Carson City Mayor: Pete Hansell

Name: Pete Hansell

Age: 52

Education: Bachelor's degree from Evergreen State College and Master's of Business Administration from the University of Michigan

Political experience: Appointed to Lassen County's (California) Long-term Economic Development Committee and the Environmental Review Committee for the Planning Commission

Please write a short biography of yourself (you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement, family, etc.): Pete Hansell is married to Barbara Howe. He is the fourth of seven children and a fifth generation Westerner. His childhood: school, church, physical activity, and family. His Bachelor's focused on alternative energy and sustainable systems, MBA focus on finance and operations. Work history is entrepreneurial; he worked in the alternative energy field, founded a textile company, and presently is building an Internet site in China. Pete volunteered with youth teams, food kitchens, homeless shelters; he started a recycling program and a ride-sharing program; he has held leadership roles advocating social justice, resource conservation and democracy in politics.

Have you ever been arrested? If so, when and for what offense? I participated in some civil disobedience actions protesting nuclear testing in Nevada. I never was charged, possibly due to the large number of individuals involved with the protest. I cannot remember the date, maybe 1988.

Describe your vision for the Carson City of the future:

The good life is about family, friends and community. Carson City can become a place where we gather to celebrate community and our lives. But for this to occur, we must control the government spending and focus on quality and accountability. The government needs to increase its operational efficiency. The city's programs must have clear goals (formed by citizens and leadership) with measurable outcomes, holding the employees accountable to meet the outcomes, and lowering expenditures every year while maintaining or increasing citizen satisfaction. The city must stop the favoritism and start supporting a level playing field to attract viable industry.

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

The single most critical issue facing the government: falling revenues and how to reign in spending. We need to set a clear path for the government and identify core competencies. Hope, desire and wishing will not make the government less taxing on the citizens. The government needs to increase the operational efficiencies of its programs. Secondly, the city needs to focus on enhancing the livability of the community: let's slow down traffic, embrace equal justice under the law and have alcohol-free city-sponsored events, wholesome fun for our families. Let's attract businesses that can survive without our tax dollars.

Do you think Carson City has a healthy number of casinos? Would you support more casinos? This campaign is about leveling the playing field for businesses; the city can no longer decide winners and losers and pass out our tax dollars to their friends and clients. This simple policy change, along with focusing on quality of life issues, will allow Carson City to attract viable industry. I define viable as: provides great wages, demands an educated workforce that is able to compete in a global and regional marketplace, and does not need public funds to locate or remain in the community. Attracting new industry will help broaden the economic base of our town.

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

I examine the cost versus benefits before deciding if an investment is worthwhile. The government must identify its core competencies (what does it do well?) and perform proper financial analysis before spending citizens resources or money. The city is not in the business to create jobs, but to provide services and products as economically as possible. Understanding this, we must look to the private sector to assist us; outsourcing jobs that can be performed cheaper and with a higher level of quality. Just like the city staff, our contractors must be held accountable to meet benchmarks and outcomes.

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? This campaign is about bringing accountability to the city employees and government programs. We cannot continue to toss more money at every problem. Having lived elsewhere, why can't our sheriffs drive around with their windows open, remove their sunglasses, smile and start to engage the citizens. If gangs are a problem, we need to encourage these same gang members to participate in finding solutions. Our town needs to attract jobs that offer young people opportunities to prosper and participate in this community. My Spanish language skills would enable me to lead these discussions, demonstrating Carson City's commitment to this endeavor.

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? This campaign is about increasing the operational efficiency of our city government. A critical aspect of efficient operations is setting goals and implementing a clear system to measure if the goals have been accomplished. Secondly, employees must be held financially accountable for their performance. The public safety ballot initiative offers neither of these to the citizens. Without knowing the benefit, how can we support the tax increase?

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 am trained in business; an investment is worthwhile if the cost is less than the benefits. Neither the train nor the downtown studies provide a clear benefit to the community. The city must be savvy with the citizens' money. In any decision-making process regarding policy matters, we must see the numbers Ð a financial analysis. Secondly, we must ask if the policy enhances the livability of the community. Thirdly, if it concerns attracting a business to town, do they pay great wages, encourage an educated workforce and not require public funding. The city has not provided the numbers to me.

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

This campaign is about enhancing the livability of the community and about attracting businesses that pay great wages and encourage an educated workforce. It is about a government that prides itself on providing products and services for the best price. We need to slow down traffic, restore fairness in our justice system and rid ourselves of back door dealings. Recently, Barbara and I had visitors (from Seattle looking to move here) on a Friday night. Music, twelve blocks away (Third Street) rattled our double-pane windows; the visitors went to SW Reno to look for a house the next day.

Do you agree with one supervisor candidate's statement that Carson City has wasted assets and resources by poor planning in its projects? I asked Joe McCarthy for a list of businesses that receive our tax dollars and what type of jobs resulted (pay scale/benefits package.) I am still waiting. I looked for financials for the V&T and downtown redevelopment and found nothing that would justify any investment. There seems to be no study that justifies paying box stores to move to our town. These examples are the reason this campaign is about increasing the efficiency of our government programs, holding employees financially accountable for reaching goals and performing proper financial analysis before investing our valuable tax dollars in a project.

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? We have had a number of plans, which one is now being discussed? The Urban Land Institute's plan lacks two important details: no financials stating cost and benefits & no references as to why the institute was qualified to perform such a study. I spoke with two public relations officers and they could not provide me with a single downtown design that they prepared that was successfully constructed. This campaign is about accountability. We can no longer have our taxes be given to friends, family or business partners, but only to enterprises that add value to our community.

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?

As I stated in the Chamber forum, Mountain View (CA) did not give Google a dime, nickel or penny. The city should not be in the habit of giving tax dollars to a business, especially without any financials. To attract businesses, we need to first correct our own operations. Then, let us start to improve the quality of life in this town versus creating events that result in copious amounts of alcohol being consumed. I would work with the school board to improve the education system and workforce development opportunities so an educated workforce might desire to live here.

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

In the age of the Internet, what is the function of the library? That is the start of the discussion. Students meet tutors at the library; there is story time for youngsters; there is a wide selection of periodicals and soft chairs for reading. It is important for our citizens to enjoy reading so that they can become more aware of the issues facing our town. Using the paper and the city website, let us hold a community forum to examine the possibilities, the costs and the benefits. Let us use knowledge to make a decision about a knowledge center.

Do you believe Carson City has an adequate number of parks and similar facilities? Why? If a community does not acquire parks and open space when the land is not yet developed, it is very difficult to acquire them later. Carson will continue to grow in population. We will fill in the empty lots and increase the density of the city center. The question is, do we want to have access to the land or not? Communities that have said yes have had a higher success rate at maintaining the quality of life; whether it is Central park in NYC, the lakeshore in Chicago, the open space around Silicon Valley. Green space clearly enhances livability.

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?

Are you talking about Bob Crowell having a pig for years while other candidates cannot have some laying hens? Or, are you discussing why certain businesses seem to receive tax handouts when so many other enterprises must survive on their own business acumen? All the favoritism must stop; the way I will stop it is by holding employees accountable for reaching the goals of their programs. When a person's job is on the line, they will think twice before playing favorites with friends and family members; their livelihood will depend on it.

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

We must work regionally, with the state and the school district to combine our purchasing power to utilize sun, wind and geothermal resources. My undergraduate degree focused on alternative energy. We need to strengthen property rights. Peace and quite are important; we need to limit the volume level of music and other noise sources. Since we advertise our community as "dark sky", maybe the lights can be toned down Ð and if folks are set on a train, how about we have it go from Reno to Gardnerville? Imagine a beautifully central depot anchoring our downtown for commuters and tourists alike.


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