Commissioner candidates for district 1 | NevadaAppeal.com
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Commissioner candidates for district 1

The same questions were asked of all candidates who running for the two district Churchill County Commission seats. Responses to those questions will be grouped by District 1 and District 3. Candidates will be listed alphabetically as they are on the ballot.

All responses have been edited only for spelling and punctuation, and no content has been changed. In addition, all candidates are responsible for their own comments, and any false or misleading statements are the responsibility of the candidate and not The Fallon Post or the Lahontan Valley News.

CHURCHILL COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 1 – JUSTIN HEATH, Republican

My name is Justin Heath. I grew up in Fallon and graduated from Churchill County High School in 1993. Upon graduating, I join the Marine Corps and served about five years before returning to Fallon. I attended WNC and obtained my associates degree. I then transferred to UNR where I participated in Army ROTC. Upon graduating I was commissioned into the Navy and attended medical school at Touro University of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California. Following medical school, I was transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to complete residency in Family Medicine. I finished my Navy career at Naval Hospital Lemoore. I returned to Fallon after 12 years in the military to serve my community as a Family Medicine physician. I am running for county commissioner to continue to serve my community by keeping Churchill County a safe place to live and raise a family but also continue to improve the health and quality of life of the county residents.

1. Why should water be a priority for the Lahontan Valley?

Water is an important commodity in the Valley since we live in a very arid climate. Water coming into the Lahontan Valley needs to be protected to keep agriculture productive and to help replenish our ground water. Every effort needs to be done to keep water rights in Churchill county and prevent any diversion of the Carson River.

2. During the past five years, great steps have been taken to improve the quality of life in Churchill County What do you envision for the next 5 years? 10 years?

Quality of life is very important to the people of Churchill County. It has been great to see this improve over the years but more needs to be done. The county is still lacking in good paying jobs and affordable housing. It is difficult to find a good paying job unless you work for the base, hospital or government. We need to bring in better paying job instead of having people drive to USA parkway. Affordable housing is a must within the county. Currently, the county is lacking new affordable homes or even places to rent at an affordable price. This should be one of the top priorities for the county commission.

3. What should be the relationship between the county and the Bureau of Land Management?

The relationship with the BLM should be synergistic with the county. The land and wildlife need to be maintained and protected but also allow full access for hunting and recreational use. It is very important the two entities work together.

4. What issues facing Churchill County would you prioritize in the area of public health and safety?

At this moment the most important area of public health is COVID-19 and closure of businesses. The economy and healthcare are related with one another. We do not know how long this pandemic will go on or if a successful vaccine will be developed. The curve has been flattened and the stay-at-home orders need to be lifted completely. We need to open all business now and take precautions to protect high risk populations. More testing needs to be done and it should be a rapid test and not one that takes days to get results. This would help us with quick quarantining of people who are sick and quickly stop the spread.

Alcohol and drug addiction and drug abuse are also a widespread problem within the county. Every effort needs to be done to continue with programs to stop and prevent drug abuse and continue supporting organizations such as New Frontier Treatment Facility.

5. How should the county handle its relationship with the Navy due to the range expansion and modernization?

The county has done a great job handling the range expansion. More needs to be done, though, to prevent the Navy from taking more land than they need to complete their modernization. I believe their current plan expands too much into public and Native lands.

6. Should the county approach growth as planned growth or full speed ahead?

The county should approach growth as planned growth but at a faster rate than what is currently happening. More jobs and housing should be a top priority. The Industrial Park development in Hazen needs to continue to be pursued.

7. How important (or not) is it for the county and WNC to work together?

The county and WNC need to work together and increase classes at the local level. The nursing program needs to be continued at the Fallon location along with EMT/Paramedic training. Classes for high school students to obtain an associate degree has been a great addition to WNC. I would like to see more evening classes in Fallon so working students can attend without having to drive to Carson City.

8. What should the city-county relationship look like in governing?

The county and city should be equal partners with governing the county and should work together to improve the quality of life and defend the Constitutional rights of the residents.

9. What do you see the future of the city and county working with the Churchill Economic Development Authority?

Now more than ever the city and county along with the Churchill Economic Development Authority need to work together to improve the economy of the county after the economic disaster the state government has put the people into. They will need to work together to bring in new businesses but also work together to sustain agriculture and small businesses. Agriculture and small business will need as much assistance as possible to help them survive and prosper now and in the future with this economic crisis.

CHURCHILL COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 1 – HARRY “BUS” SCHARMANN, Republican

I have served as County Commissioner for District 1 for seven years. During that time we repurposed the county library, built the Pennington Life Center (Senior Center), built the new Law Enforcement Facility, coordinated the “Big Dig” of 2017 with other local, state, and federal agencies. Prior to serving as a county commissioner, I served as the Interim Churchill County School District Superintendent of Schools for 2012-13. Prior to that responsibility, I served as the Dean of the Fallon Campus & Off Campus Programs for Western Nevada College for the last 15 years of my 37 years of service for WNC.

1. Why should water be a priority for the Lahontan Valley?

 Continue vigilance regarding the upstream use of both the Truckee and Carson rivers, assure the underground aquafer is replenished appropriately, continue exploration and feasibility of Dixie Valley water sources and continued the cooperation with the Truckee Carson Irrigation District with flood control and water efficiencies.

2. During the past five years, great steps have been taken to improve the quality of life in Churchill County What do you envision for the next 5 years? 10 years?

Improving the quality of life for the county’s residents has also been a top priority for the county. During the past four years, a new multimillion law enforcement building opened as did the William N. Pennington Life Center, the new home for the county’s senior citizens. The county could’ve faced lawsuits if a new jail hadn’t been built, and the former facility had officers working in unsafe conditions. Promote health and safety if re-elected, citing additional areas of continual support for the Public Health Board initiatives, plans to slow the effects of opioid and meth epidemics and explore ideas for dealing with the homeless population. The health board has been more proactive in dealing with drug crisis and also with mental health. As for the county’s homeless population, solicit more help from the churches and find a way to establish a shelter.

3. What should be the relationship between the county and the Bureau of Land Management?

The BLM is having a philosophical change and is looking at target and outcome-based grazing. The agency is working with ranchers and involving them with the decisions. The commission and BLM have a good working relationship. I also favor the move of BLM headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colo, so the decision-makers will be closer to the people and areas they serve.

Not only has the relationship with the BLM been good, but during the flood mitigation of 2017, the county also worked with the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Navy and many more.

4. What issues facing Churchill County would you prioritize in the area of public health and safety?

As a county commissioner, I am vice chairman of the Commission, a member of the County Public Health Board, Chairman of the Pennington Life Center Coalition and a member of the Churchill County Hospital Board. The health and safety of our residents is our most important priority, always, but certainly at the forefront now with the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Our hospital, Banner Churchill Community Hospital, and other care facilities must be highly rated and our law enforcement agencies need to be prepared and supported. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an entirely new concern for our local community, state, nation and world. The closing of schools and local businesses has been a tremendous problem for the city and county, and the health of our residents is of paramount concern. I believe the county, in its work with Banner Churchill Community Hospital and other local and state agencies, have prepared for and even gotten ahead of the COVID-19 in Churchill County. We have placed tents at the hospital and worked with the state to have the necessary equipment available to health care providers. Testing equipment is critical to maintain a healthy community and that continues to be a problem that we are resolving at this writing. Preserving our economy is another obstacle. I agree with the president’s three phase program.

5. How should the county handle its relationship with the Navy due to the range expansion and modernization?

It is also critical that we continue to civilly negotiate to our satisfaction the Navy Modernization Plan, as it is essential to the future of Churchill County and the State of Nevada. This includes gaining Congressional approval for the Churchill County Lands Bill.

6. Should the county approach growth as planned growth or full speed ahead? 

It is also my position that Churchill County needs to grow, and that growth needs to be managed so that it benefits the county economically, socially, and environmentally. Growth must include industrial and housing that will not negatively affect the agricultural industry of the county. Growth also requires improvements to our infrastructure. This means improving roads and bridges where residential and industrial growth occur and constantly improving roads throughout the county. A healthy and safe community, managed industrial and residential growth with adequate water for our needs, a professional and reciprocating relationship with the Navy, and a modern and efficient infrastructure have been and remain my primary focuses for Churchill County. 

7. How important (or not) is it for the county and WNC to work together?

 The county supports WNC and its nursing program, which has returned some classes to Fallon. The campus, which was decimated by cuts eight years ago, has been coming back, and enrollment is up 16%. The Board of Regents must bring back the Rural Formula, which was eliminated in 2013. The formula provided additional funding for the rural campuses because classes attracted fewer students than those attending a two-year college in Reno or Las Vegas.

8. What should the city-county relationship look like in governing?

 Although the city and county are separate governments, they pool their resources together such as with the flood mitigation of 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The city and county have worked together on resolutions to provide safety to the community and to ask the governor to rescind certain restrictions on rural county business. Both governments have also worked together to recognize the need for a new senior center, a law enforcement center and jail and youth club.

9. What do you see the future of the city and county working with the Churchill Economic Development Authority?

The city, CEDA and county need to work together for economic development. The Churchill Hazen Industrial Park (CHIP) will require infrastructure development. Rather than depend on the taxpayer for these needs, the county is currently moving forward with federal grant opportunities to fund the needed infrastructure. It is also important that water conservation be a necessity. That is why all new developments are encouraged to connect to the county water and waste water systems. With the Navy Modernization, active duty families will be looking for homes. Therefore residential housing must include single and multiple family affordable housing. The Churchill County Lands Bill will enhance the geothermal, mining, and grazing development within the county and enhance the lifestyle of our residents.