The four candidates for Carson City mayor provide an interesting mix of skills and personalities which, if we could pick and choose like Dr. Frankenstein, would add up to the perfect leader.
Ray Masayko, the incumbent, brings a manager's sensibility to the job, four years of experience and a willingness to step into the community at every opportunity to be the figurehead the mayor's job requires.
Tom Tatro shows consensus-building talents, a longer history of service on the Board of Supervisors and an even-tempered, analytical approach to problem solving.
Neil Weaver is feisty and pragmatic, a businessman with an eye on results, accountability and efficiency. He's the farthest of the four from politician status.
Tom Keeton is sophisticated, wise and enthusiastic. If this were a panel of "To Tell the Truth" contestants, he'd be the guy who looks and sounds like a mayor.
In going to the ballot box, Carson City voters are going to have to choose just one - warts and all. At this point, however, after interviews by Nevada Appeal editors and some members of our reader panel, we're hedging our bets with two recommendations: Masayko and Tatro.
We expect these two to be in a runoff in November, and by then we hope more of our questions will be answered.
Specifically, we think we'll feel better about choosing between the current mayor and a former supervisor when we can sort out some of the major issues, such as the Carson City bypass and dispatch-center computer system, on which Tatro has criticized Masayko.
Has the bypass somehow slipped on the Nevada Department of Transportation's list of priorities under Masayko's watch? His argument is that it is exactly where it was when Carson City and NDOT reached agreement and a nickel gas tax was imposed.
The other view has much to do with Interstate 580, which recently has been held up as an either-or proposition in connection with the bypass. Carson City residents think it's absurd to build an unneeded freeway to connect to a half-finished bypass, but it's not clear to us that the comparison means the second phase of Carson's bypass has somehow been pushed aside.
Another issue, the dispatch computer system, presents some interesting dynamics. In some eyes - particularly those of Sheriff's Department employees - Masayko was rude and obstructive on a matter they thought had been decided. Others see Masayko standing up for taxpayers by questioning the cost and compatability of a system that, eight months after the brouhaha, hasn't been installed.
In short, at the primary election stage, there is still considerable disagreement among Nevada Appeal editors as to whether Masayko should be replaced by Tatro.
As for the other two candidates: Weaver would make an interesting and energetic choice, and we like the kind of original thinking he brings to the race. Carson residents who think City Hall needs a breath of fresh air - perhaps even a Washoe zephyr of fresh air - should feel comfortable voting for him. But we suspect most voters are more or less satisfied with City Hall and prefer the status quo - represented by either Masayko or Tatro.
Keeton has the ability to make significant contributions to Carson City. He really hasn't been here long enough - three years - to move directly into the mayor's chair.
Forgive us for being unable to nail down a single choice at this point. And if we're wrong about a runoff, then Carson City voters will have decided the contest before we've settled our own minds. Nothing wrong with that, because we don't think there's a bad candidate in the bunch.
In the meantime, though, we urge voters to move both Masayko and Tatro into the final heat in November.