LAS VEGAS — Thalia Dondero, the first woman elected to the powerful Clark County Commission governing the Las Vegas area, has died. She was 96.
The Clark County Coroner’s office on Monday confirmed that the longtime Las Vegas leader and one-time commission chairwoman died Sunday of heart failure while in hospice care. She died of natural causes and her death won’t be investigated further.
Dondero was first elected Clark County commissioner in 1974 and served for more than two decades, when she oversaw a McCarran International Airport expansion and flood control projects.
She also stood her own ground as she battled sexism during her tenure, famously refusing “The Boys Club” request that she act as the board secretary to take meeting minutes, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
“My vote is the same as yours,” Dondero said.
Sen. Harry Reid in a statement praised Dondero’s contributions, calling her a one-of-a-kind advocate for the state.
“Thalia was a pioneer who opened doors of opportunity for countless Nevada women. Her strength and dedication to public service stood as an inspiration, and her family continues to epitomize those values to this very day,” Reid said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Monday also paid tribute to Dondero on Twitter.
“Thalia Dondero was a true Nevada pioneer, in leadership and for women…devoted to education & community betterment with kindness for all.”
Dondero was also elected to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, serving from 1996 to 2008, and was at one time chairwoman of the Las Vegas Valley Water District Board.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who worked with Dondero on the Board of Regents, called her a trailblazer who cared about the community.
“She broke the glass ceiling and became the first female County commissioner and today a majority of our board is female,” Sisolak said. “Las Vegas has lost one of its shining lights.”
She moved to Las Vegas in 1942 and was married to longtime educator Harvey Dondero. They had five children.