The race for Carson City mayor has boiled down to four central issues on which voters should decide whether Ray Masayko has performed well and should be retained, or whether he should be replaced by former supervisor Tom Tatro.
Both men, it should be noted, are competent and capable. They have the experience, leadership qualities and knowledge needed to occupy the city's top position. In this voters can be assured that no matter which one they choose, Carson City will be well served.
But choose they must. Here's how we see it:
- Bypass. Did Masayko drop the ball, as Tatro has charged?
The facts of the matter are that Carson City found itself in 2000 exactly where it was in 1997, when the gas tax was approved. It had a commitment from the Nevada Department of Transportation for the northern half of the freeway, but none for the southern half.
As 2000 nears an end, it now has a commitment for the southern portion - albeit, for a completion date in 2008 or 2010, which is at least two years later than we had hoped.
But it took the initiative of state Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, to get the ball rolling. Masayko met with Gov. Kenny Guinn, resolved some issues, and that commitment was made on Masayko's watch. We would be hard-pressed to say, however, that the leadership came from the mayor's office.
- Emergency dispatch center. After months of study, a city committee recommended a state-of-the-art computer system that would cost twice the estimate. Masayko, prodded by other city employees, questioned the committee's decision.
Although Masayko was within his rights - indeed, his obligation to taxpayers - to question the committee's recommendation, the way he handled it created unnecessary tension among city departments.
- Costco. When city officials were rushing to close an exclusive deal with the warehouse store for a piece of prime city property, Masayko voted "no" on the designation of the property near Fuji Park as part of the city's redevelopment district.
It was largely a symbolic vote - the deal went through - as Masayko raised concerns that other retailers, specifically Wal-Mart, might be interested in the site near Fuji Park.
Again, Masayko fulfilled a legitimate role as a watchdog, and his stance was healthy skepticism rathern than anti-business. Tatro's point, though, has been that the mayor should be leading the charge for what the city needs - in this case, $1 million in annual sales tax - rather than following it.
- Full-time mayor. Although this issue has gotten the most attention, it's not necessarily the most important. Masayko revels in the role of mayor, makes himself easily accessible and shows up at public events with admirable regularity.
Tatro, who has a full-time job with the state, showed during his stint as a supervisor that he is capable of meeting his obligations as an elected official. Until Carson City residents choose to pay for a full-time mayor, we shouldn't hold it against a candidate that he is gainfully employed.
The city manager is ultimately responsible for day-to-day operations of the city. It's a bonus to have a mayor who can spend so much time fulfilling the ceremonial role of the office.
If voters agree those are the main issues of the campaign, then they must agree that Masayko has been a capable caretaker of the office and can be safely trusted with it for another four years.
But they must also ask themselves whether they are ready for more from the position - for vitality and leadership that Tatro promises to bring to the mayor's office. We think the office can and should be entrusted to Tatro - he's hardly an unknown quantity - for the next four years.
Tatro has campaigned on issues and tried hard to criticize Masayko's performance without criticizing the man, a worthy endeavor. Because Masayko has worked hard at serving Carson City's residents the past four years, he deserves our respect and our thanks.
The differences between the two are not great, but they are not meaningless. Both want to serve Carson City, so it comes down to who will do the best job of moving Carson City forward the next four years. We believe Tatro is the better choice.