Updated January 8, 2021 - 11:10 am
Calling 2020 “an extremely difficult year,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Thursday vowed not to give up on restoring the full vision for the city as she delivered a message brimming with optimism for 2021.
As a sign of the times, Goodman gave her 10th State of the City address in a nearly hourlong prerecorded taping instead of the typical speech in person from City Hall.
Goodman said the city was “ready to welcome the world back,” hoping that it could do so this year and return to the booming economy that was derailed by a global pandemic that has far from subsided as vaccines begin to roll out. Nevada reported a record 3,402 new coronavirus cases Thursday over the preceding day.
“Many have been forced out of work by closures. Others have been struggling just to make ends meet. Too many have lost their jobs — others, their businesses — and all too many their entire life savings,” Goodman said. “Too many have drowned.”
The mayor, who told the Review-Journal in November that Gov. Steve Sisolak has been a “dictator,” has often been critical of statewide restrictions enacted to curb the spread of the virus, which she said have devastated the local economy.
Goodman, who did not criticize regulations Thursday, said the city has nonetheless been in full compliance with all mandates. She, herself, has faced condemnation for how she has responded to the pandemic, infamously saying in an April interview with CNN that she had offered the city as a control group to test whether social distancing was working.
Message of hope
In her address Thursday, Goodman said the city had heard from thousands of residents asking for help.
“From the pandemic to job and business losses, everyone has felt the unrelenting and enormous impact, the angst, the panic but nonetheless demonstrating an incredible resiliency of hope,” she said. “As we move into 2021, I can tell you that I believe that the future of our city will be very bright once again.”
She called on residents to “remain constant in our commitment to our city and to each other,” thanked the mayors of neighboring cities for their collaboration, and noted how Las Vegas had routinely proven throughout its history that it can change.
“This chameleon-like ability to adapt has always served us so well,” she said. “And that was more evident than ever this past year as we faced a worldwide pandemic.”
In a video that resembled a tourism ad, with cutaways to city landmarks and an uplifting soundtrack, Goodman highlighted the city’s response to the pandemic and how it had addressed key municipal issues such as education and infrastructure.
In the most somber moments of the recorded speech, she remembered former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who was instrumental in redeveloping downtown, and Las Vegas Police Lt. Erik Lloyd, who died after complications of COVID-19.
A monument for Lloyd was erected at Police Memorial Park in the city’s Ward 4.
Federal aid for worst affected
The city used federal coronavirus relief funding last year to bankroll grants for 1,500 small businesses and offer housing assistance while providing more than 2,200 individual nights of acute observation for homeless individuals at the Clark County-partnered ISO-Q Complex at Cashman Field.
State lawmakers in October questioned the city’s spending of the CARES Act dollars, however, because the vast majority went to public safety payrolls.
Development, changes continue
Even as the city faces an economic crisis, perhaps the worst in its history, development has not stopped: Circa, the 777-room resort-casino, opened downtown in October, and the city’s $56 million municipal courthouse is set to open in May.
The “brewery district” within the city’s Arts District is promising, the long-shuttered Huntridge Theater was sold, and the Strong Start Pre-K Academy is in the works.
Goodman also noted the city’s Hundred Plan, the comprehensive economic and cultural project for the Historic Westside, as well as infrastructure initiatives including the city’s largest public works project ever — a $109 million improvement of Las Vegas Boulevard from Sahara Avenue north to U.S. Highway 95.
And during last year’s address, Goodman said the city was intent on putting “health and safety first” after six people were killed in the downtown Alpine Motel Apartments fire. Months later, the City Council adopted a new program to help ensure that multifamily residential complexes were routinely inspected for code and fire safety.
“Las Vegans are no strangers to challenges, and with regularity we have always worked together to overcome these challenges, no matter the odds,” Goodman said. “We will not give up on reclaiming what we had or where we were before the pandemic, nor will we abandon, in the smallest manner, the vision of what Las Vegas can be again.”