Monday, March 28, 2011 | 1:51 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?
We need to look at some of the top salaries for department heads because I think they tend to be out of whack and inconsistent with the city’s historical precedents. We should provide some background on why people are being paid what they are. We also need to look at the size of our community and see how they compare with the rest of the valley’s top salaries. The five department heads, the city manager, the city attorney and the city clerk make $1.8 million put together. That’s a lot of money for eight people.
We have to ensure we’re getting everything from our leases, but sometimes, they haven’t been compiled with, as happened with the Sol Bio project, and we ending up losing a lot of money.
We need to do an analysis of our programs. Maybe there are some places where we could combine service and do things more effectively. And some of our cuts can’t be sustained, like maintenance at the golf courses. We can’t continue to have that restriction or we’ll see the effects in a reduction of play at our courses.
How would you encourage economic growth and stability in Boulder City?
I think we encourage economic stability by ensuring we properly manage our budget. As for bringing in businesses, we need to make City Hall a friendly place to do businesses. We shouldn’t be creating obstacles for people obtaining business licenses.
We could also encourage growth by providing senior citizens with reductions in their utility rates. If people have more money in their pockets, they’re going to go out and spend it. We need to promote people going to our local businesses, instead of going outside the city. It’s about pride of ownership in our community.
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 this week. What is your opinion on the decision to sue those petitioners?
There were a lot of ways to avoid that situation. I think we should make it mandatory for the city attorney to review ballot initiatives proposed by citizens. That’s a good place to start.
And if we are filing lawsuits before the election, we shouldn’t name sponsors as defendants. We should be naming the city clerk or the secretary of state. Post-election, we should be using Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 43, so we’re not suing anyone and we can still determine the legality.
Most importantly, we should try to comply with the will of the voters. There could be an initiative that ties the hands of the council too much or is unconstitutional, but unless there is, we should listen to the people. I would never vote to sue the sponsors of an initiative. That creates a conflict between the city council and the residents.
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’s car registration, could be used as examples. How would you encourage civil discourse in City Hall?
I tend to disagree with the feeling that there is hostility between council members. There are certainly instances of potshots being taken, and I think that should not be tolerated. People should see our City Council as a group of people working together. I don’t see it as incivility between City Council because we need to encourage vigorous debate. But, yes, there is a lack of professionalism at times. Can it be moderated? That remains to be seen.
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?
Mayor Tobler has been involved with the Regional Transportation Commission, while I’ve been serving on the Health District board. He’s been intimately involved with this problem, and I don’t know if he’s had any ability to make any inroads. We’ve known about this for a long time.
We need to do whatever we can to alleviate the problem. We need to look at a variety of options — some type of road coming from the Hemingway Valley to the other side of town, extending Marina Drive, building some kind of overpass or flyover from the lake side to the rest of town, or extending Industrial Road. My other concern is we have no assurances that Interstate 11 will become a reality. We need to keep an eye on that.
For the last eight years, this has been the mayor’s realm. It’s hard to know what could have been done.
Finally, why are you the right candidate for mayor?
Because I have proven that my center of concentration has always been the people of Boulder City. I am always spending and guarding the taxpayers’ money with a sharp eye, which is something we have sometimes been lax in. It may seem trivial, but I’ve also shown that I pay attention to detail. With respects to the city’s leases, I am the one who came forward and asked why we didn’t have a checklist to ensure payments.
And I demand accountability. That’s why I asked for a meeting to consider terminating the city manager when the news about her car registration came out. She refused to give me information, and Mayor Tobler allowed that to happen. He allowed that insubordination. How can we do our due diligence without all the facts?
We need to keep our house in order. The mayor should be the person who does that.