he started mentioning the charges in his campaign, printing
headlines from the Sun on some of his campaign literature. This led Rhodes
supporters to complain about negative campaigning, favoritism towards
Mormons, because Eliason's election puts 3 Mormons on the council, and
racism, because Rhodes is black.
Rhodes supporter Rev. Gary Hunter, discounted the charges, "All of us have
faults, skeletons in our closets," Hunter said. "What's to say (Eliason)
doesn't have trunks of skeletons in his? John has served his community
well." Hunter characterizes the use of the charges against Rhodes as blatant
racism by those who want a white candidate in office.
After Rhodes conceded the election Tuesday night, the mayor and other city
council members, who hadn't taken a position in the election, came to
Eliason's victory celebration to congratulate him, "Robert is the kind of
person who's not going to be wheeling and dealing," said councilman William
Robinson, who is also black. "He is what this city needs."
In addition to Eliason, council members Shari Buck and Stephanie Smith are
Mormon, as is Mayor Michael Montandon.
Rhodes loses council seat
Las Vegas NV Sun 6Jun01 T2
By Diana Sahagun: Las Vegas Sun
Officials, weary of infighting, eagerly welcome Eliason