Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m.
Early voting in Boulder City will be held March 21-April 3 at Boulder City Hall. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call the City Clerk’s office, 293-9208.
The nine candidates for City Council may not agree on much, but they are unanimous on one point — all say this election is pivotal.
“What’s going to result is who is going to control the City Council,” said candidate Duncan McCoy, retired director of the Boulder City Library.
Former Councilman Bill Smith, who is running again this year, said, “It seems there is becoming a division among candidates that mirrors the division on the current council.”
That division, several candidates said, pits Council members Travis Chandler and Linda Strickland, who were elected in 2007, against Mayor Roger Tobler and the other two council members.
But with council members Mike Pacini and Andrea Anderson not running for re-election, the balance of power could tilt.
Early voting for the primary election, which will narrow the field from nine to four, begins Saturday.
Some candidates are openly aligning themselves with one side or the other and point to their confidence in the senior city staff — City Manager Vicki Mayes, City Attorney Dave Olsen and City Clerk Pamella Malmstrom — as a key point of division.
McCoy’s Web site states he supports city staff and says, “Mayor Roger Tobler needs a working majority on the council to keep city affairs moving forward.”
McCoy, who said he is running to maintain the current balance of power, is also encouraging his supporters to vote for fellow candidate Cam Walker. Anderson has endorsed Walker and McCoy.
Walker said he appreciates the support but plans to run an independent campaign. Noting that he has met with Chandler, Anderson, Pacini and Tobler, Walker said his experience allows him “to have unique, open dialogue with everyone.”
He said the election is pivotal because of two issues: the city’s debt and the opening in 2010 of the Hoover Dam bypass, which will allow tractor-trailers through Boulder City again after they were diverted in 2001.
Anthony Pakula said he is running to push for the sale of home lots around the Boulder Creek Golf Course, an issue that has regularly resulted in 3-2 votes on the council in favor of the course.
He also said he disagrees with the amount of unnecessary debate Strickland and Chandler have brought to the council.
Candidate Matt Di Teresa says if he and either Smith or Joe Roché is elected, “You’ll see more open government and more cooperation between city staff and the council — even if that requires replacing some city staff.”
Strickland has endorsed all three.
While Smith said he agrees with Roché and Di Teresa on some issues, he does not want to be seen as running on a ticket.
“There seems to be divisions that split the candidates into one camp or another, and I don’t want to be part of either of those camps,” he said.
Nor, he said, is he eager to get rid of any senior managers.
“I hope it does not come to that. I don’t think it will have to,” he said.
Other candidates are positioning themselves as people who can bridge the two sides.
“I think I could serve as a catalyst and the swing vote if elected, which would be a wonderful position, because I can take the best of both sides,” Planning Commissioner John Schleppegrell said.
Chris Gatlin sees himself in a similar position if elected.
“I’m hoping to be a somewhat middle-of-the-road person, someone to look down both sides, to bring a little balance,” he said.
Retired police sergeant Jim Reed said he has no allegiance to either side, but he does have a strong interest in fixing problems he saw as a city employee.
“I’m not an ax man, but there are definitely some problems and, if elected, I will bring my knowledge to the table and maybe open some eyes,” he said.
Strickland, who has endorsed Smith, Roché and Di Teresa, said the way the outcome of the election will shape the council has become a focal point of the campaigns by default.
“In most incidences, I don’t see how candidates cannot take a side,” she said. “We’re supposed to be looking at the issues and not the people, but they’re generally so set in stone.”
The two open seats represent an opportunity to make some change, she said.
Tobler, however, said that might not be what the voters want.
“Overall, it’s a great little community,” he said. “People are doing things right to preserve our small-town lifestyle.”