With less than a week to go before the Clark County Commission votes to fill a soon-to-be-vacant seat on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, Geoconda Arguello-Kline — secretary-treasurer of the powerful Culinary Union — received weighty endorsements for her own bid for the seat from Nevada’s sitting U.S. senators, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen, as well as a nod from former Sen. Harry Reid.
In their letter to the commission dated Nov. 21, more than 10 days before Arguello-Kline submitted her application for the appointment, Cortez Masto and Rosen praised Arguello-Kline as “leader in our community when it comes to diversity, inclusion and workers' rights for decades,” touting her experience in the industry as crucial as the newly-named Allegiant Stadium nears completion next year.
And in his own letter to Commissioner Michael Naft, Reid said much the same, imploring that “we must now look toward the next chapter: the hospitality phase for the stadium.”
Arguello-Kline filed a last-minute application last Monday for a seat currently held by Laborers Union head Tommy White, whose appointed term to the stadium board expires at the end of the year. The commission opened up those applications to the public in October, and White has since also re-applied for his appointment.
But Arguello-Kline, who is Hispanic, has been a vocal critic of the board’s diversity, which includes just one member of color and two women, of which one is a non-voting ex-officio member. Speaking to The Nevada Independent following the last of the Culinary Union’s presidential town halls Wednesday, Arguello-Kline made those criticisms once more.
“I think the board needs diversity,” Arguello-Kline said. “It is very important to have diversity in the group, in the board, and people who have experience in the jobs they are going to need at the stadium.”
With the days ticking down before the commission makes its vote, Arguello-Kline and her supporters have also begun to circulate an ad taking a jab at the board’s lack of diversity, showing a collage of the faces that is almost entirely white.
What’s wrong with this picture? We need a Stadium Authority Board that reflects the diversity of NV. Support Geoconda Arguello-Kline for Stadium Authority Board! cc: @ClarkCountyNV, @tsegerblom, @JustinJonesNV, @CommishJGibson, @MKNVspeaks, @LawrenceWeekly, @MichaelNaft #YesGeo pic.twitter.com/wCfEefVjc8— Laura Martin (@LauraKMM) December 12, 2019
White did not immediately return a request for comment.
During deliberations over the stadium deal in 2016, the Culinary and Laborers Unions stood in stark contrast to each other over the question of public funding. In particular, Culinary took aim at the “billionaires” who would profit from the deal, while the Laborers saw the proposal as an economic boon that would create thousands of construction jobs.
The Stadium Authority was created in 2016 as part of the state’s expansive legislation establishing the means and methods for an eventual move by the Oakland Raiders football team to Las Vegas, including raising $750 million in funding through a bump in Las Vegas’ room tax.
Though a Raiders subsidiary has spearheaded stadium construction and events management, the Stadium Authority will ultimately retain ownership of the stadium itself in addition to the land on which it sits.
Comprised of nine members and a tenth non-voting “ex-officio” member, the job of appointing the board is split between the governor, the county commission, the board itself and the president of UNLV.
Ahead of the next round of appointments this month, five of the nine members will see their terms expire by the end of the year.