Sunday, June 16, 2024

Black Woman Magic

December 14, 2022 by  
Filed under Feature

The parallels between politics and popular culture are hard to miss, as Black women’s leadership has captured the imagination of people in North Las Vegas and around the world.

It may be onscreen in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” inside the halls of power in North Las Vegas, or just about anywhere you look — Black women are showing extraordinary leadership. And the world is better for it.

Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown

When you consider the moment we are in right now, it is hard to miss the parallels between our politics and popular culture: Pamela Goynes-Brown has become the first Black mayor ever elected in Nevada, just as audiences worldwide are captivated by the “Black Panther” sequel, which finds both Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) assuming leadership in their fictional African kingdom following the untimely passing of King T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman).

We’ve seen “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” more than once — and so should you. But Las Vegas Black Image kept it close to home when we sat down with Mayor Goynes-Brown to discuss a history-making victory and her plans for North Las Vegas.

How does it feel becoming the first Black woman Mayor of North Las Vegas?

It’s still surreal. I wake up in the morning and I just say, “Wow!” I am a bag of emotions still. I am grateful and humbled. My life’s journey is just one that I hope my parents and [especially] my father [former North Las Vegas City Councilman Theron Goynes] are proud of. The same way I was when he won his seat as councilman. Just to be able to serve my constituents of North Las Vegas gives me the greatest joy that I could ever experience. It’s all about the people that I am fortunate enough to serve. I just keep saying. “Wow!” I haven’t stopped smiling.”

What did you learn about North Las Vegas throughout your tenure as councilwoman that will assist you as North Las Vegas’ new mayor? 

To understand where North Las Vegas is today is to understand the history of how far it’s come. When I was first elected to the council, the city’s economy was failing and we were on the brink of receivership. There were no “Council 101’ classes offered to recover from that situation. So, I just had to ask key questions: “What do we do to save the City of North Las Vegas to make sure the residents are safe and live in a place where they are thriving and proud?” Also, we had to protect the backbone of the City of North Las Vegas — our employees. So those are some of the things I had to work on coming into the North Las Vegas City Council seat eleven years ago. So putting together a plan and a vision that we all see now has been happening for the last decade — making North Las Vegas a great city today. We put into place a “Smart Growth Plan.” Former Mayor John Lee said, “Chapter 1 has been written.” Now, I am going to be Chapter 2 and carry out visions that have already been started, [this time] with my set of eyes. 

Why do you feel North Las Vegas is so attractive to global and big businesses who are relocating to North Las Vegas? 

It is more economical for a big business to move to North Las Vegas than other cities. Doing business in North Las Vegas or throughout the state of Nevada costs much less than many other states. Also, the availability of land is another issue — we currently have undeveloped land, but that will not be the case in the near future because we are attracting so many companies. Another important attribute about doing business in North Las Vegas is that we are very efficient with expediting permit approvals and allowing developers and builders to break ground quicker and get shovels into the ground. 

How is the landscape in North Las Vegas for employment opportunities? 

If you want a job, come to North Las Vegas. There is such a variety of choices; especially with our industrial blueprint. No one has to be unemployed here — not unless they just don’t want to work. There is something for everyone. Now is a great time to look at those resumes and see what your skill set is. And see where our skills are best utilized because jobs are plentiful in North Las Vegas. Whether it’s working in industrial space or commercial spaces such as restaurants or in our medical district that will be completed shortly. 

Medical services seem to be vast in North Las Vegas. Is it because of the Black and brown demographic? 

Yes, I believe that as well. North Las Vegas is the largest minority majority in the state of Nevada. And we want to celebrate that diversity to the fullest. We have something representing all cultures in North Las Vegas. This is also one of my top priorities. 

Are there plans to build other colleges and universities in North Las Vegas? 

I’m not sure about a college or university, but we are getting a Career Technical Academy (CTA) that’s under construction as we speak. It’s over in the area by Legacy High School. We have wanted this for a long time and it’s finally happening. UNLV does own land by the Vet- ISH area. We are also talking about expanding the medical educational group. 

What is the action plan for North Las Vegas to combat crime? 

Crime, for some reason, has increased across the entire Valley. I don’t have the exact percentage breakdown for crime, but in North Las Vegas we do have crime. We are excited about our new North Las Vegas police chiefs who have been hired and are people of color. So the goal is to have officers for law enforcement in the communities we serve. It is very important that our communities see people that look like them and who can relate to them. We have to get our officers in front of residents — not just enforcing the law, but to also positively interact with the residents and our young people. Throwing a football or making a basket at the community basketball courts can enhance relations and communication. Creating those community relationships is very important to building a loyal and respectful relationship between community and law enforcement. 

How in the housing market and available homes to buy in North Las Vegas? 

We are building as fast as we can. Supply and demand is an issue — and a lot of times it’s about getting the supplies to those particular developments. So we are building as fast as we can. The great thing I like about housing choices in North Las Vegas is that there is a lot of variety. If you are looking to be a renter, owner of a home or single family home, townhome or senior living — we have a lot of options in North Las Vegas. 

Is there assistance for new business start-ups in North Las Vegas? 

Yes, there are several things. We just celebrated our one year anniversary of our North Las Vegas small business connector—which is thriving. We also honored 6 small businesses that went through the Small Business Connector and we picked categories where we awarded them with certificates and recognitions. So if there is someone with a dream, or an idea, or an entrepreneur who needs a little assistance we can absolutely help them in North Las Vegas. The North Las Vegas Business Connector is there to promote small businesses, minority businesses, women owned businesses and veteran owned businesses—we want to promote diversity with our small business owners. We have helped a tremendous amount of people to get that one leg into the door to get started. 

What do you want your legacy to be as Mayor? 

I would love for my legacy to be, when I leave the political realm, one that makes a positive difference in the lives of our North Las Vegas residents. I am humbled to be the first African-American in the state of Nevada to become a mayor. It is my hope that this gives others — especially young boys and girls of color — inspiration and motivation to live out their dreams and to aspire to serve at the highest level of government in their communities. I am ever grateful to my constituents who have put their faith and trust in me to be their leader. And I will work hard and smart to make North Las Vegas a better place to work, live, and play. 

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