Election 2016: Carson City Mayor | NevadaAppeal.com

Election 2016: Carson City Mayor

Chris Carver
Chris Carver |

CHRIS CARVER

Occupation: Retired

Age: 56

Contact information: 775-720-6423, chris@ChrisCarver.org; www.ChrisCarver4Mayor.org

Record of service: 24 year US Army; retired Major; 9 years Department of Defense; 2 years Department of Homeland Security. Military: Special Forces, Counterintelligence Special Agent, numerous specialized training and leadership courses

Education: BS, State University of New York; MS, Strategic Intelligence, Defense Intelligence College; US Army Command and General Staff College

Robert L. “Bob” Crowell

Occupation: Retired

Age: 70

Contact: rlcrowell@charter.net; 775-883-1136; www.mayorbobcrowell.com

Record of Service: Public: Mayor, Carson City 2009-current; Trustee and Past President, Carson City School Board 1997-2008; Commissioner and Past Chairperson, Colorado River Commission of Nevada 1987-1996; Member and Past Chairperson, Governor’s Greater Sage Grouse Advisory Committee 2012; Member of the Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railroad 2009-current; Naval Aide to the Governor 1986; Member, Commissioning Committee, USS Nevada (SSBN 733) 1986; Private: Retired stockholder member, Kaempfer Crowell, a statewide law firm; Governor and Past President, State Bar of Nevada; Member and Past President, Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board; Member, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers; Member, Best Lawyers in America®, Energy and Government Relations; Member and Past Chairperson, Carson City Chamber of Commerce; Member and Past President, Rotary Club of Carson City; Member and Charter President, Carson City Council, Navy League of the United States; Military: United States Naval Reserve, 1967-1990; Rank upon retirement, Captain, United States Navy; Vietnam Veteran 1969-1970, 1972; Member, Vietnam Veterans of American, Chapter 388

Education: Stanford University, B.A., Economics, 1967; Hastings College of the Law, JD, Law, 1973; Naval War College Short Course, 1986

Chris Carver

A brief statement about your platform

The core of my platform principles are integrity, accountability, and true representation of our citizens. As your mayor, I will: Return your faith and confidence in city government by fairly and fully representing the course of action that benefits the greatest majority of our citizens. There will be no more “sweetheart deals” and consultant contracts that do not serve the public. I will use a collaborative annual budget building process with citizens, staff, and elected representatives to reduce the cost of government, not incur unnecessary debt, and fully account for your tax money.

Support responsible growth that accounts for the impact on our neighborhoods, our utilities, and our government services. We will adhere to our zoning and growth ordinances and exceptions will be just that, exceptions.

Be a true representative of the public interest by promoting a smaller and more efficient government that is focused on the essential services our community needs. In concert with city staff and the Board of Supervisors, I will build a public 5-10-20 strategic plan for our water, sewer, solid waste, and roads.

This is the change we need; only your vote can make it happen.

Do you agree with Carson City’s current growth ordinance? Why or why not?

I believe our growth ordinance has been misused. The majority of projects under development or permit have sought and obtained exceptions to our Master Plan. The Growth Ordinance is viewed by some as a “developers guide” to promote rapid as densely as the market will allow. When you drive down the main corridors of our city you will easily see where previously such rapid growth in the commercial sector has failed miserably. I fear we are doing the same thing under the current emphasis for denser neighborhoods and the “mixed use” backfill that is currently in vogue. We need growth but it should not come artificially or forced. It should be the product of a stable economy, of new jobs and markets that will bear the real cost of growth. I have never heard anyone tell me they came here to escape a small town and can’t wait for our city to reach its capacity of a little over 80,000 people. Instead, I’m told that we are destroying the quality of our small town with density, commercial activity in residential areas, and a “metropolitan” vision for our downtown. Many people have come here to escape these very things and we should not try to replicate them here. We need healthy, diversified growth driven by the demands of our citizens, not the profit margins of the development market. Lastly, our growth ordinance is missing two components: the burden of growth on our existing utility infrastructure and the funding source for infrastructure improvements.

What is your top priority for Carson City in 2017?

What should be the top priority for all of us is “infrastructure.” This includes our water, sewer, solid waste, and roads. This summer, homeowners saw their waters bills jump significantly and we still have another year of increases scheduled for next year. After deciding not to build our own treatment plant, our Board invested over $30 million to bring water in from Minden to make our drinking water safe; the base cost of that commodity is also increasing. We do not control the cost, and in some cases the source, of the resources we need. In the case of drinking water, we have capacity or “water rights” but we do not have meaningful analysis on the cost of that resource. Our sewer treatment relies on disposing of reclaimed water, yet from June to October, this system was augmented with over 58 million gallons of fresh water to make the system work. Our dump is within 50 years of reaching maximum capacity according to city sources. The costs of EPA compliance for sealing a landfill and starting a new one are huge. Lastly, the poor condition of our roads didn’t occur overnight. After years of intentional neglect and procrastination, we are being forced to accept rate, fee, and probably tax increases to fix problems that have been years in the making. My top priority is to build a 5-10-20 plan for our critical infrastructure that provides for our current and future needs. I intend to streamline personnel and resources while cutting every discretionary expense in our budget to address these problem areas.

In your opinion are arts, events, and cultural happenings important to Carson City economy?

I believe the fair, when it was under city management was vital to our community. We need a place and events where our community can come together to celebrate life in our town. Events like 4H and FFA, art and cultural displays are part and parcel of small town life. It gives our local artisans, home town personalities, and local interests a place to celebrate our city and it’s culture We needed to do a better job with the fair, not hand it over to a for-profit to make yet another carnival. I have mixed feelings with Epic Rides and other “sports tourism” events. Without an independent audit, the claimed economic benefit is just a marketing gimmick. Epic rides cost the city $30k which was added to the amount the Visitors Bureau paid. This occurred during the same time where there was debate on whether to fund the fireworks for Independence Day or help with the PowWow. In that comparison, what we do for our own community is more important than tourism. Tourism does benefit our economy but it is not the driving element. Most come here to enjoy our history and the impressive Capitol grounds. We should celebrate our historical identity and unique place in Nevada’s history with events for our community to which tourists are invited. The practice of “build it and they will come,” especially for niche markets, rarely works for cities of our size and soaking the tourists is unethical, no matter where it happens.

How should Carson City ensure there are affordable housing options available for its residents, especially veterans?

If elected, I intend to establish a citizens committee to address this issue in conjunction with the “stay-by-the-month” hotels. I believe low cost hosing serves a vital purpose in our city but…if you’re a hotel, you pay hotel taxes and most of our long-term properties don’t. The issue of affordable housing is complex and will involve a “whole of government” response to address and it won’t happen overnight. We need a collaborative effort to help those with metal health, substance abuse, legal, and physical limitations. There must be room in the discussion for faith-based solutions and we have to be willing to accept risk; that some of the ideas won’t work out. Other communities have tried “tiny house” communities, conversion of commercial property, and builder/non-profit partnerships to build affordable housing. I’ve been honored to listen to numerous organizations in our community that have some great ideas; I’d like to work with them to try some solutions. However, “affordable” doesn’t mean high-density with variances for roads and setbacks. We desperately need to work on solutions for our disabled vets beyond housing but also in transportation and providing care. We also need “exit strategies” for those who are capable of independent living without assistance. Some of our vets are “locked in” because every dollar goes to this month’s rent and food. We can work together to help them gain a more stable lifestyle.

Is Carson City’s workforce prepared for the kind of businesses the city is hopeful to attract? What should be done?

I have a difficult time understanding those who insist we will have a future that resembles the “Jetsons” with flying cars and robots while maintaining the tranquility and community of “Mayberry RFD.” But…the short answer is “no, our workforce is not prepared.” With the current trend to focus on STEM and college, we’ve lost sight of the fact that most of the workforce that makes our city run is the trades. Heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, auto mechanics, basic electrical, machine maintenance, and many more skills are no longer taught in high schools. In many larger communities, the private sector has stepped up to provide specific training but draw regionally to keep classes full. Our city doesn’t have healthy apprenticeship programs; most construction and trade skills are learned on the job. We have a demand for trades, sales, and service industries for those not bound for college and I’d like to see some entrepreneurial effort towards providing these skills. If our current markets continue to expand, we’ll need ACE auto mechanics, certainly residential and commercial heating, air and plumbing, structural maintenance, healthcare, and transportation. We can start by bringing back the “open house” where local trades and industry met with high school students to explore options though I’ve been told that to get started the high tech fields, industry needs to reach kids in middle school. We can partner with the private sector to use our commercial space as training grounds for the skills we need. Lastly, we can bring some jobs and industry here by improving our infrastructure, including broad-band access. Medical billing, insurance adjustment, design, even teaching can be done here if we have the data bandwidth to do it remotely. The idea that everyone must go to college to be successful is not true but having an education that is applicable to the workforce demand is absolutely a fact of life.

Robert L. “Bob” Crowell

A brief statement about your platform

A Sustainable Community: Carson City is not only the capital of our state but rich in history in its own right with its own unique identity and quality of life. At the same time, the northern Nevada region is undergoing a dramatic economic diversification.

A sustainable community is one that:

Has the ability to remain safe, healthy, vibrant and successful over the long term; Promotes education, workforce development and healthy lifestyles;

Provides for public safety and has a quality of life that appeals to all, young and old alike;

Provides a place where families can feel secure in raising their children and seniors can retire in a safe living environment;

Provides an infrastructure that attracts workers and businesses alike; and

Has an open, transparent, efficient and responsive government where governing and government are inclusive.

A sustainable community is also one where its residents have a strong sense of place and pride in their community and collective well-being. It is a community where mutual respect by, among and between all residents is a paramount value.

This is a great time to live in Carson City and our community motto, “Proud of its Past, Confident in its Future” says it all.

Do you agree with Carson City’s current growth ordinance? Why or why not?

A growth management ordinance has been in effect in our community since 1979. It is a planning tool most cities do not have. Among other matters the ordinance declares that “The ability to provide essential resource or service at the quality and quantity desired by the community is an integral part of the city’s quality of life.” It has served and continues to serve our community well.

The ordinance applies to all residential real property that is required to be served by city water and/or sewer facilities. The Planning Commission serves as the Growth Management Commission. The Commission meets annually and submits its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors concerning the number of residential building permits to be fixed for the second year following. In making that determination the Commission reviews at least the following essential services: water, sewer, police, fire, traffic, drainage, schools and parks. The Commission has the authority to recommend a cessation of residential growth for an interim period of time.

Carson City’s “build-out” population has historically been pegged at between 75,000 and 80,000 based upon known and projected resources. The growth management ordinance provides for not only an annual check on the reasonableness of those resources but a method by which management of population growth and land development towards “build-out” can occur in a workable and reasonably equitable manner. Historically, that process has resulted in a growth rate in the neighborhood of three percent a year. Our actual growth rate has never reached that rate.

What is your top priority for Carson City in 2017?

Ensuring the public safety is a core function of government. We are blessed in Carson City to have some of the best if not the best public safety professionals in the country serving us. That includes not only our police and fire personnel but those groups and individuals that support them at any given time including alternative sentencing. Since 2005 calls for service for the Fire Department increased from 7,100 to 9,600. While calls for service from the Sheriff’s office have declined somewhat from 25,000 to 17,000 that decline has been the result of increased crime fighting efforts. On the other side of the coin, the number of people that are subject to alternative sentencing has increased. As our population rebounds from the recession, my top priority is to ensure that our public safety professionals are given the tools and people to not only cope with the increased demand for services but to keep our crime rate on the decline and our response times low.

In your opinion are arts, events, and cultural happenings important to Carson City economy?

The arts, cultural happenings and events such as Epic Rides, rodeos and fairs provide many benefits to our community. They play an important role not only in our local economy and economic development but in creating a strong sense of place and belonging as well as improving our quality of life.

In terms of our economy, our Visitors Bureau estimates that more than twenty million dollars in economic activity is generated by sports tourism alone. It is estimated that the first year of Epic Rides, which recently took top honors as the number one off-road mountain bike race in the nation, brought in over 2000 attendees and generated over one million dollars in economic activity. That event will only grow through the remainder of its five-year commitment to our community. Importantly, activities such as Epic Rides, also promote healthy lifestyles.

In turn, the arts and cultural events support job growth, skilled workforce development and visitor attraction, all of which are tremendously important to our economy. Importantly, those activities also improve our quality of life and provide a civilizing influence. For example, cultural resources have been found to reduce social stress in children. Other studies have shown a link between the reduction in crime rates and the presence of a strong emphasis on arts and culture. In this time of economic diversification with its attendant uncertainty, cultural activities provide a sense of belonging and confidence in the future, both of which are essential elements of a successful community.

How should Carson City ensure there are affordable housing options available for its residents, especially veterans?

Ensuring affordable housing, particularly for our veterans, is an extremely important issue. Many cities have housing authorities. Carson City does not. As such, the development of different types of housing units in our community is largely market-driven. That said, our community has recently made inroads in this area and additional opportunities are under consideration.

For example, Richards Crossing is a development scheduled to open next year. It is a development put together by the Garth Richards family, FISH and the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) and associated entities. Upon completion Richards Crossing will offer 39 living units for veterans in need. This is a wonderful example of our community members coming together to develop private solutions. Carson City is a veteran friendly community and nothing demonstrates that in the development world more than Richards Crossing.

Additionally, the NRHA, in cooperation with Carson City, is spearheading an affordable housing development in the area of Brown Street. If this project goes forward it will provide needed housing resources in a comfortable setting that includes a neighborhood park.

On the private side, there are market-driven developments approved in our community that are designed to be affordable by today’s younger generation and our veteran community. One such approved development is Mills Landing which will add 105 single family residential units. Further, permits have recently been issued for 64 apartment units and four four-plex units.

On the public side, our Health and Human Services Department will be joining a northern Nevada affordable housing task force.

Is Carson City’s workforce prepared for the kind of businesses the city is hopeful to attract? What should be done? (400 words)

One of the most common concerns of our business community as well as businesses seeking to locate in our community is the lack of a workforce trained not only in 21st century emerging technologies, but capable of sustaining our foundational industries such as tourism. Carson City is not the only community that suffers from that shortage. As our economy diversifies with relative alacrity, the availability of trained workers affects all of northern Nevada. Indeed, education and workforce development is a top priority of Nevada’s Strategic Planning Framework 2016-2020 issued by Governor Sandoval.

Successful workforce development depends on many factors, the most critical of which is education and particularly career technical education. To that end the Board of Supervisors regularly meets with the School Board of Trustees to ensure that our strategic development and educational goals are not only compatible and consistent with each other but in fact implemented. Representatives of Western Nevada College (WNC), the Northern Nevada Development Authority, our library and members of our business community routinely attend those meetings. Such joint meetings are unique to Carson City.

Also unique to Carson City, our library is one of the first in the nation to offer a manufacturing technician certificate (MT1) program and WNC is one of the first colleges to implement the Jump Start program. Through the Jump Start program high school juniors and seniors can gain college credit while completing high school.

WNC has also implemented an Institutional Advisory Council to work with our community and anticipate future regional educational trends and needs.

In the development of a trained workforce and, indeed, our community as a whole, we must keep in mind the importance of entrepreneurship. In answering the query of what a city will look like in 2050, the CEO of the Gallup organization, Jim Clifton, responded: “So as we look at the horizon over the next 50 years, the playbook has to change. City leaders must place entrepreneurship at the heart of their economic and policy agenda. The old ways just won’t work.” In our community, Adams Hub plays an integral role in the development of entrepreneurism starting in our school system. The creation of a culture of entrepreneurism in our community will not only positively impact our workforce issues but prepare our community for the future.

We have more to do but we are on the right road and making progress.