Assembly, commission candidates face off in debate

Growth was one of the issues debated before a full house Wednesday evening as candidates for District 39 Assembly seat and the county commission met face-to-face with residents at Minden's CVIC Hall.

The voter-mandated Sustainable Growth Initiative limits growth in Douglas County to 280 residential units a year, but that number has been challenged in the courts. District Attorney Scott Doyle has suggested a 2 percent cap and the issue is being debated through a series of public meetings supported by Douglas County's planning commission.

District 2 Commissioner David Brady (R) sees the hotly contested issue as a mandate that grew out of the failure by county officials to initiate a growth management plan. The time is right for a growth rate cap because the demand for housing has softened, he said.

"We need to clear the air and control our growth rate," he said.

Brady's opponent Lloyd Higuera (R) said he has been attending the public meetings on the topic and the county should have a growth management plan soon. The growth rate will most likely be limited to somewhere between 2 and 4 percent, but the devil is in the details and the challenge is in implementation of that growth rate.

"There are exceptions and hardships, special considerations for agricultural lands and questions concerning permits that have already been approved," he said. "Should certain areas in Douglas County get special consideration and should big builders get more permits than smaller builders."

Janet Murphy (R), a commission candidate for District 4, suggests a more strategic approach rather than a number. Otherwise, the county's growth management could be decided in the courts.

"What happens in the county economically will play a big part in the growth factor," she said.

District 4 candidate Nancy McDermid (R) said growth is the six-letter word on everyone's list. On the forefront of this issue for months as chairman of the planning commission, McDermid said it's premature to say whether a hard number or percentage will work.

"We're still waiting for data, but the master plan speaks about management of growth and land use. Zoning maps designate where that growth should take place," she said. "We're seeing some wonderful results from the workshops and the planning commission will be drafting something this year for county commissioners to consider and adopt."

Democratic candidate Greta Hambsch, (D) who will be facing either Murphy or McDermid in the Nov. 7 general election, said the issue needs to be addressed soon.

"Right now, the sheriff's office is telling us we're short 45 police officers in Douglas County," she said. "We can't continue to allow growth when we haven't taken care of infrastructure and essential services."

Population growth in Nevada is stressing resources in Northern Nevada and Assembly candidates were asked how those resources could be protected.

Rick Gardner (R) said water is the primary resource that needs to be considered.

"Southern Nevada has three options to solve their water demands and none of them are good," he said. "One is to pump water out of the northern Nevada."

Douglas County is better off than most, but that doesn't mean we should be shipping our water to them, he said.

"Shipping water rights out of the basin isn't a viable solution," he said. "We need to fight it."

James Settelmeyer (R) said one delegate can't make much of a difference, especially when the vast majority of Nevada's state representatives are from Clark County. We have to work together.

"Everyone thinks water hookups are high here, but in Las Vegas they cost $45,000," he said. "They're banking money to build a pipeline from the north."

To meet the growing demand, he suggests tapping other states rather than Nevada's limited water resources.

"Clark County could pay Santa Barbara to hook up their desalination plant," he said. "There's a real potential for that."

Smallwood (R) said as Clark County puts more demands on the state's resources, rural counties must stick together.

"We can't allow Clark to infringe on resources in Northern Nevada," she said.

John Dicks (R) urged cooperation between the northern and southern factions in Nevada. He doesn't support moving water to different basins, but he recognizes that Las Vegas has some real problems. Working with Southern Nevada could be instrumental in maintaining our Northern Nevada lifestyle.

"I'm on the local Government Management Relations Board and I go to Las Vegas 10-12 times a year to listen to disputes," he said. "They have some serious problems and there are things we can do to help solve them."

He also urged residents to fight to keep the state's capitol in Carson City.

"That's a real threat as the population grows in Nevada, but the more investment we make here, the harder it will be to move the capitol later on," he said.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext.



Many other topics were discussed during the two-hour debate, which will be aired on channel 26 DCCATV twice daily from July 21 through 28, at 6 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.

Additional scheduling will be announced next week.

Radio station KMCY, KKFT 99.1 FM talk,will be airing the debate Aug. 12-13. A time has not been set, but will be announced on the radio.


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