Las Vegas City Council crushes 5th graders’ hopes

jackrabbit controversy
Garehime Elementary students prepared a presentation to support their case, but were unsuccessful.
jackrabbit controversy
Garehime Elementary students prepared a presentation to support their case, but were unsuccessful.

A fifth-grade class at Garehime Elementary School got a taste of how local government works, or doesn’t, Wednesday when it made a case before the Las Vegas City Council for naming the black-tailed jackrabbit as the official city animal.

“I thought this would be noncontroversial and a no-brainer,” said City Councilman Stavros Anthony. “Since I’ve been on the city council, nobody has ever once mentioned an official animal. Not one person has mentioned having a city contest. No one has showed interest in an official animal for Las Vegas. We have these kids who took initiative and I don’t know if they will be rewarded. I’m very disappointed.”

While hearing from the class, Mayor Carolyn Goodman declared Oct. 17 was declared Black-tailed Jackrabbit Day. Students took turns explaining why the animal’s behavior and characteristics reflect the Las Vegas spirit. 

“The black-tailed jackrabbit runs quickly, like Las Vegas has a quick pace,” one student said.

“The black-tailed jackrabbit has strong leaps and jumps just like Las Vegas’s community has strength as is evident by our recovery from the October 1 tragedy,” another student said.

While all the council members applauded the students’ initiative, some didn’t think the item should pass.

“If we are going to create any type of official mascot, whether it’s an animal or plant or tree, I think it should be open to the entire public,” said City Councilman Cedric Crear. “If we take just one school or one entity, I can tell you people in my ward would want to have an opportunity to submit what their animal should be.”

The motion was split 3-3, with Goodman, Crear and Councilman Coffin opposed, wanting the discussion for a city mascot to be open to the public. Anthony, Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian and Councilman Steve Seroka voted in favor. Councilwoman Michelle Fiore, calling in to the meeting from Singapore, asked the council to delay the vote so she could have time to study the issue, but the council voted anyway.

Not to completely kill the item — or the class’s spirit — the council then voted 6-0 to table the resolution for another meeting, encouraging the students to respond to the city’s recommendations.

“Don’t give up and keep trying,” Tarkanian said. “That’s what government is all about.”

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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