County Commissioner

Commission candidates agree water, housing top county needs

Candidates also discussed issues ranging from NAS Fallon to rural way of life

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Four Republican candidates for Churchill County Commissioner Dist. 2 all agreed that water and housing top the list of challenges for the county.

Candidates Tanya Freeman, Myles Getto, Ken Harmon and Tom Riggins answered citizen-submitted questions at the Candidates’ Night held May 17 at the Fallon Convention Center.

Addressing the housing shortage, Getto emphasized his experience of approving or denying new developments while serving on the county planning commission for the past two years. He said his goal would be to preserve agricultural land by encouraging development on lands not already in ag production. Riggins said growth should be focused on the north-west sector of the county where water and sewer facilities already exist. Freeman also mentioned the need for infrastructure prior to any areas of development and said the water needs of new housing should always be questioned.

Harmon agreed to planned slow growth away from Naval Air Station Fallon, but asked what is “affordable?” He wondered if that meant lower-income units like apartments or nicer homes that no one can afford.

Regarding the county’s future economic development, Riggins suggested a “business park district” versus business lining the Reno Highway corridor. He envisions a business park with infrastructure where lots could be sized to suit. Getto said he’d like to see more light industrial businesses here, but also to diversify the ag-based businesses. Harmon said he wasn’t sure he’d want to see “big businesses” come to town when there are already available jobs going unfilled.

Turning to traffic concerns, Freeman said the county needs a highway bypass other than Sheckler Road and Sheckler Cut-Off. She also said the many unpaved roads in the county need better maintenance. Riggins cited a 2020 traffic study that showed Moody Lane connected to Coleman Road, but the study excluded Coleman Road improvements. He wants to see the county coordinate better with those issuing traffic studies and scrutiny of any new road expansions.

When asked how the county would pay for the staff for new buildings and projects, all candidates agreed the improvements would pay for themselves, alluding to the new Rafter 3C event center.
“The economic opportunities these projects bring us is unbeatable,” Getto said.

Freeman said raising taxes was “not an option,” and she would like to see more volunteer programs to help run events. Riggins said the new event center was reasonably priced to compete against Reno-area venues, and Harmon said if used appropriately, the center will make the county a profit, and visitors will help feed the local economy.

Regarding the NAS Fallon range expansion and modernization, Getto said he understands that 31 percent of Fallon’s economy is tied to NAS Fallon; however, he is not a supporter of the modernization act, and the land is important to citizens with grazing rights and mining pursuits. Riggins said the range expansion “will happen in some form” and that NAS Fallon has been a good neighbor by assisting with fire protection in the community. He mentioned the conservation easement program funded by NAS Fallon. The program helps landowners near the base transfer their future development rights to keep open land near the flightpath.

In their closing statements, the candidate’s summarized their reasons for pursuing office. Freeman said she’s not a politician but wants to serve the county and listen to citizens. Harmon, who recalled his father encouraged community service, said he would fight for our agriculture rights and would also listen to constituents. Riggins said his background in real estate, agriculture, finance and serving on other boards gives him the experience to be a county commissioner. Getto said he wants to serve to protect the rural way of life because he plans to retire here someday and wants to help shape the future.

As there was no candidate from the Democrat party for County Commissioner District 2, this race will be decided in the primary election on June 14.

Articles from the May 17 Candidates Night are the result of a community endeavor conducted by The Fallon Post, the Lahontan Valley News, Lahontan Broadcasting and the Churchill County Central Republican committee.


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