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Harry Reid's everlasting mark on Nevada

Senate Leaders Speak To The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
Posted at 2:08 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 16:33:26-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Sen. Harry Reid was a son of Nevada. Whether you agreed with his politics, it's fair to say he tried doing what he thought was best for the state.

13 Action News anchor Todd Quinones looks back at how Sen. Reid... changed Nevada forever.

CHANGED NEVADA

In a barren swath of land in the Nevada desert, Harry Reid's legacy blossoms. Yucca Mountain, a planned nuclear waste dump about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, never fulfilled that designation largely because of opposition from Reid.

David Damore chairs the Department of Political Science at UNLV.

"I think in his estimation, and I think most people in southern Nevada, particularly those people on Las Vegas Blvd., saw that as a potential disaster, right?" says Damore.

YUCCA MOUNTAIN

As Reid's political power grew in the Senate, he helped stall the project, eventually helping convince former President Barack Obama to end the funding to haul nuclear waste through Nevada.

"Any sort of slip up in the transit or any sort of issue would have pretty much shut down our economy for an extended period of time here," says Damore.

Another potential disaster emerged in 2009. Las Vegas was being hit hard by the great recession and there were concerns MGM's construction of CityCenter could stop.

CITYCENTER

"He did save CityCenter," says Chris Giunchigliani, who was a Clark County Commissioner during that time and worked closely with Reid.

"He had our back, let's put it that way. And when Harry said he was going to do something, he did it," says Giunchigliani.

"The Great Recession hit CityCenter two-thirds of the way through and the cost had already gone up. Significantly, they were running out of creditors," says Damore.

Reid is credited with helping secure the financing needed for the massive project to move forward.

"That funding made a difference in hotel workers because, you know, culinary union workers, your valets, all the people that were affected," says Giunchigliani.

"By keeping a large project like that going, using his clout to keep the credit flowing to that project. He also allowed, you know, not just MGM and City Center in the Strip, but also the families who were dependent upon the jobs there," says Damore.

"It was a way to help, not just the gaming industry, it's the people that the gaming industry served in the long run," says Giunchigliani.

NATIONAL PARK

Reid's environmental legacy extends well beyond Yucca Mountain. He helped establish Great Basin National Park in Eastern Nevada.

"Great Basin National Park, the first National Park in Nevada that helped not just Nevada, it helped all the rural counties and for tourism components," says Giunchigliani.

No matter the issue, Giunchigliani says, Reid was always a statesman.

"He was always willing to learn a different position. And I respect him more for that than anything else," says Giunchigliani.