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North Las Vegas clerk rejects petition to put rent control on ballot

Citing insufficient valid signatures, North Las Vegas on Monday rejected a petition to put rent control on the city’s November ballot.

But the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 — which launched the ballot initiative in May to tie year-over-year rent increases to the city’s consumer price index and capping them at 5 percent — contested North Las Vegas City Clerk Jackie Rodgers’ decision to not certify the petition, arguing that the 3,396 signatures it submitted were more than enough.

“We will not be deterred,” wrote union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge in a news release. “The Culinary Union stands with North Las Vegas residents who have requested an immediate review of the finding of insufficiency and we are confident justice will prevail.”

The union, through its attorneys, is asking the city to reject the clerk’s determination and allow the measure to appear on the November ballot.

“We’ve been in contact with the Culinary Union who requested the City Council review this certificate, and that will be happening in an upcoming council meeting,” North Las Vegas spokesman Patrick Walker told the Review-Journal.

The council next meets Aug. 3.

The disagreement stems from the interpretation of the number of petition signatures needed to advance a ballot measure.

Nevada law puts that number at 15 percent or more of the voters who participated in the previous “city election.”

Rodgers claims 3,968 signatures were needed, citing June’s primary election numbers, and notes that the union only submitted 2,678 signatures that were deemed valid, according to review of a sample of 500 of them. But the union, which said it had consulted with Rodgers before launching the initiative, considers the previous city election to be the general election of June 2019, when only one race was on the ballot. The proper number, it says, should be just 475 valid signatures.

In support, the union cites the Nevada Constitution, which specifies the “last preceding general county or municipal election,” as well as state law. The union’s attorneys also argued that the Culinary’s signature gatherers would have had no idea what their target was, since they filed the petition in May but the primary took place June 14, and wasn’t certified until June 29, just two days before the deadline to file the petitions.

In her rejection letter, Rodgers also noted that the proposed ordinance was different in style than the one submitted, but Culinary attorneys argued that a few extra words, the use of bold face type and pagination differences affected neither the fiscal analysis or the ability of voters to understand what they were signing. “They do not — standing alone or in combination — form a valid basis for ruling the petition insufficient.”

The ballot initiative, which would allow voters in the fourth most populous city in Nevada to decide to codify rent control, comes amid skyrocketing rent increases in Southern Nevada. Las Vegas Valley renters saw a median increase of more than 25 percent from February 2021 to February 2022, making it one of the highest spikes among the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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