The Online NewsHour spoke with Xavier Rivas, host of a daily
radio talk show on KLRV-AM 1340 about the people who call Las
Vegas home and recent changes to the city.
How long have you been in Vegas,
and what made you choose that city?
I moved to Vegas seven years ago, and the reason is I was educated in the United States, actually, at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, at the School of Economic Development, and I was involved in Mexico in bringing foreign investments.
I was working in a restaurant and opened up my own restaurant, and I got integrated into the community, and I ended up staying here.
Can you tell me a little bit about
your radio show?
We started it seven years ago. We do interviews with role models from the community. We do a lot of advocacy, and we've developed a lot of micro businesses though the Latin Chamber of Commerce, and as a talk show we've been able to also position ourselves as windows to the Hispanic community for the candidates.
In the years that you've lived
in Las Vegas, how have you seen it change?
Dramatically. When I got here, about seven years ago, it was just after 9/11, and it was kind of slow, and then it just picked up immensely. As we speak, we have 47 million visitors. We have 84 different languages spoken here and communities.
We have a population of approximately 1.8 million, 600,000 of those are Hispanic. And we have a lot of immigration from not only South America but also from California, from other states coming here because of the construction boom.
It's unbelievable how fast this city, and the dynamic of the city is unbelievable because of the expansion of the casinos, the new casinos on the strip. And this brings, increases a lot of job opportunity.
Vegas is, of course, known as an
entertainment and tourist destination, with this rapid growth.
Are there any communities that you're noticing actually starting
to put down roots and making Vegas really their home?
Yes, definitely. When everybody thinks of Vegas, they immediately attach Vegas to gaming, to the life that is probably not the best of this world. But Vegas has a different face, and that face is hardworking people.
There are a lot of cultural events here and different entities here. It's really a fantastic city, a cosmopolitan city. I see a lot of people with pride. The water situation, as you know, is a difficult situation, but the water authorities have been able to establish a program of conservation of water. It is working, you know why? Because the city, the people, the residents of Las Vegas are more sensitive to what's going on with the city.
It's not just a job, it's not just the entertainment part of this, the dynamics of the gaming industry, but it's actually the roots of this community. And that signal is very positive that the people who are moving here are loving this place, are liking this place, are really part of this community.
Briefly, to touch on the upcoming
presidential election, what's your sense about how people in Las
Vegas feel about the election, and what are some of the most divisive
issues that you've seen among the minority communities?
I think the number one problem we have with political activity is credibility. Unfortunately, people lack credibility toward the political activities in town. It's not as easy as Iowa or other states where the caucuses are going on because they've been doing this for years, and it's something a part of their life. Here, since people are new or new here or coming here, there's no excitement.
No candidates have excited the grassroots movement, the political movement. They see us as a place where, we're going to have a caucus in January, yes, but it's like this requirement and go forward. And candidates, yes, Richardson has been here, I don't know, many times and speaks to his Hispanic roots. People are looking into it, but Clinton is very powerful here in terms of getting support from minorities. Obama, Biden, surprisingly, also.
But on the Republican party, they're more like an institution, like they're selling the Republican concept, which is life and future and quality of life and self-sufficiency economically and all that. I don't see that excitement.
You see it now, and if you would tell me, "How many people you think are going to participate in the caucuses?" I doubt that we have a great turn-out. I really do, at this point.
And last ... what makes Vegas a unique city? If you could tell the country
one thing that they might not know about Las Vegas, what would
I think the hidden factor, the positive factor of Las Vegas is the quality of life. Life quality here is unbelievable because you are next to, you have a lake, you have the desert, you have outdoor life, unbelievable. You have 84 different languages spoken here, restaurants, you have libraries.
It's a well-run state government. It's run well, and the county is run well, and the cities, and Vegas. When everybody thinks of Vegas, they think about Las Vegas, but actually this is Clark County and we have four different cities. It's Boulder City, it's North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas. And these four cities are well run.
The quality of the community, public services are great. They're always on top of the quality factor of public services. People, they come here to Vegas to visit Las Vegas. They go to the strip, and they feel, how can these people live around the strip? But there's a hidden quality of life behind that, and that is, actually, people are very nice, people are well educated.
Obviously, we have some growing pains, and one of them is, for instance, gang-related problems, drugs, and all that, but all cities have the same problem. Security in this city is unbelievable, so the law-enforcement structure that we have is unbelievable. It's a great city to live. I believe that people, when they come, they should go off the strip and see what the community is.
There are excellent, beautiful neighborhoods. The outdoor activities are unbelievable. And then also, we are next to the ocean, not that far from the ocean in California, or even Mexico five hours away.
So, the quality of life here I think is the number one hidden factor that we haven't been able to penetrate to the perception of public opinion in the United States or the world. Because when they see Vegas, they see the sin city, and they get the impression of gaming, of prostitution, perhaps, and all these negative social events. But there's more positive than negative.
And I believe, and I'm very proud to live here, by the way, I am a Nevadan now, and I feel very proud of my people here. And I'm very excited about what we're doing, because what we're trying to do is educate our people to appreciate this land, and I think we're doing well in doing so.