Three vying for Carson supervisor seat see position as a way to help the community

When Supervisor Kay Bennett decided to vacate her Ward 4 seat after three terms, it opened the door for three candidates.

And while the three men may not be as recognizable as Bennet, anyone who has followed Carson City politics for long will find the names familiar - Verne Horton, Frank Sharp and Richard Staub.

Horton, who has already put in 16 years of community service in various roles, said his run for supervisor "is a natural progression."

"This is a leadership role," he said. "As opposed to so many things you can do in this community that are advisory, this is an action position.

"Carson residents may want to elect someone with a proven track record. I've always felt that I can't continue to take from a community without giving back. I've proven my commitment to the community."

Horton, 59, moved to Carson City about 16 years ago from Southern California, partly through his profession as an artist and a connection to the state Railroad Museum. Rather than travel to Carson City to paint the trains, he decided to move here.

Horton served on the Regional Planning Commission for five years and for three of those was chairman. He resigned in December 1999 to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his decision to run for supervisor. Horton has served on several other Carson City committees, including the Architectural Review Commission, Mainstreet Council and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Horton, a semi-retired commercial and graphic artist, has one fundamental position he feels will drive his decisions as a supervisor.

"Carson City is going to be something 20 years from now," he said. "It's either going to be what we want or what we get.

"We're reaching buildout. Our resources are diminishing. It's critically important that we make decisions now to ensure the future for our children.

"We're at a point where we can't just let Carson take its course. Passive evolution is no longer acceptable. To achieve the results we want, the fundamental rule is to weigh current decisions not on the moment, but on the impacts they have on the future."

Horton said he doesn't see any areas where the city hasn't addressed any "burning issues." However, the city collectively needs to "decide what it wants to be," he said.

Transportation and economic development that will sustain a healthy economy are two important issues to Horton.

"That affects everything in the future," he said. "Everything we want now and in the future has a price tag."

Sharp describes himself as "one damn good candidate."

"I'm a problem solver," he said. "I see a problem, I want a solution to it."

A 20-year Carson resident, Sharp, 65, has been in the marketing and consulting business for years. He's helped put several local election campaigns together and through his work has paid close attention to local issues.

"People get involved in their communities for different reasons," Sharp said. "I chose the political end to help put good people in office."

Sharp said he believes the qualifications that would make him an ideal supervisor are his knowledge of local issues, of how the city operates and his insistence on knowing all the facts before making a decision.

Overall, the city is run well and hasn't done a bad job on most of its endeavors, he said. However, the city's financial dependence on retail sales-tax dollars worries him.

Sharp said even the advent of sales tax dollars from Costco won't fix the city's dependency on sales tax. Other sources of revenue must be identified, he said.

Growth, transportation, public safety and school safety are important as well as revenue for the city are important issues to Sharp, although he points out that as a supervisor, he wouldn't have the power to fix everything.

"I realize from being involved that the things that go wrong with the city aren't necessarily wrong," he said. "It's just the way it has to be. We sit out here and criticize everything (the supervisors) do. We judge them before we know the particulars. Sometimes before we start screaming, maybe we should look deeper and see.

"We (supervisor candidates) can't correct anything," Sharp said. "Decisions made 10 to 15 years ago affect us now. We can go into office and help administer, but it's impossible to fix it all. I'm a one-man vote. There are three other supervisors and a mayor. We need to work as a team.

"I've always wanted to run, but I didn't feel I was ready. They may say this is a part-time job, but it's not. I have the time and energy to do it."

Staub, except for his college and law school years, has lived in Carson City since he was in the third grade. His parents opened an A&W on Tenth Street in 1960.

Staub, 48, ran for the state assembly in 1982.

"I enjoyed the process," he said. "I didn't win, but I really enjoyed the people. I walked away and thought, "One day I'll do it again.'"

The time to do it again is now for the local lawyer/developer. After years of working to build his financial stability, he said he wants to help his hometown.

"With Kay leaving, it provided an opportunity to step into public service," Staub said. "As a lawyer, educator, manager, father, I can bring to the board a well-rounded background. I have the time to address the issues the city ought to address."

When he moved here in 1960, it was a town of 5,000, he said. No longer a small town, he believes the management of the city needs to evolve to that of a small metropolitan area.

He doesn't charge that the city hasn't tackled important issues appropriately but said it could be more efficient.

Ongoing revenue for the city is important to him as well as a closer look at who reports to whom in city government, law enforcement and traffic issues.

Staub commented on the Costco development, saying the "city should be commended on landing that type of project," but he asked if too many exceptions were made in favor of the giant retailer.

"Costco's a great addition to city," he said. "I'm a little concerned. If exceptions are made, they should be made for everyone. There needs to be a uniform application of laws and regulations. Don't throw away the book to complete the task."

Staub is concerned that laws are applied uniformly within not only development projects, but law enforcement as well, he said.


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