Pointed questions, strong words at VC candidates forum
Appeal Staff Writer
It was the audience more than the candidates that was in a confrontational mood during a Storey County candidates forum at the Virginia City Senior Center Thursday night.
Members of the audience asked pointed questions of candidates seeking the offices of sheriff and district attorney, resulting in several members confronting each other during one part of the event. About 50 people showed up for the forum.
Stephen Bloyd, candidate for sheriff, was asked what his background was, if he had any previous law enforcement experience, and why he thought he would make a good sheriff.
“I believe that I would be a better sheriff because I have more common sense. This confrontational approach we have had in the past year doesn’t make any sense in a small town,” Bloyd said.
Not satisfied with the answer, a member of the audience repeated the question, asking Bloyd if he’d ever worn a badge or been a police officer. Before Bloyd could answer, another member of the audience asked if previous Sheriff Pat Whitten was qualified. The moderator quickly calmed the parties.
Bloyd responded that he was not POST certified, but was willing to take the training. He added that training was only a small part of the necessary qualifications to be a good sheriff.
Bloyd also defended his stance on decriminalizing marijuana usage for adults.
“The resources we spend chasing adult users could be better spent. I strongly discourage all drug use in kids, but I think adults can make up their own minds,” Bloyd said.
While candidates for several county offices were on hand, the majority of questions were directed toward the two law enforcement races. The most prevalent topic related to methamphetamine.
“It’s an epidemic,” incumbent Jim Miller said. “We are going to proceed. We are going to protect our kids; we are going to protect our citizens. We are going to continue to fight this drug.”
Miller pointed out that the department made 90 drug arrests in 2005, and would continue to work toward preventing the drug problem from spreading.
Bloyd agreed that drugs were becoming a serious problem, but said the ultimate goal should be to get users into treatment programs and continue to educate children about drug abuse.
“We need to be very careful that what we are telling them is the truth and not what sounds good,” Bloyd said.
The third candidate for sheriff, Bob DelCarlo, was not present at the meeting.
Candidates for the district attorney’s office were asked when they felt treatment was warranted, as opposed to jail time, for drug offenders.
All candidates agreed that treatment options should be offered to first-time drug offenders, while seeking stronger penalties against dealers.
“Drug court is a very effective option. We have to give them a chance to fix their lives, but chronic users need to be taken off the street,” Republican challenger Michael Bongard said.
Republican challenger Ann Langer said, “For people with a drug-dealing past, we need to do something to get this person off the streets and segregate them from the users.
“You have to get rid of the dealers, got to figure out who they are and send them to prison.”
Democratic incumbent Harold Swafford said that he has seen the way drug crimes are treated shift from prison terms to treatment options for users,. But he agrees that tougher penalties must remain in place for dealers.
For the candidates seeking the District 1 commissioner seat, the main concern was growth. While all candidates said that growth is inevitable, they differed on how to control the amount.
“I am totally opposed to growth in Storey County. I want it to stay at 4,000 people. But I’m not going to tell you any fairy tales that we can stop it; we can’t. But we can slow it down,” said Republican challenger Bill Sjovangen.
Democratic challenger Nick Nicosia said, “Growth is going to happen. But the thing we have to remember is that the commissioners are not kings or dictators, they are mitigators.
“They should communicate with you and then go back and mitigate with the other commissioners to come up with a compromise.”
Nicosia also announced he is temporarily resigning his position as managing editor of the Comstock Chronicle until after the election to prevent a conflict of interest.
Republican challenger Eric Pierson said, “We have a master plan, and we can prevent the uncontrolled growth by not allowing the zoning changes these large developers need.”
Republican incumbent John Flanagan was not present at the meeting.
The forum also included statements by candidates for clerk-treasurer, justice of the peace and recorder-auditor as well as questions for U.S. Congress candidates Dean Heller and Sharron Angle.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.