In the District 1 race for Storey County commissioner, relative newcomer Cathylee James is challenging long-time Virginia City resident John Flanagan in the Nov. 5 election.
A Virginia City resident since 1997, James does not want radical change in Storey County, where the budget registered a surplus of $1.8 million in the last fiscal year.
"Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center is doing very well and I see nothing but promise in the future -- we have a lot to be proud of," she said. "I have no desire to put the brakes on anything, but I do hope to bring a new perspective."
Her concerns revolve around the need for a revitalized business district on the Comstock. The county has serious water issues and she estimates that millions in Storey County sales tax revenues, those from the Industrial Center, are being misdirected to Washoe County.
James, 45, believes strongly in communication. Storey County has about 2,200 registered voters, spread among four small, distinct communities and she says much could be accomplished if commissioners had a few office hours every week.
Storey County's school board rotates meetings through the communities, which James believes is an effective way for commissioners to give people a chance to respond directly to the issues.
"It would give the people a sense of belonging," she said. "Open participation is empowering."
James was elected to the Storey County School board in 2000. She plans to leave that post if elected to the commission, but said she's accomplished her primary goal on the school board: reestablishment of a music program in Storey schools.
She is the daughter of a college professor. Her father filled in for other professors when they were on sabbatical and the family traveled extensively, moving to Nevada when she was in high school.
A single mother of two, James said she was looking for a place to raise her children and found it in Storey County.
"I'm a hometown person who believes in community and working together," she said. "The people are the best thing about Storey County."
She graduated with a degree in education from the University of Nevada, Reno with honors. She's held a number of jobs including a stint as an intelligence officer in the Air Force, Washoe County librarian, substitute teacher and a lobbyist at Alaska's state legislature.
She is executive director of the Comstock Arts Council, a VISTA volunteer and a performer with the Gold Hill Theater Troupe. Her son Skyler is 9 and daughter Daisey is 7.