New format heats up Douglas forum
Nevada Appeal News Service
MINDEN – A new format turned up the heat at the Douglas County Commission and Assembly District 39 candidates forum on Wednesday.
Candidates prepared questions ahead of time for their opponents which were read during the face-off.
About 100 people stayed through debate on two of Douglas County’s three tax questions to hear the six candidates answer questions posed by their opponents.
Proponents of the Douglas County Historical Society’s Question 3 said they were not invited to debate their request for a property tax increase to help fund the county’s museums. They stood outside the CVIC Hall in Minden and handed out literature to those attending.
Commission District 4 candidate Greta Hambsch said she supported the 280-home growth cap approved by voters in the Sustainable Growth Initiative barring immediate work to develop a growth control ordinance by the commission.
“We would have 1,200 fewer units if the cap was implemented,” she said. “I stand behind the will of the voters.”
She said the tax requests for more deputies and a new senior center were an indication that something was wrong with how the county has worked in the past.
“I don’t think we have time to dally,” she said. “We have no traffic study, no water study. I’m still wondering when we are going to move ahead and set a growth limit.”
Nancy McDermid, who asked if Hambsch supported the growth cap in the initiative, pointed out that the county was barred from implementing it by a court order.
“I believe the master plan is the guide to the future,” McDermid said.
She said she felt the county needs the experience of a planning commissioner.
Hambsch asked McDermid what she had done to curb growth in her time on the planning commission.
“I’ve endeavored to follow the master plan,” she answered. “I’ve endeavored to put growth where it is appropriate. If people do have the right to develop, then we as a planning commission must approve it.”
McDermid said she voted against Clear Creek twice, against Jobs Peak and Genoa Lakes expansions and opposed the alignment of Muller Lane Parkway. She said a growth control must be based on accurate data to be defensible.
Commissioner Dave Brady asked Lloyd Higuera where he received his campaign donations and by whom he’d been endorsed.
In response, Higuera said he had the support of his family and that he had a broad base of financial support.
Brady said Higuera had been endorsed by the Realtors political action committee and had taken money from the Park Family Trust.
“My finances have been legally spent and legally raised,” Higuera said. “The Realtors represent a broad spectrum of people in the community. There are some who voted for SGI and others who oppose it.
Park Land & Cattle Co. is one of the premier ranching families in Carson Valley. It costs a lot of money to run a campaign and when offered the donations, I accepted them. But on the commission, I’m my own man and I can’t be purchased for $1,000.”
Higuera questioned whether Brady could function as a commissioner after sparking a confrontation at a county meeting.
“I’m not shy about raising the level of public debate,” he said. “There is not a lot of dialogue on this board.”
After the debate, Brady explained that he and commissioner Kelly Kite had a disagreement over what Brady described as a perceived slight over backroom deals.
“The commissioners don’t seem to be congealing as a unit,” Higuera said. “If I were on the board of commissioners, I would be a team player.”
Republican Assembly 39 candidate James Settelmeyer asked JoEtta Brown why she wouldn’t support school vouchers and said her proposals would require increased taxes.
In her rebuttal, Brown, a Democrat, said there was no need for school vouchers, but claimed that half of the high school students in Nevada dropped out because they weren’t challenged.
According to the Nevada Department of Education, the drop-out rate for the entire state is 5.7 percent, which is mostly driven by Clark County’s dropout rate of 7.1 percent. Douglas County’s drop-out rate is 1.9 percent. Brown said the 50 percent figure came from teachers.
Settelmeyer said after the forum that his pledge not to raise taxes does not extend to voter-approved initiatives.
However, he said that whether he supported the Douglas County Question 1 at the Legislature would depend on what the legislation actually said.
“If the voters approve taxing themselves 1Ú2 percent, then I will look at the specific legislation that comes before me,” he said.