LAUGHLIN — Laughlin Town Advisory Board member Nile Smith missed the last LTAB meeting July 14 — and the one before that, the one before that and so on back to Dec. 10.
The whole world has changed since then. COVID 19 re-wrote the script of how the world works in a modern pandemic. And through it all Smith has been missing in action. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since last December and according to people close to the situation he isn’t answering his phone, either.
So, where is Smith?
A query sent out to the remaining members of the Town Advisory Board as well as Laughlin Town Manager Brian Paulson asking what they know about the long-term absence of Smith produced a reply that Smith had stated that he did not feel safe attending the meetings due to the COVID issue. That is understandable as many returning workers to their jobs as well as teachers are also expressing that sentiment.
However, the first reported case of COVID-19 was reported in America on Jan. 20. That leaves the Jan. 13 meeting absence unexplained as the term coronavirus or COVID-19 was not in use at that time. The Times did not receive a statement from Smith, nor has he issued any follow-up statements regarding his absence from the advisory board to date.
The advisory board did cease its monthly meetings due to COVID-19, cancelling the April and May meetings, and returned back to regular session on June 10. Smith was not present, nor was he at the July 14 meeting; no statement was issued to the Times or anywhere publicly by Smith regarding his continued absences — considered unexcused — from the elected position that helps oversee the town of Laughlin. Personnel at the Regional Government Center said they have received no official statements about his absence.
When complete, the LTAB consists of five members; four — Smith, Kathy Ochs, Jim Maniaci and Gina Mackey — were elected in 2018. Herm Walker was appointed by Clark County District A Commissioner Michael Naft following the resignation of Kathleen Whitehead last year.
This November, all five seats are up for election. The terms of the current members expire in January. Smith is not listed on the November ballot, according to the Clark County Elections Department. Ten candidates are, including Mackey, Maniaci, Ochs and Walker. Also on the ballot, according to the Clark County Elections Department, will be Stephanie Bethards, Fred Dotin, Vincent Henry, Kathleen Hoss, Lynette Taravella and Pam Walker.
At time of his election, Smith said “he was a little nervous” going into his first year on the board. In his introduction to the board and the public, he saved information about himself and instead told the public he was there to serve them.
“It’s not about you knowing me, it’s about me knowing you,” Smith said. “If you want to know more about me, come up to me either before or after the meeting. I am very approachable.”
He said he really wanted to hit home that everyone should come up to the podium in the town hall to speak, whether it is good or bad. “We can take your criticism,” Smith said.