PAMELA A. GOYNES-BROWN – First black woman elected to the North Las Vegas City Council
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
Born on a Navajo reservation in Utah, Pamela A. Goynes-Brown is making Nevada history as the first black woman elected to the North Las Vegas City Council.
It is a long way from the days when her parents, Theron and Naomi Goynes, taught school on an Indian reservation before moving to Las Vegas in 1964. At the time, young Pamela was just 2 years old. Coming from a legacy of educators, Goynes-Brown has followed in her parents’ footsteps — first as a teacher, and now assistant principal at Jesse D. Scott Elementary School.
Her recent political success is also a family heritage: her father, a former mayor pro-tem, served on the North Las Vegas City Council for 22 years.
“It is so exciting — beyond words — to be elected to the North Las Vegas City Council Ward 2 seat,” said Goynes-Brown. “This is a new adventure for me, and I look at it as a new chapter in my life. I have a consistent adrenaline flow going on inside of me. It is so much fun.”
What didn’t seem like fun — and caused considerable controversy during the council race — was the moment it was discovered that two candidates in the council primary election received the same number of votes. The tie forced them to pull from a deck of cards to determine an opponent for Goynes-Brown in a runoff.
“Coming out of the primary election, I was the top vote-getter,” said Goynes-Brown. “The whole incident with the tie vote between two of my opponents reminds me and others that every vote does count. I was just happy that I didn’t have to go through that. Nevertheless, it is the state [law] to declare a winner, in the case of a tie vote, [by pulling] the highest number from a deck of cards. We just have to follow that until it is changed, and that will have to be a legislative process. We just can’t go in there and say we don’t like it and have it changed.”
North Las Vegas is currently under great pressure to balance its city budget, amid growing concerns that the state might take over the city’s affairs if local officials are unable to get its financial affairs in order. Nonetheless, Goynes-Brown is optimistic that North Las Vegas will prevail, citing new efforts to diversify the economy.
“I just took a tour of the new Ganix Shrimp Farm that has opened in North Las Vegas and it is fascinating,” she said. “The farm is manufacturing shrimp for Las Vegas and North Las Vegas while creating needed jobs. Also, talks are taking place for renewable energy plants to be located in North Las Vegas. Business developments such as this and attracting new small businesses to our city will be sure to boost our economy.”
As Goynes-Brown sees it, North Las Vegas and the city of Las Vegas should maintain a collaborative relationship. “I think the city of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas are more inclusive,” she said. “The biggest challenge for North Las Vegas government, currently, is balancing our budget.”
Primarily attributing North Las Vegas’ economic challenges to the high foreclosure and unemployment rates, Goynes-Brown is confident those issues will be addressed. “One thing that I want to make sure is that job training is available, to make sure people are prepared to take the jobs that are presently being offered,” she said. “Some people may have to change their career paths and I want to assist in making sure we have an educated workforce that can qualify for the jobs. Also, I want to make sure that the information is out there, so that the people know about the jobs and can apply for them.”
Goynes-Brown admits that a strong family unit contributes to her determination to achieve excellence. “My father … also gives me words of encouragement and was overjoyed when I decided to run for the North Las Vegas City Council seat,” she said. “He has always told me to be firm but fair, and he reminds me that I won’t make 100 percent of the people happy 100 percent of the time. He just wants me to know that I am making the right decisions that work for the city of North Las Vegas — and work for myself, so that I will always be able to sleep at night. He also tells me to be a good listener.”
Impressed with the dedicated work of the North Las Vegas city staff, Goynes-Brown is excited about working with the mayor and her City Council colleagues. It looks like a bright start for the new councilwoman, who closes an interview with words of appreciation.
“I just want to say thank you to all who supported me — it was a phenomenal feeling,” she said. “Also, I want to say thank you to my husband, Romero Brown, who worked so hard and probably went to every door in Ward 2 during my campaign. I am humbled and ready to continue to work for the city of North Las Vegas.”