Column: Kudos to clerk for early-voting effort

County Clerk/Treasurer Nikki Bryan deserves a big "thank-you" for her efforts in making early voting available throughout Lyon County.

It is not a simple task to set up a polling site. Manpower, voting booths and, most importantly, official voter documentation must be arranged for. And those with the power to make it possible must be willing to go the extra mile to get it done.

Wanting to make sure this initial effort was done correctly, Nikki has personally dedicated eight evenings (Monday through Thursday for two weeks) making sure residents living in all outlying areas have a more convenient means of voting early for this year's primary election.

Voter turnout the first few nights has been less than spectacular, with only two voters in Smith Valley on Monday and 15 in Dayton (which also included Mound House and Silver City) on Tuesday, but it is a start. Nikki is not discouraged and intends to continue the effort - through the upcoming general election and all elections to follow.

Nikki is an elected official responding to the wishes of the citizens. Now it is time for the citizens to do their part.

It is really a shame the Lyon County Commissioner meetings are not televised.

Carson City supervisor meetings are among many community meetings shown live on local Community Access Television. Re-runs are shown several times thereafter. Interested residents have the opportunity to keep tabs on their elected officials and, just as important, the elected officials have the opportunity to review their official "performance."

I wonder what one particular Lyon County commissioner might think if he could see himself on television as others see him - yawning and nodding off as scheduled presentations are made to the board. I can only speculate what these presenters must be thinking when they see a commissioner sprawled in his high backed chair, making no effort to hide his boredom.

I would not bring this boorish behavior to note if it was uncommon; however, those who regularly attend county commission meetings know it is not uncommon.

Any public official will tell you it can be difficult to show interest in all that is presented to them. Most adults, however, have the courtesy and self-discipline to not behave in such a belittling manner toward those bringing business to the board.

At the very least, we should expect this same courtesy and discipline from our county's highest elected representatives.

A first-term Lyon County commissioner (and Carson City supervisor) is paid $18,000 per year, plus benefits and 32.5 cents per mile for travel to and from meetings.

The Nevada Association of Counties, with the support of its membership, is proposing to ask the 2001 legislature to increase the base salary to $22,400.

And the general public will probably not raise an eyebrow.

A first year Lyon County schoolteacher is paid $27,700, plus medical benefits. (There is no mileage compensation to and from work.) This is not a paltry sum.

Something is out of whack when a part time politician is paid nearly as much as a full time trained professional.

I know this statement will result in pleas for pity from elected officials, but no matter how many "extra" meetings a commissioner attends, or how many packets of information they must thumb through, their work load comes nowhere near that of a professional educator.

Before someone else points out that commissioner salaries were last raised during my term in office, I voted against supporting that NACO salary bill.

I am probably a little odd in that I have always felt commissioners were more than amply compensated by the taxpayers. I regularly attended all those "extra" meetings, did my homework, never dozed off during a meeting and did not feel I was underpaid for a job I voluntarily committed myself to.

No one forces elected officials to run for office. To those who say we would get more qualified people to run if the pay was more rewarding, I say I do not want a full-time professional politician representing me at the county level. Money does not breed quality. Money breeds greed - at taxpayer expense.

One's first priority in volunteering to serve should be to protect the best interests of the taxpayer, not one's own financial security. When an elected officia'ls financial well-being depends upon he/she staying in office, the taxpayers are not going to be the top priority.

I would vote tomorrow for an increase in our state legislators' salaries. You know - those extravagant bi-annual $7,800 salaries the public gets in an uproar over every two years.

Follow your local state legislator's schedule for a full two-year cycle and compare it to your local commissioner/supervisor's schedule and then judge where you think your tax dollar is being most wisely spent.

Think about it.

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