Q: The Downtown Loop is a new free shuttle service downtown. What was the purpose behind the free downtown shuttle service, and do you feel it will affect other transit services like the RTC buses, Uber or Lyft drivers?
A: The Downtown Loop has been created in a partnership with the RTC to meet the request of moving people safely, comfortably and easily — for free — around the downtown area. As a six-month pilot program, we are testing to see if ridership warrants expansion into a much larger service area. Currently, travel to and from the RTC Bonneville Transit Center, downtown hotels on Fremont Street, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, Pawn Stars, the Mob Museum, the Arts District and other attractions take precedence. The Loop is just one of a multitude of travel choices: pedestrian foot traffic, bike-share opportunities, ridesharing, automobiles and light rail, autonomous vehicles in the future. Thus far, the response from ridership on the Loop has been very positive, so give the Downtown Loop a try! Visit www.lasvegasnevada.gov/DowntownLoop for the routes, days and hours of operation.
Q: With the ReInvent Schools initiative starting with nine underperforming schools this year, what is the plan for expanding the program, and in what ways does the program assist schools and families throughout the valley?
A: This year, the ReInvent Schools program expands to nine schools from the original five in the inaugural program of 2016. ReInvent Schools are community hubs that assist students and their families with wrap-around services centered at the site school itself. A variety of support services are available to aid each student in being healthy and finding success in the educational and home environments. This year, the city has also launched two Strong Start academies, which offer early learning opportunities for younger children to help in their preparation for kindergarten. Of course, the city additionally continues to provide before- and after-school learning and support opportunities through the Safekey and Ignite programs. Goals in all instances are to have students succeed academically and to ultimately increase high school graduation rates.
Q: Lately we have noticed increased home development around town, and home values are reported to be the highest they’ve ever been in Las Vegas. The real estate industry is seemingly booming again. With us introducing the 2017 Top 100 Women in Real Estate, what are some suggestions you would give these women regarding trends in their industry?
A: I love your Top 100 Women in Real Estate list, which for me is a no-brainer! Go ladies!!! Overall, growth in the homebuilding industry is fortunately getting back on track after the impact of the long recession. Out in Ward 6, in the northwest part of the city, is where we are seeing the most significant development. For certain, this is matching what is occurring in the southwest part of the valley as well. I think the next trend is going to be a move back into urban living. We are witnessing a surge of individuals tired of the suburbs who are looking to live and work in the city’s core without having to face the upkeep on suburban properties, or face the need for long drives into the heart of the city for work and play. We will continue to need additional housing downtown to support that trend, especially because of all of the amenities that are now part of our revitalized CityCenter. My recommendations: be sensitive to what each customer’s needs and wants are, and be aware of what is available in all sectors of the community to meet those specific needs and desires!
Q: The Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders are two pro teams that have already been welcomed to Las Vegas, causing an immense amount of excitement. With the recent introduction of the United Soccer League, do you have any suggestions for the team name, and how soon can we expect to have our very own soccer team?
A: Well as your readers already know, the team is officially the Las Vegas Lights FC, or Luces, and really, what better name for a team in Las Vegas? The Lights will begin play in the USL’s 2018 season in March, and we could not be more excited. Soccer is the world’s sport, and Las Vegas is the world’s city. This is really a match made in heaven, and now is the special time to be a Las Vegan as we welcome all these pro franchises to town. Trust me when I tell you we are not done yet!
Q: With the opening of six new schools in Clark County for the 2017-18 school year, many parents are concerned about staff shortages. How is the school district prepared to handle the situation? Do these initiatives tie into your efforts to raise Nevada’s academic national ranking?
A: Staffing shortages seem to be a reality again this year and so is funding! As you know, despite these issues, CCSD is also undergoing a major reorganization. Reorganization is a slow process with many obstacles to assess and overcome along the way, and the “fix” is not an overnight possibility. For me, always, the first ingredient to having a top-quality educational system is being able to attract and retain the finest in teachers. Obviously, this begins with having competitive salaries and benefits. While facilities and buildings are very important, buildings don’t teach! The second ingredient is per-pupil spending, or fund allocations per pupil, being available to each school. Nevada’s rankings in education are very poor, and per-pupil spending and competitive teachers’ salaries are equally poor. Thus, until we find and then realign dollars to address these two priorities, successful educational opportunities for all, equitably, will not be possible. It forever amazes me that when my husband and I moved here in 1964, we were among the top-rated school districts in the nation. Watching the slide has been very painful, especially since it began in the late 1970’s as the town began to grow.
Q: Your beloved, and our former mayor, Oscar Goodman, has graced the pages of our Top 100 Men of the Year issue in the past. Who would be your second favorite man that you feel exemplifies one of the Top 100 Men of the Year for 2017?
A: There are so many great choices: from Bill Foley for bringing us the Las Vegas Golden Knights, or Coach Tony Sanchez who is doing a great job with the UNLV football team, and surely “Downtown Derek” (Derek Stevens) with his amazing properties and plans on Fremont Street and in Symphony Park. However, if I were only allowed just one choice, it would have to be Rossi Ralenkotter, longtime president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. What a giant he has been for the growth and development of the Las Vegas economy! He has been the backbone of tourism and the convention business through 24 years of building these industries — industries upon which we citizens rely! Without equivocation, Rossi continues to be a great leader: one who leads the way for the necessary expansion of the convention facilities, while at the same time, fans the resort corridor’s responsiveness to ever-improved entertainment, inviting high-end dining and the finest in boutique shopping experiences. Thank you, Rossi, and your team, for helping Las Vegas retain its international and national preeminence.