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Clark County Government Center as seen on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Photo by Jeff Scheid.

The Clark County Commission voted Tuesday to re-appoint Laborers Union Secretary Treasurer Tommy White to a four-year term on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board by a margin of 5-2, shooting down a bid by Culinary Union head Geoconda Arguello-Kline that had gained the backing of several high-profile Nevada Democrats.

Speaking before the vote, Commissioner Larry Brown told a room filled with the red shirts of Culinary Union members that the move was about creating consistency ahead of the stadium’s completion next summer. 

“It’s critically important that that consistency be there,” Brown said. “The Board has some tremendous responsibilities as far as the county and being stewards of the room tax dollars that go into [the stadium].”

Arguello-Kline, who had filed a last-minute application for the seat just before the December deadline, received a bevy of big-name endorsements in the days and weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote. Among them, kudos from former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both of Nevada’s sitting U.S. senators and MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren. 

A handful of progressive organizations also threw their support to Arguello-Kline, including the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Mi Familia Vota and the immigration-focused group Make the Road Nevada. 

Pointing to her experience at the helm of the Culinary Union, Arguello-Kline had become a vocal critic of a lack of diversity on the stadium authority, which, among voting appointees, includes just one non-white member and one woman.  

But Brown pushed back on Arguello-Kline’s criticism, saying that the stadium authority had made strides to address diversity in hiring and that the County Commission’s “actions speak louder than words.” Still, Brown also took time to make clear that the appointment shouldn’t be construed as the commission “abandoning” the Culinary Union. 

“It’s difficult when this board is put in a position where we’re deciding between two leaders of labor, and labor that enjoys a pretty good relationship with this County Commission,” Brown said.

Arguello-Kline wasn’t without her own support on the commission, however, as Tick Segerblom joined Justin Jones in voting against White’s appointment. 

“The reality is diversity is now, that’s what we represent in Las Vegas,” Segerblom said ahead of the vote. “You can thank people for how they’ve served, but going forward, it’s really important that our commitments and our appointments reflect Las Vegas. And Las Vegas is not white, male — Las Vegas is diverse.”

In a written statement released shortly after the vote, Arguello-Kline slammed the decision as a missed opportunity for the commission.

“Clearly this decision today shows that the Clark County Commission does not care about the conduct and reputation of their members on the Stadium Authority board,” Arguello-Kline said. “If they wanted to affirm that board members can be racist, sexist, and threaten violence on Twitter (like Donald Trump does) and get away with it — they have succeeded.”

Amid the push for a seat on the board remain the echoes of the 2016 fight over the stadium itself, in particular the choice by state lawmakers to utilize $750 million in tax dollars to help fund construction. Both then and now, the Culinary Union criticized the decision as a handout to the billionaires involved with professional football, even as the Laborers Union touted construction as a job-creating economic boon. 

The work of appointing the nine-member Stadium Authority Board is split between the governor, the Clark County Commission, the board itself and the UNLV president. Though the board will not control events at the stadium once it is opened, it remains the ultimate owner and overseer of the stadium itself. 

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