Five battle for three openings on Ranchos board

Five candidates, including two incumbents, are competing for three seats on the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District Board.

District Manager Bob Spellberg said two seats are being sought by incumbents Jeff James and Bruce Reavis, and one seat is being vacated by Al Wagner, who is term limited out.

When asked about the challenges facing the district in the next four years, Spellberg pointed to the drooping economy. He said that interest income is non-existent, and that district funding is coming from property and sales taxes.

"Because of the economic situation, the challenge is ensuring that we can give the best service we can with the money we get," he said.

n GRGID Chairman Bruce Reavis, 71, is a retired accountant seeking his third and final term. Still working part-time as the controller for Bing Construction, Reavis has lived in the Gardnerville Ranchos for 40 years.

"I've enjoyed being on the board," he said. "I think I have helped with decisions. I have worked very hard to keep water rates down, and was instrumental in getting a moratorium on water meters for grandfathering people in, so we wouldn't start charging water meter rates until 2017, unless a house changes hands or is newly built."

Reavis said with no construction or new subdivisions in the Ranchos, the board will pretty much be holding the status quo over the next four years.

"We haven't raised rates as far as property tax in probably 15 years," he said.

He said the current GRGID tax rate is about 37 cents per $100 of assessed value and can go up to 85 cents.

"I would not be for an increase in the district property rate unless something drastic happens," he said. "We run a pretty lean and mean machine down there."

Reavis also said that the district has the best roads in the county and very few water system failures.

"We try to keep a low profile and get everything done efficiently," he said. "One thing we have been working on is Mitch Drive Park. We're going to put a 2-acre fishing pond there, and it's one of the things we want to see accomplished. It's been very important to the whole board."

n GRGID Treasurer Jeff James, 41, is an East Fork firefighter/paramedic seeking his second term. He's lived in the Ranchos since 2001 after moving down from Lake Tahoe with his family. This year, he was appointed to the Nevada League of Cities' board of directors.

"I want to continue the work that I've done already," James said. "I've been a trustee for four years now and have been able to get to know the district. We've been working hard on Mitch Drive Park, getting ready to build the fishing pond, and maintaining the trails system."

James said he was also involved with planning and designing a student drop-off and pick-up site across from Meneley Elementary.

"We're keeping tabs on the cost, and as far as a GID goes, we're small and do a good job with a limited amount of staff," he said. "We do a lot of our own work as far as street maintenance and water pits, instead of farming it out and costing twice as much."

James said he's involved in the community in multiple ways, whether in the fire department, the schools, or youth sports.

"I can't say I want to change a lot," he said. "Everything is running well. Bob (Spellberg) has great staff, and I want to continue to be involved in keeping things the way they are while improving the quality of life."

James said future challenges will probably be fiscal in nature due to the economy.

"We have a declining population and declining growth," he said. "We still need to maintain our quality of life with a more limited revenue stream."

n Shari James, 49, executive director of her husband's dental office in Minden, is seeking her first public office. James has lived in the Ranchos for three years and grew up in a "farm atmosphere" in California.

"My husband and I decided to move here to get back to our roots, to the type of atmosphere I grew up in," she said. "I have a lot to offer the community in the way I was raised, and I appreciate the small-town feel, the rural atmosphere we have here, and I want to keep that in the Gardnerville Ranchos."

At the same time, James said, she's a business woman who understands that the community needs to attract new families.

"Raising children, I know what families need and want for their children, whether the skate parks or sidewalks or trails; they want safety for their children," she said. "I also have big concerns about our dependency on the existing water wells. What will the future be if those wells dry up? What do we have as a back-up plan? If elected, I would develop a 10-, 15- or 20-year back-up plan in case the wells were to dry up."

James said the biggest challenge in the next four years is getting people to buy the many homes for sale in the area.

"We don't want it to start looking rundown," she said. "Just living here, I'm noticing that certain areas are nice, and certain areas are shaggy looking. I'd like to address that and find out why it's happening, why we're allowing areas to look like that if there is money in the budget to make it a little more appealing."

n Brad Newlon, 47, is a history teacher at Douglas High School who is also seeking his first public office. Born and raised in Montana, Newlon has lived in the Ranchos for 13 years.

"I thought it was time to get involved in the community," he said. "Teaching history, we study a lot of current affairs and local government stuff, and when the opening came up, I thought it would be an opportunity to give back and use as an example for my kids in school."

Newlon said he wants to make an impact at the local level.

"I think what I bring to the table is some fiscal common sense," he said. "I think it's important to guard the money people are paying in. People work hard for their money, and it's important that people get the best bang for their buck."

Newlon said upcoming challenges for the district will be two-fold:

"One will be managing money. From what I can tell, they've done a good job keeping the budget in line. The rates haven't gone up in years," he said. "I know there is a water meter issue coming in 2017, and that's going to have to be implemented fairly without hardship on the people of the Ranchos.

"The second challenge will be trying to grow, trying to keep up quality things like the parks and the fishing pond," he said. "Just staying on top of the projects and making sure they're done right."

n Candidate Jeremy Davidson, 32, is a licensed residential designer who has lived in the Ranchos for more than 20 years.

Davidson is a member of the Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club, a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Carson Valley, and belongs to Masonic Lodge No. 33.

"I've grown up in the Ranchos," he said. "I want to improve the quality of life not only for current residents, but for future generations."

Davidson said he would focus on completing the parks and creating more pedestrian-friendly streets.

"I want to improve and maintain the park system, to see Mitch Drive Park continue and come to completion," he said, "but also improve some of the streets and roads that could be more resident-friendly, with sidewalks and bike paths and speed control devices. Some cars can really get going out there, and my main focus would be maintaining road quality, improving pedestrian traffic and the quality of the parks."

Davidson said fiscal responsibility would also be his charge.

"I want to make sure we're not raising rates from the GID itself to residents," he said. "My experience alone, being a project manager for 15 years, brings a lot to the table. I have experience with parks, streets, water systems, and a good understanding of what they entail."


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