Monday, March 28, 2011 | 1:50 a.m.
2011 MUNICIPAL PRIMARY
Boulder City's municipal primary election is April 5. The Sun interviewed all eight candidates seeking office -- two are running for mayor against incumbent Roger Tobler, who is seeking reelection, and five are running to fill two city council seats -- and asked them what they would bring to City Hall. You can find their answers, condensed and edited for clarity, in the links below.
Boulder City, like most cities, has some financial issues to address: $96 million in debt and decimated traditional revenues among them. What are some of your own solutions to the city’s financial problems? Can you name some specific areas where the city should save money?
First of all, we need to look at all the jobs we currently have, what people do and how much are they getting paid. We need a comprehensive study. If we look at that, I think we will see if some of the salaries are too high.
The top 15 positions in our city make $1.6 million without benefits. I believe upper management should voluntarily take a 10 to 15 percent pay cut. We have to have people contribute something toward their health insurance, and we need to cut car allowances.
We need to institute technologically efficient ways of doing things. We don’t even have a way for people to apply for pet licenses online. Our current account has $600 for 125 pets -- are you telling me there are only 125 pets in Boulder City? We can’t pay bills online either.
We also need a comprehensive study of all our energy leases, so we know that we’re billing everybody. How do we know that we’re getting all of our lease revenues? I can’t tell you.
How would you encourage economic growth and stability in Boulder City?
I believe that our business licensing process and building codes are too complicated. I would look at a way to streamline all those license and code procedures, so we can make it easier for people to open a business in Boulder City. If you want a state business license, you go online, put in your information, pay the fee and you’re done. We can’t do that at the city. We need to follow that lead.
We also need to think of ways to market the city. I’ve been pushing for a Golf Boulder City campaign for several years now. We need to get downtown Las Vegas hotels to present our golf courses as a choice for their visitors. We need a plan. There’s always an audience out there willing to spend money and shop at our stores. But we have to find them.
According to city records, the city has spent more than $130,000 in pursuing lawsuits against the petitioners of three ballot questions from November’s election, two of which were passed by the voters, as a means of challenging their legality. That course of action has upset a portion of the city’s populace, as demonstrated by the protest last week. What is your opinion on the decision to sue those petitioners?
Here’s how I see it: Everybody is doing what’s the law allows them to do. The city attorney has a right to say that an ordinance is unconstitutional. The city council can say yay or nay.
Am I happy that we spent the money? No. Do I wish we could have done it another way? Yes. What I would suggest is a group of independent lawyers who volunteer to review the ballot questions before they go on the ballot.
Once things are in the legal arena, you have to let it play out. But I wish we would have never started this process. I would rather we talk out these situations.
Heated debate is part of politics, but it might be argued that Boulder City’s discussions are more hostile than most. The attempted recalls of council members Linda Strickland and Travis Chandler or the controversy over City Manger Vicki Mayes’ car registration could be used as examples. How would you encourage civil discourse in City Hall?
I don’t believe we have an open dialogue. We don’t have enough time to discuss the issues at two city council meetings each month. We need to spend some time on them.
I would suggest workshops outside of council meetings to have those conversations. People of the community could come, and we’d lay it all out there. The more we communicate in an open public forum, we’ll get to an understanding of each other’s concerns. We need to talk.
Do you believe more could be done to fix Boulder City’s traffic problem since the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge in October? What solutions would you propose that haven’t already been pursued?
NDOT has finally decided to add one extra lane coming to and from the dam. Should that have been done? Yes. Why wasn’t it already? I can’t read minds. I don’t know why it wasn’t an issue before.
I have always been a proponent of building an overpass or underpass at Lake Mountain Drive going across to Nevada Way. That way, those drivers don’t have to go to any light or make any turns. Right now, you can’t get from one side of town to the other very easily. I think it’s an idea to pursue a 25 mph road, so you could get from Hemingway Valley to Industrial Road. That would benefit residents.
I want to see a bypass eventually, but I don’t know when they’ll get the other issues related to that in line.
Finally, why are you the right candidate for mayor?
I have a lot of experience around Boulder City at my age. I’m 60. I have those life experiences of dealing with people. I’ve spent the last decade working for the city as a public information officer. That should qualify me. I’ve had a chance to look at all of these things.
I’ve also spent time as a reporter for the Boulder City News, and that allowed me to look at things differently than a city employee. Certainly, I haven’t always agree with the city’s positions, and just because I’ve worked for the city, doesn’t mean I think the city is always on target. Business as usual isn’t acceptable anymore.