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Assistant City Manager Ryan Juden, right, listens as former City Manager Qiong Liu speaks during a North Las Vegas City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

A top ally of Mayor John Lee has been approved as the city manager of North Las Vegas, taking the city’s top administrative role just three months after a power struggle that saw the ouster of his predecessor.

Council members lavished praise on Juden, who has served as interim city manager since January, before approving his two-year contract with a yearly salary of $220,000 on a unanimous vote during Wednesday’s council meeting.

The approved contract contains many similarities to that of former City Manager Qiong Liu, who fired Juden in January but recisinded her decision a day later amid a contentious departure from the municipality. Liu and the city agreed to start arbitration proceedings in March after the council voted to fire her amid allegations that she attempted to process a delinquent pay raise without their approval.

Council members approved two last-minute changes to Juden’s contract, including a new provision allowing him to reside outside of the city while employed in the city manager role. North Las Vegas’s charter requires the city manager to live in the city or obtain permission from the council if they live outside the jurisdiction.

Juden’s contract allows for eight days of administrative leave per year, a $500 car allowance, civic club membership and any professional development or dues. It also requires a vote of three council members to raise his salary, and prohibits any salary decreases without his written consent.

The contract also ties his salary to increase along with any cost of living increases approved for the city’s department heads.

Councilman Isaac Barron referred to the Clark County School District’s search for a new superintendent and subsequent delay in order to find internal candidates and said the city knew it would be getting quality leadership under Juden.

“He’s actually been doing the job for little over a quarter,” he said. “We’ve been test-driving him, I guess you could say.”

Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown also provided high praise for Juden, saying that the city was moving “like lightning” under his leadership.

“To me you’re that person that I would aspire to be if I were a city manager,” she said. “Our conversations are candid, questions are answered, if you don’t have the answer, you get it to me immediately, which I truly appreciate.”

Juden has worked for the city since 2013, originally as Lee’s chief of staff and moving to a newly created assistant city manager role in 2015. He previously worked on Lee’s campaign for mayor.

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