Carson City mayor: Ken Haskins

Ken Haskins' Answers to Nevada Appeal Questions for Mayor Candidates, 22 July 2008

Name: Ken Haskins

Age: 54

Phone number and campaign Web site: www.KenHaskinsForMayor.com

Education: B.A., Church Growth (Theology & Administration), Pacific Christian College, 1978

M.A., Church Administration, Hope International University, 1988

D.Min., Friends International University, 1991

Political Experience: None, except Member of Family Life Advisory Committee for the Carson

City School District.

Please write a short biography of yourself (you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement, family, etc.):

Born in 1954 in Danville, IL and reared in Simi Valley, CA, Ken married his high school sweetheart, Cathy, in 1972. After he completed college, they moved to Carson City in 1980 so Ken could become Pastor of the First Christian Church. Over the years, he completed graduate studies and has been involved in many community activities. They have two daughters, Monica and Veronica, and three grandchildren, Wyatt, Brooklyn and Madelyn. They have been happy Carson residents for 28 years. Ken was also a radio personality for 19 years, and his hobbies include sports, music, old cars and radio.

Have you ever been arrested? If so, when and for what offense?

I have never been arrested and have not even gotten a traffic ticket since age 16. (Second question is therefore not applicable.)

Describe your vision for the Carson City of the future:

Carson City is already a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire -- which is why Cathy and I love it and are permanent residents. I envision an even better Carson City of the future: an attractive downtown with thriving businesses; safe neighborhoods with well-appointed homes; and clean family-friendly parks, well-maintained streets (including completed arterials and freeways) and other public facilities. Special events and tourist attractions will bring many visitors to CC, benefiting a strong local economy anchored by the state capital and being Nevada's most diversified economy. And open, transparent, accountable, efficient and responsive local government.

List the three most important issues Carson City will face in the next few years:

1) Improving public safety, especially combating illegal drugs and gang activity;

2) Economic issues of providing appropriate and quality services, while balancing the

City budget by efficient management and trimming spending, not raising taxes; and

3) Finishing the freeway and major arterials while maintaining well other City facilities.

Do you think Carson City has a healthy number of casinos? Would you support more casinos?

Carson's current supply seems to just meet demand Ð but gaming regulation is mostly the province of the State, not City. We've had measured growth over a number of years, and no busts or significant numbers of establishments in distress. If private investors are willing to risk money, believing that new attractions and modest population growth will increase visitor volume, I could support City approval of reasonable, attractive new operations. Carson is fortunate to have Nevada's most diversified county economy and not be in the dire straits into which the current gaming recession has put Clark County and the State.

If the city continues to face budgetary problems, would you consider layoffs as part of the solution?

While nobody wants anyone lose a job, layoffs cannot be ruled out. However, as the State's response to its current budget problems shows, there are many options well short of layoffs to carry us through the current revenue shortfalls: attrition, not filling vacancies, buyouts, early retirements, and one-shot spending reductions and revenue sources. I am the only candidate who has committed to appointing a citizens committee (similar to the Grace and SAGE commissions) to improve City operating efficiency and cut costs while maintaining service quality. Carson has somewhat anticipated the current softness and managed its costs in anticipation.

How would you characterize the level of crime in Carson City, including gang-related crime? Do you believe the City needs more law enforcement officers?

Crime is relatively low in Carson City, less than 74% of national and western states overall levels, and it has declined slowly in recent years. Law enforcement has done a very good job, and even though we have our share of minor and serious crime, people feel safe. Due to geography, Carson has become a center of illegal drug traffic and the gang problems related to it. While more cops on duty would be helpful, with current economic conditions, now is not the time to add to the already heavy burdens of tax-paying property owners in Carson City.

How will you vote on the public safety ballot question that asks voters if they want to increase their property taxes to add more firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers?

With gas prices soaring, some people struggling to make their mortgage payments and a few even to put food on the table, I cannot support this tax increase Ð especially with crime low and declining and overall public safety good. As Mayor, I will embrace and implement the decision of the people on this matter. I will not campaign against this ballot question, but I cannot vote for a tax increase, which would further burden the taxpayers of Carson City. Our voters have not been stingy, and they need relief more than law enforcement needs new officers at this time.

How will you vote on the V&T tax ballot question, which proposes using sales tax to provide $10 million for the railroad in return for a share of the profits?

I will vote "no". Of course, I'd like to see the V & T succeed and add another tourism attraction. Our church made a small donation of land to it, as have other businesses and private organizations, and private funds should be sought to finish it. Another problem is that other counties have equal representation on its governing board, although Carson City has contributed about $21-million and they have collectively contributed less than $3-million. Perhaps any profits should be divided between counties proportional to contributions. Tax dollars can be better used for infrastructure, such as streets and water treatment.

What impression do you think Carson City makes upon visitors? What things can be done to improve Carson's "first impression"?

Carson City makes a good first impression upon visitors through her overall attractiveness, historical districts, views of the Sierras, arts and cultural events, parks and recreational areas, great climate, pleasant residential neighborhoods and friendly, industrious people. Attention to a few blighted areas and working via redevelopment to improve them would improve visitors' first impressions of Carson City. Perhaps Carson's biggest problem is locational: getting people here in the first instance to experience the very good first impression.

Do you agree with one supervisor candidate's statement that Carson City has wasted assets and resources by poor planning in its projects?

It is easy to criticize. What specific projects is the candidate referring to in his complaint? Until specifics are provided, it is difficult and not particularly useful to speculate. As stewards of public funds and trust, all elected officials need to be prudent and evaluate carefully any spending, planning and other resource commitments. To the extent there are such problems, I believe my proposal for a citizens committee to review and streamline City operations will bring them forward and propose solutions.

Carson City has a detailed plan to make the downtown more inviting to walking traffic, which includes a reduction in lanes. Do you support the plan? What are your ideas for improving downtown?

While I support many of its ideas for downtown, I am not in favor of reducing lanes on Carson Street at this time. Carson City is not Sutter Creek. Carson is a capital city of nearly 60,000 residents. Most of them travel to work, lunch and home at the same time as the others. How would a reduction in lanes work at those peak times? I'm open to information to the contrary, but not yet convinced that this is right for Carson City. As Mayor, I would work with downtown redevelopment to attract small businesses and help them flourish.

The city has recently attracted retailers by offering monetary incentives. Do you support this policy? If not, what strategy do you believe the city should use to attract businesses to locate here rather than in nearby communities?

I support the policy if it can be shown in each case to be in Carson City's best interests. What will be the return on the investment of tax dollars? How will the investment be protected? Redevelopment is a tool we can use, but we need strict policy, guidelines and regulations for the City to follow when it offers incentives to insure fairness to all. Especially in view of Lyon County's current problems, if Carson continues to make itself business friendly and invite business in via reasonable fees, ordinances, zoning and incentives, it will attract business.

Do you believe Carson City's library is adequate? Why?

I do believe that Carson City's library is adequate. The key word is "adequate." More and more people do their research and other reading at home on personal computers. Considering that most people will use libraries perhaps less often in the future and taking into account that Carson City will not continue to grow beyond a population of 75,000, I believe that present facilities are "adequate." Because the library is a major City asset, I would expect my citizens committee to find ways to maximize its value to Carsonites at reasonable cost.

Do you believe Carson City has an adequate number of parks and similar facilities? Why?

Carson City has some great parks, but taken as a group and compared to our overall need, they are only adequate. I want to see more parks and athletic facilities, especially when certain programs, such as softball, have proven to be a boon to local businesses and have increased City revenues. However, I would not want to raise taxes to make it happen, so we need to wait for the return of economic prosperity and then invest in such capital assets as parks, instead of using increased revenues at that time to fund inflation in operating costs.

Some candidates have made comments about some residents being subjected to treatment less fair than others'. Do you agree? If so, in what areas has this occurred?

Again, it is easy to complain. I have not found this to be true. What specific case is the candidate referring to? Until specifics are provided, it is difficult and not particularly useful to speculate.

What else would you like to say to voters about your qualifications and ideas?

Some folks think that one must choose between being a tightwad and caring for people. Not true! Not being a politician, I've dedicated my 28 years here to helping real people with real needs in many private and volunteer capacities in community shelters, schools, hospitals and other venues. As Mayor, I'll still do those things and encourage others to do them, too, but I'll also aggressively protect your pocketbook and property rights. I'll stay focused on the basics of City government: public safety, efficient management, finishing the freeway and major arterials, a better business climate and responsible redevelopment management.

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