Via handwritten questions and phone calls from a television audience watching the League of Women Voter's candidate forum Monday, Carson City residents asked where the capital's two mayoral and two Ward 4 supervisor candidates stood on issues from redevelopment and open space to the proposed hospital affiliation and the potential of seeing the freeway built "in our lifetime."
Supervisor candidate Richard Stuab said at the end of the forum, also sponsored by Carson Access Television and the Nevada Appeal, that it is "sometimes difficult to differentiate the candidates from each other." That statement range true at this forum where all four candidates agreed on most issues. For instance, all agreed downtown redevelopment needs to have a greater mix of activities and needs to attract a different mix of residential, office and retail space.
"We have an attractive, empty core," supervisor candidate Verne Horton said. "There is nothing really (downtown) to attract us. We need to have an active recruitment of the businesses we want to see there."
The proposed affiliation of Carson-Tahoe Hospital with a larger health care provider came to the forefront for the first time in this year's campaign. All candidates agreed that there are potential risks and benefits to the affiliation, and Carson residents should watch the affiliation proceedings carefully.
"The hospital trustees are going through an affiliation study," incumbent Mayor Ray Masayko said. "We need to keep an open mind, let the study come out and then we can discuss it and debate it."
Asked about the progress of the city's open space program, funded by voter-approved by a sales tax in 1996, only candidate Tom Tatro, a former city supervisor, said he wasn't entirely pleased with the speed at which the program is crawling.
"There's only so much land," Tatro said. "Land is not replaceable. I'm not saying the open space committee members and city staff aren't working hard enough. But we have worked with the federal government for years to protect open space. It isn't a new idea."
Candidates were asked to compare public safety as it related to pedestrian safety. Staub and Tatro both noted that a driver education program was necessary to help people understand that pedestrians have the right of way.
"You need to separate drivers from pedestrians," Tatro said. "If you can create an environment where people are comfortable to walk, they will walk."
Masayko stopped short of saying Fuji Park would eventually become a commercial development, but Tatro, Horton and Staub all said the park's future probably holds commercial development.
"We probably will see it developed, probably as a commercial development," Tatro said. "(Fuji Park) has a unique, active users group. I'm confident whatever process we go through (to determine the future of the park) will be open to the public."
Tom Tatro gave Mary Fischer, president of local freeway landscaping group Garners Reclaiming Our Waysides, credit for making sure the freeway would have some sort of landscaping provision, even though Masayko alluded to his role in the agreement with the state to put soil on the freeway slopes. All candidates agreed that city officials and city residents need to diligently monitor the progress of the freeway now that there has been an agreement to fund both phases of the freeway.