Robert L. Crowell
4 East Sunset Way
Phone number and campaign Web site:
Stanford University, A.B. Economics
Hastings College of the Law, J.D. Law
Carson City School Board Trustee: 1997–current
Please write a short biography of yourself (you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement, family, etc.):
I was born in Tonopah, Nevada and raised in Carson City. My wife, Susan, and I have been married for 37 years and have four adult children. I am an attorney, retired Navy captain and Vietnam veteran. I have served as president/chairman of the following: Carson Chamber of Commerce; Carson School Board; Carson Rotary Club; Colorado River Commission of Nevada; and the State Bar of Nevada. Currently I am a member of the Northern Nevada Development Authority Board, School Board and the Capital City Circles Initiative. I have also participated on the Citizens Committee on Public Safety and Partnership Carson City.
Describe your vision for the Carson City of the future:
My vision for Carson City is a community that provides an attractive and active living environment for our younger generations and their families while providing a place to comfortably age. To achieve this I will help lead Carson City in a manner that renews the pride in our community, promotes civic involvement, and reaffirms our sense of belonging in a safe community allowing us to tap the energy and enthusiasm of all our residents. We must think strategically, and long term, but we must not forget that quality takes time and we should celebrate our accomplishments as they occur.
What are the three most important elements to the quality of life in Carson City?
An overall strong sense of community is essential to our quality of life. The building blocks of a strong sense of community are, in no order of priority:
o Public Safety
o Cultural Arts
List the three most important issues Carson City will face in the next few years:
o Maintaining Quality of Life
Carson is a wonderful place to live. Our economically troubled times will present the Mayor and the Board with tough choices in order to maintain our current quality of life without increasing the financial burden on our residents and businesses.
We must be vigilant and prudent in our planning and expenditures to ensure accountability to our taxpayers.
o Finish Bypass
Carson has more than lived up to its end of the bargain on this project. I will begin immediately to work with our State leaders to craft viable solutions for its completion.
Recently, the Chamber of Commerce executive director printed an assessment of the aesthetics of Carson City’s business districts, detailing many buildings and sites in disrepair. What kind of “first impression” do you believe Carson City makes on visitors? Would you support tougher standards on building owners, even if they require those business owners to be fined or closed if they do not comply?
I think we can do better at highlighting the many attractions and amenities Carson offers. Carson has so much history to offer as the state Capital and as a family friendly community, not to mention our canyons and river. We can make the gateways into our community more inviting and attractive. As a community we should actively support Downtown Answers which is an active consortium of concerned citizens and business owners focusing on the development of our downtown commercial areas.
Sales tax revenues have been declining steadily in the city due to the slow economy. If this trend continues, what can the city do to compensate? For example, would you consider layoffs as part of the solution?
We should keep in mind that our local government is a reflection of the community and the businesses in our community. Layoffs should only be considered as a last resort and then according to established procedures. There are various employment options that should be cooperatively explored with our City personnel as part of a top to bottom review of City government to make sure we’re employing our personnel and resources in the most efficient manner. I would also encourage greater cooperation on common services between the School District and the City to gain savings through economies of scale.
How would you characterize the level of crime in Carson City, including gang-related crime? Do you believe the city needs more law enforcement officers?
Although crime rates in our community have decreased in the last four years compared to the rest of Nevada, gang activity has dramatically increased. Carson’s law enforcement per capita staffing is lower than our surrounding counties. Of all public services, first responders are the most important for the safety and welfare of all our residents. I will listen to our law enforcement professionals, evaluate their needs and use the top to bottom government review mentioned above to help make those decisions.
How will you vote on the public safety ballot question that asks voters if they want to increase their property taxes to add more firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers? Why?
These services are the most fundamental and critical of all local government responsibilities. When we don’t provide adequate protection for our citizens we have failed in our most basic public service. Through my participation on the Citizens ad hoc Committee on Public Safety I was provided with an extensive and critical analysis of all of our public safety functions and came to the conclusion that our public safety professionals are correct in their assessment of our community’s needs. I personally will be voting in favor but will abide by the final outcome of the vote of the people. If passed, I will ensure that the funds are spent as promised in the initiative.
How will you vote on the V&T tax ballot question, which proposes using sales tax to provide $10 million for the railroad in return for a share of the profits. Why?
As with the public safety question, it is important to recognize that this is a community decision and not a decision of the Board or any individual member. As Mayor I will honor and abide by that community decision. Carson City has already spent $21M on the V &T. I personally will be voting for this measure but I am mindful of the burden it imposes. Many questions must be addressed regarding the long term viability of this project before funds are expended if approved and if turned down, the next Mayor must deal with the unfinished infrastructure requirements.
Is there enough for young people to do in Carson City? Could the city do better? If so, how?
Many have told me that while Carson City is a great place to live, we seem to be missing out on attracting the younger generation to our community. Some thoughts on how we might move forward on this front:
o Continue to provide community support for our educational system and enhance vocational education offerings for all students at the K-12 and college level.
o Promote, support and make use of our college and include WNC in our city planning.
o Maintain our focus on quality of life improvements such as open space, parks, trails, recreation facilities and the like.
o Continue to support youth services organizations in our community.
Carson City has a detailed plan to make the downtown more inviting to walking traffic, which includes a reduction in lanes. Do you support the overall plan? What are your ideas for improving downtown?
The extension of the freeway to Fairview will be an important milestone and offer opportunities and options that have not been available to us for our downtown. But we need to finish the bypass, get the big trucks off Carson Street and see how it works. Traffic and economic models don’t always predict driver road behavior. Let’s move cautiously before we make a costly decision to reduce lanes. We can and should continue to make downtown Carson City more pedestrian friendly in a manner that both compliments existing businesses and attracts new compatible businesses.
The city has recently attracted retailers by offering monetary incentives. Do you support this policy? If not, what strategy do you believe the city should use to attract businesses to locate here rather than in nearby communities?
I would prefer we offer the kind of business climate that makes Carson an attractive place to set up shop without specific business subsidies and use redevelopment funds on common infrastructure improvements that benefit all. However, there may be occasions when incentives may be necessary and when that assistance is offered, it should be done pursuant to approved and widely understood criteria. We should also endorse and promote regional thinking and cooperation.
Carson City has been in competition with Douglas County for retail businesses and the sales tax dollars they bring. Is this competition healthy? Are you in favor of exploring an arrangement that would combine business recruitment efforts and share sales tax revenue?
As mentioned in the prior answer, it is important to think regionally. While lines on the map separate us, our communities are in fact highly interrelated. When viewed in that light, competition between counties for development opportunities only raises the cost to all taxpayers. I am in favor of any effort that would encourage joint enterprise zones for large commercial centers and work to eliminate that type of governmental competition which should reduce the overall cost of providing services in our region.
Do you believe Carson City’s library is adequate? Would you support a tax to expand and improve the library? Why?
The library is one of the best public services our community has to offer for all – young, old and everyone in between. It plays an essential part in our quality of life. We get a big bang for our buck at the library and it needs to be supported by the private sector, volunteers and government. In these difficult economic times, we should explore any number of civic investment approaches to that expansion before considering increasing the financial burden on our residents-not the least of which are public/private partnerships which are how communities all across our country are making the right things easier.
Do you believe the city’s bus system is adequate? Should it be expanded?
Alternative transportation modes are an important part of Smart Growth planning and play an important role in the creation of a pedestrian friendly community as well as accommodating that segment of our community that does not have ready access to private vehicular transportation. JAC has been steadily increasing its ridership and should be supported for expansion as demand for the service improves. As with all City services, we need to balance the need for expansion with the level of financial resources available to the City while keeping an eye on maximizing the resources available to us as a Metropolitan Planning Area.
Do you believe Carson City has an adequate number of parks and similar facilities? Why?
No and I think parks and open spaces are absolutely key to maintaining quality of life for all ages. We shouldn’t try to emulate the state parks but we can provide urban and surrounding foothill area experiences that are accessible to our residents, young and old. Generally, I think Carson has done an excellent job at planning for open spaces and parks expansion. But we must be mindful that each new facility brings with it a budget impact and increased costs.
What role should the city play, monetarily and otherwise, in supporting private efforts in the areas of social services and arts? (examples include Partnership Carson City, CASA, etc.)
Partnership Carson City, CASA, BAC and the Children’s Museum, to name a few, have been highly successful endeavors that have improved the quality of life in our community. The City should continue to support private efforts of that type. During lean times, this support can take the form of non-monetary assistance such as has been done with the BAC and Children’s Museum (favorable lease terms and loan guarantee assistance).
What else would you like to say to voters about your qualifications and ideas?
These are difficult economic times that call for creative cost effective solutions to providing public services without increasing the burden on our residents. With my years on the School Board, I believe I have a record of handling taxpayer funds in a prudent, accountable and efficient manner, particularly in trying financial circumstances. If elected as your Mayor, I will put that record and those skills to work at City Hall.