Thursday’s town hall debate gave nearly 200 Carson Valley residents an opportunity to learn about the candidates for sheriff and Assembly District 39.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, who’d sent his regrets, was able to cancel his prior engagement and participate in the forum with challenger Robin Reedy.
Sheriff Ron Pierini debated the state of law enforcement with his challengers, former county commissioner Dave Brady and retired Nevada Highway Patrol Headquarters Commander Michael Gyll.
The debate was recorded and will be broadcast on Douglas County Community Access Television Channel 193 in Carson Valley and Channel 192 at Lake Tahoe for Charter customers only.
Thursday’s debate at the CVIC Hall in Minden was sponsored by the Business Council of Douglas County, the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and The Record-Courier.
Former Douglas County commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen moderated the event.
“Words matter, facts matter, if you don’t know how the system works you can’t change it,” Reedy said in her opening. “We’re all combatants in a culture war. That means you have to be tougher smarter, and wiser than the other guys. We’re all in the same boat and we can’t afford to have someone mouthing off and shooting holes in the boat. There’s too much at stake in this culture war.”
Wheeler acknowledged that talking off the cuff does sometimes get him into trouble, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.
“I’m not an establishment Republican, if there is any such thing,” he said. “I do pretty much what my constituents want me to do. In Douglas County … it’s not that hard to do, really.
“Remember your conservative value,s and you can know what your constituents want most of the time. On the back of my literature is my cell phone, because I think you ought to be able to get a hold of the people who represent you.”
Wheeler pointed to the bill he presented that required Nevada to sue should any president issue an executive order affecting residents Second Amendment rights.
“That bill didn’t get out of the Democratic committee, he said.
Reedy attacked Wheeler on his legislative record in which he did not pass a single bill.
“He submitted six different drafts,” she said. “He was the only GOP assemblyman not to pass a bill.”
Wheeler said that he could have had his name on a bill that passed if he was willing to put his name on a bill to name the state dog.
Sheriff challenger Dave Brady said the number of deputies patrolling Douglas County at any given time hasn’t changed, while the population and the sheriff’s budget have both increased substantially.
He said that the overall number of sworn personnel meets national averages for a community the size of Douglas County, but only half the recommended average is out on patrol.
Pierini said that the average number of patrols are often eight or nine on every shift.
“When you need somebody because someone is breaking into your house, we respond there within five minutes,” Pierini said. “Tell me where you came from that it’s five minutes.”
Gyll told the crowd he favored progress and more interaction between the department and the community.
“We are stuck in the ’90s,” he said. “We have a limited number of police officers, a limited number of resources. We need to educate people. But together as a community, if you see something I would expect you to bring it to me. You would say to me, ‘Sheriff, this is where I see a problem.’”
Gyll said he would be an additional officer on the street.
“I’m going to put an additional set of boots on the ground,” he said. “I am not just the sheriff. I am a police officer. I have been one for 21 years. I believe we are separating our communities because of social and economic values.”
Brady said he was the only candidate for sheriff with a plan for putting more deputies on the street.
“The mantra in government is to do more with less, but a recent response from the sheriff was ‘if you want more deputies, pay more taxes.’”
Brady is advocating a audit and national accreditation for the department.
Pierini was appointed sheriff in 1997, and has run unopposed until this year. Brady said Douglas County residents haven’t had a choice for sheriff in 32 years, but former Sheriff Jerry Maple faced opponents in 1990 and 1994.