The city of North Las Vegas is not what it used to be. Currently, in the state of Nevada, North Las Vegas is the fourth largest city. Michael Montandon has been the mayor of North Las Vegas for 10 years. In a recent interview, he discussed everything from new develoments to future goals.
What were you doing before you became mayor?
Well, I was a commercial real estate appraiser in Arizona for eight years. Then we moved to Las Vegas and I worked in-house for Bank of America for four years. This is a high-growth town and I felt it needed someone with a background in land use and planning. I was trying to help find that person and the finger kept pointing to me.
What is your biggest challenge?
Keeping up with infrastructure and the real challenge in that is educating the public about how the systems really work. People say, “Just build more parks, roads and get ahead of the planning.” Coincidentally, the people bring in the taxes that pay for infrastructure. Every developer has to plan their sewer, street lights, streets, water lines and they have to work. Well, each works individually, but sometimes after you build them all together, they don’t always work.
How is the development boom affecting North Las Vegas?
We have housing developments coming out our ears. We have everything from small developers getting started building 10 to 20 acres, to Olympia Group building 2,675 acres. Obviously, Aliante was very successful with 1,975 acres and Eldorado with 1,000 acres. We are finally coming of our own and getting offices and retail, and hopefully, some hotels.
How is the city recruiting businesses to North Las Vegas?
Everyway we possibly can. If there is an economic development tool out there – we are using it. We have research, outreach and in-house economic development teams. We hire outside consultants to do buyer surveys and distribute those to retail developers to find out where people in North Las Vegas shop.
Is North Las Vegas selective in the businesses it accepts?
We are a little bit picky, but we don’t go out searching for certain types of businesses. We have a lot of Regional Distribution Centers (RDCs) that are coming to town. We love them – they are a low resource. But per square-foot, they don’t add as many jobs as some of the other types of businesses. If it’s a high-tech business and we are getting higher paying jobs per square-foot, we are after them.
What are your future goals?
To have people look across the valley and choose to live here. We want better parks and safety so that people want to live here. Aliante has set the standard. People drive from Henderson to use the “dinosaur park” in Aliante.
Your third term is over in 2009, do you plan on staying in politics?
The thought of going into politics never crossed my mind, but now I love it. I have trouble envisioning myself out of politics. I also never thought I would enjoy public speaking – I hated it at first. It grows on you and now I have fun with it.