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Commissioners set to vote on Las Vegas airport name change, but not everyone in agreement

McCarran unfamiliar name to many
Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 18:25:28-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Las Vegas airport is one of the most familiar places visitors know in the city and on Tuesday the Clark County Commission is set to scrub the McCarran name and legacy from the facility.

RELATED: Harry Reid responds to commission's vote to rename Las Vegas airport in his honor

"I feel confident that we have the votes but you never know until you see four people and we can't count the votes ahead of time," said Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom who's behind the movement.

The Clark County Commission will take up the agenda item for possible action which would direct the head of the airport to draft a letter to the FAA requesting the facility name be changed to Harry Reid International Airport.

The vote is years in the making.

RELATED: Leaders to consider Las Vegas airport name change, citing diversity

The idea has been floated before but failed in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Commissioner Segerblom wants to rename the airport after former Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

“If you ask them who is this McCarran; is he a person or what did he do? I think most people and visitors don’t know," said Eddie Facey, a former officer of the Clark County Republican Party.

Facey says McCarran's name recognition has faded over time and says the naming has become "neutral."

RELATED: Nevada governor also supports idea of renaming McCarran Airport after former Sen. Harry Reid

“Now if you put Harry Reid‘s name on there, it won’t be neutral, it will be polarizing some people will think positively, many will think negatively of him," said Facey.

But after the 2020 summer protests and demonstrations in the racial unrest following the police-killing of George Floyd, Segerblom says it was time to address the airport's namesake.

“If the FAA approves it then she would go forward then we would have to raise the money to pay for everything there’s no taxpayer money involved," explained Segerblom.

Tuesday, Rep. Dina Titus released a statement in support of a new name for the airport:

“Las Vegas is a diverse community and our visitors should not be welcomed by someone with a legacy of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. I support the Clark County Commission’s proposal to rename McCarran International Airport in honor of former Senator Harry Reid. From blocking Yucca Mountain to protecting public lands, Senator Reid helped make Nevadans' voices heard loudly in Washington. Now let’s take McCarran’s statue out of the U.S. Capitol.”

Sen. Patrick McCarran was a Nevada political powerhouse and represented the Silver State from 1933 until his death in 1954.

McCarran is credited for helping shape the air industry we know at present.

RELATED: Fmr. Sen. Harry Reid responds to calls to rename McCarran Airport in his honor

Sen. McCarran was also a hardliner anti-communist and some say he left a legacy of racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford released a statement Monday:

“America’s reckoning with racial justice has brought more urgency to remove Pat McCarran’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic legacy from Nevada’s famous landmarks. I fully support the renaming of McCarran Airport and Commissioner Segerblom’s proposal to name it after former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Throughout his entire career, Senator Reid has been a champion for Nevada’s Black community and fought to bring equal opportunity through policy. Senator Reid knew our education system, healthcare system and financial systems disproportionately worked against communities of color. He became our advocate to right the wrongs of the past through his legislative work.

Senator Reid supported civil rights legislation to end racial profiling and worked to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. He championed the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act and the Nevada Minority Business Enterprise Center to help Nevada’s Black-owned businesses. One of his proudest accomplishments, the passage of the Affordable Care Act, made health care possible for Black Americans who have some of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.

I’m proud to support the renaming of our airport to honor Senator Reid. It’s time for Nevada to do our part in confronting our racist history, and to honor a man who has been a true champion for communities that McCarran himself resented.”
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford