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?
What I’m proud of is we have maintained all our essential services and most of our preferred ones as well -- parks and recreation, for example. We’ve been cutting for the last three years. Labor is at 70 percent of what it was when I took office. There isn’t much else that we can cut. Overall, though, I think the city has been pretty conservative and put itself in a better position than some of our peers.
My concern has been the debt for a long time. I’ve always talked about it. And now we have a plan. With increased revenue from our solar leases, we’re going to have the potential to cut our debt by more than half in the next five years and maybe eliminate it altogether in the next 10-15 years. That’s huge. It will let us rebuild our general fund balance and possibly reduce utility rates. We’re restoring vitality to our city at a time when most other cities are struggling.
How would you encourage economic growth and stability in Boulder City?
One of the things we have done is develop the energy zone. Sempra Energy will bring 800 construction jobs to the city over the next five years. Boulder City is playing an important role in Southern Nevada with renewable energy. Those jobs aren’t permanent, but those are the industries that are hurting.
We’re a small town. What we need to do is stress the importance of going to local businesses. I’ve been working hard on the traffic situation, which has hurt us economically. If people can’t get to your business, that’s going to kill your economy. I’ve been the most vocal proponent of fixing that problem.
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?
I’m not happy with where we’re at. All we’re trying to do is figure out the legality of these ordinances. We’re not suing them for harm or damages, and we technically already adopted the ordinances. But we can’t even find out the legality from the judge because Linda and Tracy Strickland have filed these anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) motions to dismiss, which are holding up the process. They’ve lost all three judgments on those motions, and yet they’ve said they’re going to appeal. They are the ones who are delaying the process.
We’re fine with whatever the courts decide. (The Stricklands) are prolonging the process and driving up costs. And I don’t understand how Linda Strickland can be a member of city council and then serve as the defendants’ attorney. She can no longer do both. They are saying now that there was another way to challenge the legality, but she never mentioned that when we were discussing this before the lawsuits were filed. She should have acted in the best interest of the city.
We need a better process, but never was their right to petition violated.
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 think if people watch the city council meetings, they’ll see that I’m pretty fair. I’ve tried to clamp down on the personal attacks, and I’ve always shown respect to the other members of council. It’s not me who’s lost my temper. I think I lead in a positive way, not a negative one. It’s frustrating when we come to a meeting and, instead of offering solutions, we’re criticizing people. And the longer you are in office, the more polarized you become. You have to maintain your courtesy.
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?
I’m going to continue doing the same things that I’ve been doing, and that’s trying to get people to understand the situation. In the short term, widening U.S. 93 should help, and NDOT has committed money for the first time to that project. They’re finally aware of the problem.
Partnering with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada for my press conference in December has also had a big impact. They did a great job getting on board. Now we have the governor talking about the problem, and I think that conference got the ball rolling.
But we still need to keep our eyes on a Boulder City bypass. When the Deepwater Port opens in Mexico, we’re not going to be able to handle all the trucks coming through. It will just add to the problem. They will shut the city down. We’ve been warning people about this for years, and we have to remain diligent.
Finally, why are you the right candidate for mayor?
I think my record shows my commitment to Boulder City. I’ve been getting involved with every issue. I’ll meet with anybody. I’ve provided positive leadership and brought solutions to some of our problems. I’ve built relationship with other civil leaders. I think people want someone who will compromise, and I’ve tried to bring the council together to keep us moving forward. I think we’re starting to see the city’s potential.
Certainly, things aren’t perfect, but they never are. I want people to look at what I’ve done.