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Municipal Consolidation (Las Vegas, NM) Miscellaneous Papers

Identifier: SC 1972-01

Scope and Content

This collection was compiled by Dr. Lynn Perrigo, from 1967-1970 he advised the Consolidation Commission during the consolidation of the Town of Las Vegas and the City of East Las Vegas. It includes personal notes, correspondence, minutes, drafts, maps, and ballots.


  • 1967-1970
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


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Copy Restrictions

Duplication allowed for research purposes. User responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biography / History

Las Vegas was long a city divided, two separate towns divided by the Gallinas River, West Las Vegas founded by the Spanish in 1835 and East Las Vegas built around the railroads arrival in 1879. Over the years there were attempts and many discussions on consolidating them into one larger town. Under the territorial government West and East Las Vegas were incorporated together in 1882, despite protests from many of the two towns citizens. In 1884 the territorial government decided to disincorporate all incorporated areas and have each one re-incorporate under their new rules and procedure. After much discussion East Las Vegas decide to incorporate, in 1888, alone as the Town of East Las Vegas, the rechartered as the City of East Las Vegas in 1895. West Las Vegas remained under county government until 1903 when it incorporated as the Town of Las Vegas. Prior to incorporating as its own entity, West Las Vegas and the City of East Las Vegas considered consolidation. Around this time there were also several court cases regarding the Las Vegas Land Grant and who controlled it, incorporating as the Town of Las Vegas assisted in closing these cases.

Interest in consolidating the City of East Las Vegas and the Town of Las Vegas resumed in the late 1950s and the process was started in 1961 but nothing was down. A few years later, in 1965, local representatives introduced a bill in the state legislature to force the Town and the City to consolidate, this bill passed the House but was killed in committee before it got to the Senate floor. Two years later a similar bill was introduced to the Senate and passed, but was voted down in the House. The general consensus was that consolidation should come from the people, not the legislature. However with interest renewed the two Mayors each appointed three commissioners to investigate and prepare a referendum on consolidation. The Joint Commission to Study Consolidation members were: Judge Joe Angel, Luis Olivas, and Sam F. Vigil representing the Town of Las Vegas and John "Sandy" Detterick, Dr. John S. Johnson, and Jake Padilla representing the City of East Las Vegas.

The Commission started meeting in April 1967 and soon asked Dr. Lynn I. Perrigo to consult. Dr. Perrigo, Professor of History and Head of the Department of History and Social Sciences at New Mexico Highlands University, had long been a proponent of consolidation. Starting in the 1948 he would occasionally write letters and articles for the local newspapers on the benefits of consolidation. After his initial meeting with the Commission where he described various forms of city government and the consolidation process he was asked to prepare a draft consolidation procedure and city charter. Over the next three years he would work closely with Commission, assisting them in figuring out funding, hiring consultants, and guiding them through the various options that have to be made when combining two cities into one. In his initial draft he set the initial referendum on incorporation for March 1968, with the consolidation occurring in March 1970 if the referendum passed. Funding for the initial process, preparing the consolidation process and new city charter, was provided by a Title I grant to Highlands University. Title I grants were federal grants intended to encourage universities to allow their staff to render constructive community service, the funding provided a stipend for Dr. Perrigo, as the consultant, Dr. Johnson, as the project manager, a stenographer to take minutes and assist with any typing, and several part-time positions including a publicity writer and a director of disseminating information. The Commission spent the next few months preparing the consolidation process and city charter, in December when everything was completed, both City and Town scheduled the referendum on consolidation for February 1968. Between December 1967 and February the Commission started a large public information campaign that included setting up public information offices in each municipality, advertising in the local newspapers and radio station, and sending teams of two, one from each side, to 65 speaking engagements promoting consolidation. The referendum passed.

In March 1968 the Commission came back together to start the consolidation process. The three members representing the Town of Las Vegas all accepted reappointment to the commission. From the City of East Las Vegas John "Sandy" Dettrick and Dr. John S. Johnson both declined reappointment and Rev. Glenn McCoy and Floyd Chavez where appointed to the Commission, joing Jake Padilla who was reappointed. Dr. Perrigo continued as an adviser. At this point the search started for funding the work that would need to be done and finding someone who could do the work. This included creating the new ordinances, a city budget, and plans for combining departments. In May 1969 Jose Luis Yguado and Associates, from Albuquerque, was chosen. Mr. Yguado and his consultants spent the next year preparing documents and working with the City and Town to find acceptable compromises.

The election for the new mayor, municipal judge, and 8 councilmen was set for March 3, 1970. The Commission met for a final time on March 16th to affirm the election results and hand the now combined City of Las Vegas over to its newly elected government. At this point questions were raised on the legality of the election and the charter (which had been voted on in the 1968 referendum). In April 1970 the Attorney General released a statement that affirmed both the election and the charter. Las Vegas was now one city.


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Related Material

The following books provide more details on the consolidation process. Most are available in our general stacks, for those in Special Collections, Rare Books, or the Archives please ask staff for assistance.

Commission on Consolidation: Las Vegas, New Mexico: Minutes, 1967-1970 by Lynn Perrigo. F804.L3 C65 1972

Consolidation and Charter. KFX1603.L27 C42 1967

The Consolidation of the Town of Las Vegas and the City of Las Vegas: A Report by the Joint Commission to Study Consolidation. KFX1603.L27 C43 1968

Municipal consolidation of Las Vegas: Reports on Ordinances, 1969-1970 by Michael M. Rueckhaus. KFX1603.L27 M8 1970

Municipal consolidation of Las Vegas (New Mexico): A Personal Chronicle by Lynn Perrigo. F804.L3 P4765 1972

The Political Consolidation of Las Vegas (New Mexico) by Calvin R. Wilson. LD3781.N35 W546 1971

Publications. F804.L3 P8 1968

Reorganization Plan for the Municipal Consolidation of Las Vegas by Jose Luis Yguado. HT168.L35 Y34 1970

La Reunion: A Personal Chronicle of the Municipal Consolidation of Las Vegas, New Mexico by Lynn I. Perrigo. F804.L3P4 1975

Processing Information

Dr. Perrigo intended for these papers to be viewed in chronological order, NMHU Libraries has attempted to keep to this order.
Finding Aid of the Municipal Consolidation (Las Vegas, NM) Miscellaneous Papers, 1967-1970
Edited Full Draft
© 2016
Language of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico Highlands University Repository