Commission candidates outline their objectives

Matt Hyde, a candidate for Churchill Commission District 1, answers a question at the podium during Candidates Night. From left are candidates Rusty Jardine (District 3), Hyde, Todd Moretto (District 3), Julie Guerrero-Goetsch (District 1) and Eric Blakey (District 3).

Matt Hyde, a candidate for Churchill Commission District 1, answers a question at the podium during Candidates Night. From left are candidates Rusty Jardine (District 3), Hyde, Todd Moretto (District 3), Julie Guerrero-Goetsch (District 1) and Eric Blakey (District 3).

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The Fallon Post and Lahontan Valley News are sharing articles on the candidates seeking the Churchill County Commission, Justice of the Peace and Fallon mayor.
Candidates Night at the Fallon Convention Center held before 200 people featured five Fallon residents who are seeking a position on the Churchill County Commission. The forum was also broadcast by KVLV-AM and KKTU-FM radio stations and streamed on Network1Sports. Candidates for three offices — Fallon mayor, Churchill County Commission Districts 1 and 3 and Justice of the Peace recently participated in a Candidates Night which was hosted by the Churchill County Republican Central Committee along with The Fallon Post, Lahontan Valley News and Lahontan Valley Broadcasting Company.
Publisher Rachel Dahl of The Fallon Post reports on the Churchill County Commission candidates’ responses from Candidate Night.
Candidates for County Commission District 1 are Julie Guerrero-Goestch and Matt Hyde. Candidates for County Commission District 3 are Eric Blakey, Rusty Jardine, and Todd Moretto. John Caetano did not attend nor has he submitted a questionnaire.

Hyde is running in District 1 and currently serves on the Churchill County School Board of Trustees. He has completed the Certified Public Officials course at the University of Nevada. He is married to Nicole and they have raised their family here. He said he was encouraged by Assemblyman and former commissioner Greg Koenig to run for the seat.
“I am committed to this community and will be no matter how the election goes,” Hyde said.
Jardine is running for the District 3 seat and said he was encouraged by Assemblyman Koenig, Senator Robin Titus, former Commissioner Pete Olsen, current commissioners Justin Heath and Bus Scharmann and Ernie Schank to run for the position. He has four college degrees, one is a juris doctorate, and he is a former prosecutor.
“I have been a public servant all my life, for 25 years I have represented public bodies, including three county commissions, and eight years as a deputy civil district attorney for the Churchill County Commission,” Jardine said.
He then served at the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District as the general manager and for many years traveled the West in support of water rights.
“We speak ag, we speak water,” he said. “Water will sustain the growth we need. In order to do that we need the infrastructure and that means water.”
Guerrero-Goestch is running in District 1 and has lived in Churchill County for 24 years and raised her family here. Her husband is a Navy veteran, and she has two daughters. She has served the county for the past 20 years and is currently the administrative services manager and is a Churchill County School Board trustee.
Guerrero-Goestch has served on many other boards and committees, and wants to take that experience and transition into serving as a county commissioner.
“I believe in service above self and I will listen to the community,” she said.
Guerrero-Goestch said she has direct, relatable experience she wants to put to work for the community. “In January we will seat two new commissioners to the board, of a board of three, so now more than ever experience really matters.”
Eric Blakey is running in District 3. He is a local businessman, owning Hotwire Electric for the past 17 years, providing service to this community. He said he also has a strong public service career and is currently chairman of the Churchill County Planning Commission and a board member for the Churchill County Federal Credit Union.
Blakey is a retired member of the Fallon/Churchill Fire Department where he served for 20 years, nine of those years in the command division. He served as a reserve deputy sheriff from 2012 to 2018 and has also been a coach and board member of Churchill Youth Softball Association.
Blakey has been endorsed by the Sierra Nevada Realtors Association, which is 3,800 members strong.
“I have spoken with many citizens who have said they are ready for new and fresh leadership. I have a strong voice, strong opinion, and I’m someone who asks questions and demands answers. I am worried about the direction of this county if we don’t manage growth correctly,” he said.
Todd Moretto, running in District 3, commended his fellow candidates for their service to the community.
“I’m not a politician. I’m the local Fallon guy, and I have absolutely nothing to benefit from being your county commissioner and have no ulterior motive,” he said. “I see what this community does well and that’s the stuff we need to preserve. There’s a lot of stuff we do that we don’t need to do. Free enterprise takes care of a lot. We need to bring in entertainment, housing and development, we need hotels and motels.”

Budget Deficit
Jardine said this is a crisis we faced many years ago. Often times it means reducing departments by as little as 5%.
“As I see the county we are in good shape, we have funds and I’m proud of that. The single most important policy decision to be made every year is the budget. As any commissioner, you have fiduciary duties and the importance is to be cautious and strict about the expenditure of public funds. That is a sacred trust.”
Guerrero-Goestch said that as a county employee she is facing this at work every day.
“Projected revenues and budget requests are imbalanced which tells us we have to pull back the reins,” she said.
This is not the first time the county has encountered these kinds of challenges. She said the county works together as a team to make sure they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Blakey said when the numbers don’t align in a budget we have to factor in change and make sure every dollar accounted for and all work together.
“As a commissioner I will provide guidance how we can move back in line,” he added.
Moretto said, “I don’t understand why we have a hard time with this. Stop spending money on stuff we don’t need. We do not need to be in land development, don’t need to relocate county offices. We are moving departments to good property on Maine Street that we could have businesses in.”
Hyde feels the short term has been taken care of with the current plan for cuts, but, “for the long term this is going to take a lot of discussion at the commission level.”
He wants to see budget-to-actuals at every meeting and review accounting protocols.
“We need to be cognizant of grant spending and realize these projects come with operating expenses,” he said.

High Density Development and relationships with out of area developers
Guerrero-Goestch said it’s no secret this community needs housing.
“Inventory is low, and we need housing to serve existing residents, not just serve potential growth,” she said.
Guerrero-Goestch said “no proposed projects are being built because we need to complete infrastructure first. We need diverse options that are more affordable.”
Blakey said high density housing is coming and we can either manage it now or manage it after the fact.
“We have time to get infrastructure in place so when developers start building the housing will be where we want it,” he said.
Moretto said high density housing does put a strain on the relationship between developers and our county. Referencing property the county purchased off Coleman Road, he said that project won’t happen because a builder can’t make any money from that.
Hyde referenced Capt. Shane Tanner from Naval Air Station Fallon reporting to the school board recently that the base is going to grow 35% by 2026.
“High density housing will be a must and will have to be embraced,” he said.
Moretto said the issue is where it will be located and the rights of property owners must be balanced with neighboring communities and existing zoning has to be respected.
Jardine asked, “Do we care? We have a master plan that provides for this kind of development. We have a way of doing things here with sustained, slow growth according to our plan and we have a plan for changes in zoning.”

Higher density —  new codes, enforcement of existing codes
Blakey said when high density meets single family homes certain things must happen, developers must submit plans to mitigate and county responsibilities must be specified.
Moretto said he lives in the county and codes are not being enforced, and we need to do something to fix that.
Hyde said there are good ways to build multi-unit housing. He feels that people are confusing multi-unit housing and government subsidized housing. There needs to be restrictions and he will make sure the county gets that right.
Jardine said it is a delicate balance what government can impose on people who are developing. When it comes to public safety the government has the ability to set conditions and make sure those conditions are satisfied.
Guerrero-Goestch said higher density housing requirements depend on the subdivision itself. Multi-family or mixed use have different requirements such as open space, road standards, sidewalks, and street lights which also have enforcement requirements. We have to be careful about what we’re approving.

Master Plan
Moretto said he would like to see several changes to the master plan.
“The 3C Event Center is fabulous, but the fairgrounds need a lot of work,” he said.
Moretto referenced the $32 million grant application through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act and said when things are built with grant funding we have to figure out how to pay for operations after the fact.
As a member of the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival, he said the event is outgrowing the facility and the community misses out on a lot of events because there are not enough hotel rooms to accommodate attendees.
Hyde would like to see the Churchill Entrepreneur Development Association and Churchill Fallon Economic Development work together to recruit someone to build a hotel. He referenced the $32 million grant application for fairgrounds improvements, and said that project needs to be built as maintenance free as possible.
Jardine referenced the 3C Complex as a tremendous asset, saying the area has had 303,000 visitors in the past year with 549 event days, and added $9 million to the economy. He said the county should accentuate the successes we’ve had and increase our tax base.
Under mandates from the state we are required to increase the public defender’s office and need to increase employees at the sheriff’s office.
“We have to plan to continue to build from our successes,” he said.
Guerrero-Goestch said the master plan is the guiding document and should be reflective of what this community wants to see as its future. Community involvement is encouraged. We must not forget that our economy is rooted in agriculture. She has worked on the conservation easement program designed to protect ag and support the Navy mission from encroachment, and is proud that Churchill County is a green energy exporter.
Blakey said the Planning Commission has been in the process of revising and updating the master plan. He can confirm that the ideas and goals are current.
“We are finding that zoning needs correcting and we are working to support attracting people to 3C Complex with hotels and entertainment,” he said.
They are also working to support green energy development.


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