Las Vegas Sun

August 27, 2014

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Candidates in upcoming municipal election face voters at forum

One thing was clear to Bill Corriell after the River Mountain Homeowners Association candidates forum Wednesday night: He's got a tough choice to make.

"There are five qualified candidates for mayor," said the Henderson resident. "Each could equally serve. They were all well-spoken and understood the concerns of the neighborhood."

The HOA invited the five Henderson mayoral candidates, five candidates for City Council's Ward III and two for Municipal Court judge to present their views to residents and meet with them face-to-face afterward.

About 100 residents and supporters crowded into the banquet room at Railroad Pass for the 90-minute forum.

Each of the candidates introduced themselves and summarized the issues of most concern to them before responding to a set of questions collected from the audience.

The field is more crowded than in recent municipal elections because of a lack of incumbents. Mayor Jim Gibson and Ward III City Councilman Jack Clark were not eligible to run because of term limits.

Running for mayor are City Councilmen Andy Hafen and Steve Kirk, former City Councilwoman Amanda Cyphers, former Police Chief Michael Mayberry and attorney Richard Sipan.

They were asked about the $220,000 lobbying contract the city signed with former Police Chief and Speaker of the Assembly Richard Perkins, the local economy and whether development should be halted given the number of vacant businesses.

Karen Wade said she came into the forum undecided on the mayoral candidates but came away with a favorite.

She liked Cyphers' idea of a Henderson Helping Henderson volunteer network, though, she said, "she's not my choice."

Her husband, Shirl, said he had narrowed his choices to two. "We do need to have good leaders and need to come to these things so we know who they are," he said.

The City Council candidates are businesswoman Kathleen Boutin, who founded the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth; Bruce Cutler, a retired insurance salesman and member of the Whitney Ranch Homeowners Association Board of Directors; Cathy Rosenfield, the volunteer chairwoman of the Henderson Parks and Recreation Board; Jason Frayer, a telecommunications consultant and adjunct professor at the College of Southern Nevada; Brandon Casutt, a sign company owner; and Jim Dunn, a real estate company owner.

Frayer, Casutt and Dunn did not attend.

After their introductory remarks, they were asked about how they would prevent illegal ATV use of trails, especially in the rural River Mountain area.

Only Rosenfield volunteered an answer. She noted that some residents do not want ATV use in the city and some support it, but that Henderson police will enforce the vehicles' restrictions. She appealed to the residents to call police when they see infractions.

River Mountain HOA President Diane Booker responded to Rosenfield's answer, noting that no motorized vehicles were allowed in their area, because it is considered a critical environment for bighorn sheep and desert tortoises.

"We need help," she said.

The two candidates for Municipal Court judge also made their cases for the job.

Incumbent Municipal Judge Douglas Hedger pointed to the programs he has started during his six-year term – programs for habitual offenders and outreach to elementary school students – as well as the experience on the bench his first term has given him.

Matthew Zobrist, a Henderson police officer, said he wants to put his newly minted law degree to work in the municipal court as a judge. He graduated from the Boyd School of Law at UNLV in 2006 and passed the state bar exam in 2007.

He said as a police officer, he has been with offenders, victims and witnesses. "I know how crimes affect people personally," he said. Intervention is needed at the level of misdemeanors, the least serious crimes, so that offenders do not move to more serious crimes, he said.

Harriett Reynolds said the forum helped her choose her favorite for municipal judge, but "other than that, I will probably be undecided to the end."

Booker said she was pleased with the turnout. Last fall, a similar forum for the legislative and County Commission races drew more candidates than voters, she said.

"There is a new enthusiasm," she said. "I just want Henderson to have a good turnout."

Jean Reid Norman can be reached at 990-2658 or [email protected].

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