Candidate forum: Supervisor candidates address taxes, job growth, library project
and Sandi Hoover
The one thing that all candidates for the two open board of supervisors seats agreed on at Monday night’s forum is that public safety should be Carson City’s top concern.
The candidate’s forum, sponsored by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, drew a crowd of nearly 100 people to the Carson Nugget. They were there to hear six contenders for the Ward 1 seat being vacated by Robin Williamson and three for the Ward 3 seat, which will be left by termed-out Pete Livermore. Livermore and Williamson are running against each other, and two others, for the Assembly District 40 seat being left vacant by the retirement of Bonnie Parnell.
Each candidate had his or her own take on the three questions provided by the chamber. Highlighted are a few of the answers they provided. To watch the full three-hour forum, go to Access Carson City at http://www.actv.org/. It will be replayed on Charter Cable channels 210 and 226. until June 7.
Like most cities in Nevada and many across the country, Carson City continues on the downward path as it relates to sales tax revenues, and is facing forced cuts in city services and personnel. Please detail your ideas to address the current fiscal imbalance including the recommendation of continued cuts to public safety should the economy not improve.
Karen Abowd: “We can be economically proactive in public safety issues.” Abowd also said that increasing graduation rates and achievement in the classroom has an effect by bringing higher paying jobs which help decrease crime.
Rob Joiner: Joiner said there are two options – increasing sales tax or property taxes. He said in Sparks, residents there voted to increase their sales tax by an eighth of a cent. Then the Legislature voted it down. “That needs to change.” As for the sheriff’s office cuts, they should cut the administrative costs to keep officers on the streets.
Sean Lehmann: Lehmann felt volunteerism could help in the sheriff’s office and fire department. “There would need to be a volunteer coordinator.” He said there should be a foundation to donate money to parks and recreation.
Paul Saucedo: Saucedo suggested the city manager take a look at cutting salaries across the board. He said other municipalities have done this, Carson City should too. “How do we turn this around? I really think the city has to be proactive.” Firings should be avoided, said Saucedo. “You have an investment in people.”
Norm Scoggin: “We need to feel secure when we walk downtown.” Scoggin said Carson City needs jobs and a healthy business community. He believes the most valuable property the city owns is the airport. The property tax structure is discriminatory to the business community, he said.
Gary Schulz: He said the city should examine priorities and look at salary cuts. “We need to aggressively promote ourselves.” Schulz said we should try to attract businesses from California and promote our western heritage.
John McKenna: McKenna said supervisors did the right thing by making across-the-board cuts. He felt public safety should not be cut. “I think we should freeze the number of jobs Carson City has … until we replenish our reserves.” Eventually, he said, if the city has the revenue, they can hire those employees back.
Mark Sattler: Sattler felt there needs to be better communication between the private and the public sector. “I think we need to examine all services that could be provided by the private sector. I don’t think (cuts) should be across the board” because police and fire should be protected, he said.
Day Williams: “We need to fill the 20 percent commercial vacancies in the town.” Williams said the city needs to distinguish between its wants and needs and should build on its reputation as business-friendly.
What should Carson City be doing to attract business, industry and jobs to this area? Who should be doing this and at what taxpayer expense?
Karen Abowd: Abowd said quality of life is attractive, but it’s not enough and communication is essential. “This is why the knowledge center and business incubator are an important opportunity. Business does drive business.”
Rob Joiner: Joiner noted there are three business development agencies in town – NNDA, Nevada Business Connections and the city’s Office of Business Development. He suggested they combine forces. Carson City needs to take care of the businesses it has to help keep them profitable, he said.
Sean Lehmann: Lehmann said Carson City needs to market itself aggressively and it needs a brand. “A simple brand like ‘Tahoe at Half Price’ could serve us well … they know about Tahoe, they don’t know about us.”
Paul Saucedo: “You have to spend money to make money,” said Saucedo, explaining that means going out and trying to attract businesses to this area by using public funds. Carson City has a lot to offer including a good tax structure and a community college, he said.
Norm Scoggin: “We need to sell ourselves. We have a fantastic community here … we have to make sure Carson City is not a secret.” Scoggin feels the city should work with private business and other organizations such as the Northern Nevada Development Authority to sell the community.
Gary Schulz: Schulz said Carson City has a skilled and educated work force. Quality of life is what businesses are after. Tax increases won’t help, he said.
John McKenna: “I’m always very careful about spending other people’s money.” McKenna said incentives should be up to the people, not the government alone. Carson City should cut the size and cost of government, he said.
Mark Sattler: Said he would like to see more regional cooperation. He suggested we separate ourselves by being the most friendly, and make it simple for businesses. Incentives could provide better prices on buildings to fill vacant store fronts, he said.
Day Williams: “Private enterprise almost does everything better than government.” Of a marketing push, he said, “Let private enterprise do it.” The city should also cut down on regulation, said Williams.
There has been much talk about the development of a Knowledge Center, public garage, class A office space, a public park and more for which the city has been asked to invest up to $42 million. What is your philosophy on this issue including the necessity – or not – of bringing this before the voters of Carson City?
Karen Abowd: Voters are represented by their elected officials, said Abowd. “This is a unique opportunity. We would be foolish not to accept this offer.” She said the NNDA is noticing an increased interest in the area because of the proposed project. It would be a civic investment, she said.
Rob Joiner: “I have faith in redevelopment but I see a lot of blind faith in this project.” Joiner said he’s not sure the city needs a knowledge center in downtown Carson City. There are still too many questions about the cost. He said, noting the Downtown Business Association is divided on the issue.
Sean Lehmann: Lehmann felt it is too early to be for or against the project. On the pro side, he said, it will add jobs, and the location is at the center of town. He said the Nugget is not giving the land to the city nor has a developer been identified. Carson City residents should vote on the issue, said Lehmann.
Paul Saucedo: Said he hasn’t seen a business plan and he doesn’t want to see any more taxes unless he knows the outcome will be positive. “Generalized statements are all we’re getting.” He felt “absolutely” the question should be put to a vote.
Norm Scoggin: Feels it is discriminatory to develop one area of town and thinks it’s an ill-conceived plan. He said new a library would be good for the city but not necessarily on Nugget property. “For us to take on an added burden just doesn’t make sense.”
Gary Schulz: Of the knowledge center, Schulz said, “I don’t believe it’s an economic engine for growth.” He said it’s irresponsible to support the project until more information is available. Any city support of the project should be preceded by a ballot issue, he said.
John McKenna: “There is a concept out there, but there’s no reality to it.” It should have financing goals, he said, it should pay for itself, and the question should go before the voters.
Mark Sattler: He said he hasn’t seen any business plan yet. His criteria for any project are: Is it needed and wanted? What is the total cost? How will you pay for it? The issue should be brought to the voters.
Day Williams: At this point, he cannot support the project. The terms of the financing of the project should be put on the Internet. “Let’s be transparent.” If the Nugget is going to donate land to the city, then it should do so now to show good faith. Voters should have a say.
Sheriff, Assembly forum Thursday
The second primary election forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Carson Nugget. The forum will feature candidates for sheriff, Ken Furlong, Bob Guimont and Bob White, as well as Republican candidates for Assembly District 38, Tom Grady and Gary Gladwell. Also on the panel will be Republican candidates for Assembly District 40, Amy Clemens, Pete Livermore and Lynda Upton.
Secret Witness turns 40 this year – and it’s helped solve many of Northern Nevada’s most violent crimes
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