Two mayors, but only one job opening
Sitting side by side, Ray Masayko and Marv Teixeira represent the last 16 years of leadership in Carson City.
Masayko has been mayor for eight years; Teixeira was mayor the eight years before that. One of them will be mayor for the next four years.
So it makes for an interesting twist on the typical election questions voters ask themselves, “Are we better off than we were four years ago?”
In Carson City, the issue is “We may be better off than we were eight years ago, but are we better off than we could have been if things had been handled differently?” At least, that’s how Teixeira is shaping the debate.
At the League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday evening, Masayko ticked off accomplishments during his term, such as additions to the Public Safety force, the start of construction on the freeway, addition to the Senior Center, a better storm drainage system, completion of right-of-way acquisition for the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.
He said 2003-04 was a record year for retail sales in the city at $910 million.
“Prosperity is surrounding Carson City … and in Carson City,” he said.
That momentary hesitation in Masayko’s comment is the opening Teixeira is hoping to exploit.
Prosperity is indeed surrounding Carson City, most visibly in the shopping centers just across the county line.
“I wanted to shop for my 8-year-old grandchild, and I had to go to Target in Douglas County,” said Teixeira. “As a city of 58,000 and the capital of Nevada, we can do better.”
He also took a little shot at the freeway – something both mayors take credit for pushing along. “It’s taken them 10 years to go three miles,” Teixeira said, “but we’ll talk about that later.”
So that’s where the mayoral campaign stands with a little over a month to go.
Neither has been nasty to the other so far, at least that I’ve heard. As Teixeira pushes harder, Masayko pushes back.
For example, Teixeira’s solution to the retail exodus is to meet with businesses to find out short- and long-term goals and address their concerns. “I’ll be proactive rather than reactive,” he said, implying you-know-who has been sitting on his duff.
To that, Masayko said: “Be careful of campaign promises.” He said corporations aren’t going to disclose competitive information that isn’t already on the street.
He also said something that I think summarizes the bigger issue. Retail chain stores don’t pay much attention to county lines when they decide where to plop down the next mega-box. “It should be invisible to business where they locate in a 10-mile radius,” Masayko said.
Shoppers don’t much care whether they’re in Douglas County when they stand in line at Wal-Mart. Well, some do because of the flap over sales-tax revenues, but if there were agreements in place to make the services and revenues and so on “invisible,” in Masayko’s word, then it wouldn’t make any difference.
The problem, though, is that Carson City supervisors and Douglas County commissioners haven’t been able to reach any such agreement. The supervisors here are pretty fed up, because they say they’ve gone to the table many times only to be rebuffed by those Douglas scoundrels.
So there’s where the problem lies. With the Bureau of Land Management disposing of all that sagebrush, Douglas County has been preparing for years to sprout shopping malls. Carson City wasn’t going to stop it, but nothing happened to make sure the development was mutually beneficial, either.
Supervisor Richard Staub, who’s already won his re-election bid but took part in Wednesday’s forum anyway, said the BLM sold 144 acres for $2.56 a square foot. Just up the road in Carson City, though, property is being valued at $14 to $22 a square foot. He was alluding to developer John Serpa’s battle with the Nevada Department of Transportation over right of way for the bypass where highways 395 and 50 split.
That brings us to one of the other issues dividing Teixeira and Masayko. Carson City spent $430,000 on a lawsuit against the federal government over the sale of BLM land in Douglas County. Carson City supervisors said the plan didn’t adequately address the problems those shopping centers create for Carson City.
“The BLM didn’t care a lick where those people would live,” Masayko said.
Or as Staub put it, “People working in those stores will live in Carson City. They won’t be able to buy a house in Sunridge or Genoa or Minden.”
But Teixeira pointed out the city spent $2.2 million in lawyers’ fees and damages for several lawsuits. “I don’t care what anybody says, we didn’t need to spend that money,” he said.
So far, the mayoral race is kind of like Carson City’s bypass to nowhere. It’s a work in progress. We know the freeway’s going to be built to Highway 50, just like we know there’s going to be an election on Nov. 2.
We have a good idea where the freeway is going to end up, but it’s still a bit hazy what Carson City will look like when it finally connects. A lot will happen between now and then.
“We’re on the road to greatness,” said Masayko.
“If we can get it going again, we’ll reach our full potential,” said Teixeira.
Two mayors. One job.
Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at email@example.com or 881-1221.