Assembly, assessor candidates speak to Republican women |

Assembly, assessor candidates speak to Republican women

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City Assembly District 40 candidate Ron Knecht made a dangerous confession to members of the city’s Republican Women’s Club on Tuesday.

He was once a Democrat.

Amid gasps of mock horror, Knecht, flanked on either side by Tom Keeton and Bill Reeves, his challengers for the Republican nomination, confessed he had “sinned greatly” but had learned much since his youth. Now, he wants to be Carson’s next assemblyman — a Republican with a focus on education.

“I will work hard and diligently to earn your vote,” Knecht said. “You’ll be glad you elected me.”

Knecht, an economist with the Public Utilities Commission, Keeton and Reeves are vying for an assembly seat being vacated by Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, who after two terms decided not to run again.

They joined Dave Dawley and Taunya Milligan, candidates for Carson City assessor, in a candidate’s forum at the club’s monthly luncheon. Given two minutes to introduce themselves, each candidate expressed their love of Carson City and willingness to serve its people.

Keeton, a former advertising manager for the Lockheed Corp., noted he was soundly defeated in the 2000 mayor race, but since then, “I’ve been learning more and more and more.” He serves on two city committees and said he’s “come to know Carson’s political problems as well as anyone” and is ready to fight in the Legislature for sensible rules for Carson and for Nevada.

“I love Carson City more than anyone in this room,” he said. “I may have only moved here five years ago, but here is where we chose to be.”

Reeves, a retired local businessman and 1988 mayoral candidate, pointed out the state is facing great changes and the Legislature needs someone with his type of business experience.

“My philosophy is simple: common sense and hard work for those goals which are achievable,” he said.

All three candidates noted Nevada is facing tough financial times, and all were opposed to any new taxes or increased taxes to help the problem. All said the state should focus on trimming costs and eliminating wasteful spending before the Legislature asks Nevada taxpayers to pony up extra taxes.

“But I’m a realist. I want to be prepared,” Reeves said. “In the event the state can’t pay (for essential services), then and only then will I consider taxes.”

All three agreed, also, that working with the Southern Nevada legislators, who make up the majority of the Legislature, is crucial to protecting Carson’s interests. Reeves brought up the idea of a hospitality committee, and Knecht said he’s already invited a Southern legislator to stay at his home through the session to show them “Carson City hospitality.”

The three candidates face a Sept. 3 primary, and the victor will face Democrat challenger Stacie Wilkie in the November general election.

Milligan, a real estate broker/agent, and Dawley, chief deputy assessor, spoke to the group about what the assessor does — give value to various forms of property.

Both agreed they were opposed to measures proposed for the 2003 Legislature that would change the way some property is appraised. However, they differ on whether the assessor should be more of an appraiser or more of a manager. Dawley said the office works perfectly now and he would continue outgoing assessor Kit Weaver’s practice of being an appraiser — a move Dawley said saves the city money from hiring another appraiser. Milligan said she sees the assessors as a “strong managerial position.”

“If the appraiser is in the field, who is in the office watching the hens?” she said.

“You need an assessor in the field,” Dawley countered. “There is just too much work out there.”

Dawley argues his nine years at the office give him the experience to run the office. Milligan said combining her background in real estate and experience from managing a business make her the ideal candidate for the job.