Carson City candidates take turn at election forum | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City candidates take turn at election forum

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Carson City office candidates faced off as part of a series of public forums on the upcoming election.

Kristin Luis and Ryan Russell, running for Justice of the Peace, Department 2; Sheriff Kenny Furlong and Lorne Houle, candidates for Sheriff; and Stacey Giomi and John Wood, vying for Supervisor Ward 1, all took the stage at the Brewery Arts Center's Performance Hall on Monday.

The candidates introduced themselves briefly, then spent most of the discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Giomi and Wood talked about growth, affordable housing, South Carson Street, and the city's new waste management contract.

Wood said he jumped into the race because of the plan to award the new trash pickup contract to a single vendor.

"The city is going to favor one business with a monopoly for Waste Management," said Wood, which he opposes.

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Giomi said the city was too small a market to support multiple vendors, and said the model is the same as for utilities, which provide vital services.

The candidates had different approaches to affordable housing, too.

"It is not easy to solve. You need to collaborate," said Giomi, who cited CPLC, a non-profit building housing in Dayton, opportunity zones created by new federal tax law where development is incentivized, and the possibility of dedicating some city-owned property to build workforce housing.

Wood said the city's role should be minimum.

"We don't need to pick and choose the winners," said Wood. "We should back off on regulations, back off on density and allow builders to build out more densely," on some projects.

When asked, the candidates saw different major challenges, too.

Wood said reducing regulations and government growth was the biggest issue facing Carson City.

"Our aging infrastructure is a huge issue," said Giomi. "And the homelessness issue is going to be a problem if we don't find a way to address that regionally."

Houle, a candidate for sheriff, used humor to comment on the gap in both age and experience between him and his opponent.

"I don't have as long a rap sheet as Kenny due to my age restrictions," said Houle during his opening remarks.

Houle said he was a military officer in the Marines Corps and was an applicant to join the police force in Orange County but voluntarily left due to the department's morale, and said he would bring integrity to a department he believes lacks the public's trust.

Furlong cited his education and 15 years experience as Carson City sheriff in his opening remarks.

Both Furlong and Houle agreed mental health issues, including substance abuse, are the sheriff's office biggest challenges.

Houle said the goal should be to de-escalate the situation.

"It is difficult for me to answer because I don't deal with this on daily basis," he said, when the candidates were asked how to address it.

Furlong cited several programs the city has already implemented and, during his closing remarks, said the city would be soon be hiring a full-time behavioral health officer.

Houle said another issue is the behavior of certain officers.

"Some deputies are rude and in my opinion they are out of control," he said.

Furlong said the sheriff's office tracks all its complaint and now with body cameras are able to investigate claims with video.

"Even today, as a report crossed my desk of a condescending officer, we went over the video," with the accuser, said Furlong. "It was not consistent with the complaint. Stress plays a part in how you see an officer treated you."

The candidates to replace retiring Justice of the Peace John Tatro agreed on most issues, both fully supporting the Mental Health Court Program, the Misdemeanor Treatment Court, and the Serious Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Program.

"They are valuable tools for the court," said Luis, Carson City assistant district attorney.

Ryan, partner, Alison MacKenzie and judge pro tem for the Carson City Justice Municipal Courts, agreed.

"Anything we can do to figure out why someone is offending will make our community safer," he said.

Both agreed the bail system is working, and that a situation like the Sean Laughlin case would never happen in Carson City.

Laughlin was stopped by a Nevada state trooper, who found an outstanding arrest warrant for a Sean Laughlin, a different man. Laughlin was put in a Lyon County jail, where he stayed for 18 days without access to an attorney or judge, until he was released.

Luis said Carson City relies on known identifiers and would never make the same mistake.

"I agree, it wouldn't happen in Carson City and shouldn't happen anywhere," said Ryan.

The other candidates for citywide office — Justice of the Peace Department 1 Tom Armstrong, Ward 3 Supervisor Lori Bagwell, Assessor David Dawley, Treasurer Gayle Robertson, Clerk-Recorder Aubrey Rowlatt, and District Attorney Jason Woodbury — all ran unopposed and were elected in June after the primary.

The election forums are hosted by the League of Women Voters.