Name: Ken Haskins
Address: Post Office Box 1235; Carson City NV 89702
Phone number and campaign Web site: 544-0395; http://www.KenHaskinsForMayor.com
Education: B.A., Church Growth (Theology & Administration), Pacific Christian College, 1978
M.A., Church Administration, Hope International University, 1988
D.Min., Friends International University, 1991
Political experience: None, except Member of Family Life Advisory Committee for the Carson
City School District.
Please write a short biography of yourself (this answer may be up to 200 words; you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement/volunteer efforts, family, etc.):
Born in 1954 in Danville, IL and reared in Simi Valley, CA, where he was a high school basketball star, Ken married his high school sweetheart, Cathy, in 1972. After he completed college, they moved to Carson City in 1980 so Ken could become Pastor of the First Christian Church. Over the years, he completed graduate studies and has been involved in many community activities. They have two daughters, Monica and Veronica, and three grandchildren, Wyatt, Brooklyn and Madelyn. Ken and Cathy have been happy Carson residents for 28 years. Ken was also a radio personality for 19 years.
Besides serving as a Pastor, his community involvement includes: Board Member Community Pregnancy Center, Past President of Kiwanis Club, Chaplain to the State Legislature and City Board of Supervisors, and serving as a Women’s Divison 1 softball coach. He hosted the “Rockin’ Rev” oldies shows on KPTL radio, has written a book of interviews with the great R&B, rock-and-roll and pop stars he has interviewed, and has promoted concerts in our town. He has a great sense of humor, loves old classic cars and juke boxes. He now wants to do for Carson City things he can accomplish only as Mayor.
Describe your vision for the Carson City of the future:
Carson City is already a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire — which is why Cathy and I love it and are permanent residents. I envision an even better Carson City of the future: an attractive downtown with thriving businesses; safe neighborhoods with well-appointed homes; and clean family-friendly parks, well-maintained streets (including completed arterials and freeways) and other public facilities. Special events and tourist attractions will bring many visitors to CC, benefiting a strong local economy anchored by the state capital and being Nevada’s most diversified economy. And open, transparent, accountable, efficient and responsive local government.
What are the three most important elements to the quality of life in Carson City?
Perhaps the most important element of quality of life anywhere is a sense of security. Carson has some problems, but generally very good public safety, with a low crime rate and safe and secure neighborhoods. Another important quality of life element in our town encompasses the recreational and cultural amenities: parks and a beautiful natural setting, plus a nationally ranked complex of theater, arts, music, etc. Completing the triumvirate, we have a reasonable cost of living due to reasonable taxes and moderate levels of business and residential regulation – a major reason many people have moved here in recent decades.
List the three most important issues Carson City will face in the next few years:
1) Improving public safety, especially combating illegal drugs and gang activity;
2) Economic issues of providing appropriate and quality services, while balancing the
City budget by efficient management and trimming spending, not raising taxes; and
3) Finishing the freeway and major arterials while maintaining well other City facilities.
To accomplish these things, I’ll appoint a citizens committee, like the Grace and SAGE commissions, to improve operating efficiency and quality and cut costs. I’m the only candidate with a firm commitment to oppose new taxes and rein in spending instead. I’ll also make protection of your property rights an absolute priority.
Recently, the Chamber of Commerce executive director printed an assessment of the aesthetics of Carson City’s business districts, detailing many buildings and sites in disrepair. What kind of “first impression” do you believe Carson City makes on visitors? Would you support tougher standards on building owners, even if they require those business owners to be fined or closed if they do not comply?
Carson City makes a good first impression on visitors via overall attractiveness, historical districts, views of the Sierras, arts and cultural events, parks and recreational areas, great climate, pleasant residential neighborhoods and friendly, industrious people. Attention to a few blighted areas and working via redevelopment to improve them would improve visitors’ first impressions. Perhaps our biggest problem is getting people here in the first instance to experience the very good first impression. The building/zoning standards and enforcement mechanisms (fines and court judgments) now in place are sufficient. We should not be increasing costs of doing business during a recession.
Sales tax revenues have been declining steadily in the city due to the slow economy. If this trend continues, what can the city do to compensate? For example, would you consider layoffs as part of the solution?
While nobody wants anyone lose a job, layoffs cannot be ruled out. However, as the State’s response to its current budget problems shows, there are many options well short of layoffs to carry us through the current revenue shortfalls: attrition, not filling vacancies, buyouts, early retirements, and one-shot spending reductions and revenue sources. I am the only candidate who has committed to appointing a citizens committee (similar to the Grace and SAGE commissions) to improve City operating efficiency and cut costs while maintaining service quality. Carson has somewhat anticipated the current softness and managed its costs in anticipation.
How would you characterize the level of crime in Carson City, including gang-related crime? Do you believe the city needs more law enforcement officers?
Crime is relatively low in Carson City, less than 74% of national and western states overall levels, and it has declined slowly in recent years. Law enforcement has done a very good job, and even though we have our share of minor and serious crime, people feel safe. Due to geography, Carson has become a center of illegal drug traffic and the gang problems related to it. While more cops on duty would be helpful, with current economic conditions, now is not the time to add to the already heavy burdens of tax-paying property owners in Carson City.
How will you vote on the public safety ballot question that asks voters if they want to increase their property taxes to add more firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers? Why?
With economic turmoil, high gas prices, people struggling to make mortgage payments and some even to buy food, I cannot support this tax increase – especially with crime low and declining and overall public safety good. As Mayor, I will implement the decision of the people, but I cannot vote for a tax increase, which would further burden Carson City families and businesses. Carson voters have provided $40-million in public-safety capital spending in the last ten years, and they need relief more than law enforcement needs new officers at this time.
How will you vote on the V&T tax ballot question, which proposes using sales tax to provide $10 million for the railroad in return for a share of the profits. Why?
I will vote “no”. Of course, I want the V&T to succeed. Our church made a small donation of land to it, as have other businesses and private organizations, and private funds should be sought to finish it. Another problem is that other counties have equal representation on its governing board, although Carson has contributed about $21-million and they have collectively contributed less than $3-million. Perhaps any profits should be divided between counties proportional to contributions. The V&T is already fully funded to Carson City. Tax dollars can be better used for infrastructure, such as streets and water treatment.
Is there enough for young people to do in Carson City? Could the city do better? If so, how?
One can argue there’s never enough, but Carson offers a lot to young people: theater, Pop Warner football, dance, softball, ballet, basketball, movies, skate parks, music, Boys & Girls Club, extensive park and recreation facilities programs of all kinds, the aquatic center, AYSO, Little League baseball, etc. Perhaps what we most need is more family-friendly businesses (for example, ChuckE.Cheese), entertainment, events and venues. I look forward to the opening of the City and Boys & Girls Club joint recreation center.
Carson City has a detailed plan to make the downtown more inviting to walking traffic, which includes a reduction in lanes. Do you support the overall plan? What are your ideas for improving downtown?
While I support many of its ideas for downtown, I am not in favor of reducing lanes on Carson Street at this time. Carson City is not Sutter Creek. Carson is a capital city of nearly 60,000 residents. Most of them travel to work, lunch and home at the same time as the others. How would a reduction in lanes work at those peak times? I’m open to information to the contrary, but not yet convinced that this is right for Carson City. As Mayor, I would work with downtown redevelopment to attract small businesses and help them flourish.
The city has recently attracted retailers by offering monetary incentives. Do you support this policy? If not, what strategy do you believe the city should use to attract businesses to locate here rather than in nearby communities?
I support the policy if it can be shown in each case to be in Carson City’s best interests. What will be the return on the investment of tax dollars? How will the investment be protected? Redevelopment is a tool we can use, but we need strict policy, guidelines and regulations for the City to follow when it offers incentives to insure fairness to all. Especially in view of Lyon County’s current problems, if Carson continues to make itself business friendly and invite business in via reasonable fees, ordinances, zoning and incentives, it will attract business.
Carson City has been in competition with Douglas County for retail businesses and the sales tax dollars they bring. Is this competition healthy? Are you in favor of exploring an arrangement that would combine business recruitment efforts and share sales tax revenue?
Competition can be healthy, especially if either county brings in new businesses and employers from outside our area, but not if we’re just subsidizing local developers to keep them from going from Carson to Douglas (or Lyon) County. The art is to find the balance between competition and cooperation, keeping in mind that our duty is to look out for the best interests of Carson City residents. A key element of this problem is that state legislation may be needed to help the counties find the balance between competition and cooperation, and I will focus efforts on that aspect too.
Do you believe Carson City’s library is adequate? Would you support a tax to expand and improve the library? Why?
The key word is “adequate.” More and more people do their research and other reading at home on personal computers. Considering that most people will use libraries perhaps less often in the future and that Carson City will not continue to grow beyond a population of 75,000, I believe that present facilities are “adequate.” Because the library is a major City asset, I would expect my citizens committee to find ways to maximize its value to Carsonites at reasonable cost. I will not support a tax increase for this purpose, but will look for other sources of revenue.
Do you believe the city’s bus system is adequate? Should it be expanded?
JAC has already increased ridership from its very shaky start, an increase due in part to soaring gas prices and especially to reconfiguring its routes to get people from where they are to where they want to go. Labeling the system as “adequate” or not is beside the point, because the funding comes from NDOT and fares. If ridership continues to increase to reach target levels and beyond, we will not only get more fare revenues, but we may also be successful getting more funds from the state (admittedly problematic now). In that case, the City can consider expansion.
Do you believe Carson City has an adequate number of parks and similar facilities? Why?
Carson City has some great parks, but taken as a group and compared to our overall need, they are only adequate. I want to see more parks and athletic facilities, especially when certain programs, such as softball, have proven to be a boon to local businesses and have increased City revenues. However, I would not want to raise taxes to make it happen, so we need to wait for the return of economic prosperity and then invest in such capital assets as parks, instead of using increased revenues at that time to fund inflation in operating costs.
What role should the city play, monetarily and otherwise, in supporting private efforts in the areas of social services and arts? (examples include Partnership Carson, City, CASA, etc.)
I have first-hand experience as a promoter bringing cultural events to Carson and extensive experience providing social services not publicly subsidized. I hope Carson can continue to provide the levels of direct support it already does to worthy volunteer services such as CASA and Partnership, because their volunteer hours leverage City dollars many-fold. Carson already has a high arts and culture level, and some of those activities can generate profits for social services. A key part of City responsibility is to help businesses and residents support these activities directly, and I will personally continue an active role in that regard.
What else would you like to say to voters about your qualifications and ideas?
Some folks think that one must choose between being a tightwad and caring for people. Not true! Not being a politician, I’ve dedicated my 28 years here to helping real people with real needs in many private and volunteer capacities in community shelters, schools, hospitals and other venues. As Mayor, I’ll still do those things and encourage others to do them, too, but I’ll also aggressively protect your pocketbook and property rights. I’ll stay focused on the basics of City government: public safety, efficient management, finishing the freeway and major arterials, a better business climate and responsible redevelopment management.