Four vie for three Gardnerville seats |

Four vie for three Gardnerville seats

by Scott Neuffer

One out of four candidates seeking voter placement on the Gardnerville Town Board will go home empty handed this election season, as there are only three seats available.

One seat is being vacated by Board Chairman Tom Cook, who is term-limited. The other two seats are being defended by incumbents Jerry Smith and Mike Philips.

n Candidate Ken Miller, 63, is a retired insurance agent and banker and a 27-year resident of Hussman Avenue.

“My neighbor Tom Cook is term-limited out this year, so I decided to run in his place because I felt the neighborhood I live in needs representation,” he said.

Miller has been in Rotary for 30 years and is also treasurer of the Main Street Gardnerville board of directors.

“I think that this Main Street program is one of the best programs I have seen in the area as far as shopping locally for merchants,” he said. “I would like to continue programs like this, and the only way to continue them is to be on the town board.”

Miller said one of the biggest challenges facing the town in the next four years is learning how to work with Walmart.

“It definitely looks like they’re coming this way, and the town can definitely work with them and benefit its smaller merchants rather than being detrimental,” Miller said. “Each one of our small merchants is unique in itself and not actually in competition with Walmart.”

Miller said the recession has hurt tourist-based revenues, and it’s up to elected officials to rebuild the economy.

“We’re going to have to find other things to attract people to this area besides gaming,” he said. “I believe the Main Street program is on the path to do that.”

n Mike Philips, 64, is a retired Nevada Division of Forestry fire crew captain who has lived in the Valley for more than 40 years. He is seeking his third and final term.

“We got some things that we’ve been working on that I’d like to see get finished,” he said. “The acquisition of the Hellwinkel Ranch, I’d like to see that through. We’ve also been pushing hard on the flood study. It’s a priority for me, and I want to see it come to fruition.”

Philips said he’s done well for the town throughout his two terms.

“I’ve made the people of the town, its citizens, a priority in everything I have been involved with,” he said, “trying to keep costs down for everyone as much as we can and making sure they’re getting what they voted for.”

Philips said trying to stay afloat in the economy will be the ultimate challenge in the next term.

“Just trying to make it through this until everybody in the country, in the state and county, gets back on their feet,” he said. “It’s important to do our darndest to keep costs under control.”

Philips said he hopes voters give him the chance to complete one more term.

“I have enjoyed the town immensely,” he said. “Living here has been a great experience. It’s a great place to live, and I have raised several children here. I love the area.”

n Jerry Smith, 62, is a 40-plus-year resident retired from a career at the former Copeland Lumber in Minden and Meek’s building centers at other locations. Like Philips, he is seeking his third and final term.

“I want to continue because of the progress we’ve made, the great improvements in the town of Gardnerville, the leaps with Heritage Park and the poles and baskets downtown and the Main Street program,” he said. “Our board has really come together and achieved a lot in all these years. I first decided to get involved when things were going south, when the only way to get things changed was to become part of it.”

Smith, whose wife Starla is a fifth-generation Mott, said he can’t take sole credit for the improvements downtown. He credits the board as a collective whole.

“It’s a joint effort, a team effort in regard to the board members,” he said. “We were pretty much in consensus about what needed to be done, what needed to take place, and we made it happen.”

Smith said he listens to his constituents and their concerns.

“I think the economy has really taken a bad turn, and it’s going to make for a lot of changes in both Douglas County and the town,” he said. “It hasn’t been good for anybody, and we understand that as a town, while trying to make great strides, we can’t impact citizens anymore than we have to. We always say on the town board that it’s the town’s money, and we have to make sure it’s spent wisely.”

n Linda Slater, 62, wife of former Gardnerville board member Randy Slater, has lived in Douglas County since 1968. She is a retired elected official who served two terms as Douglas County recorder, from 1994 to 2002, after working in the recorder/auditor office since 1972.

“I believe in Gardnerville and believe in the future of Gardnerville,” Slater said. “I think it’s imperative to have someone on the board to look down the road and make good, sound decisions, and I think I can do that well.”

Slater said her life experience has taught her the pitfalls of local government and how to avoid them.

“I think I can be a very strong voice for the people,” she said. “I have good, clear direction, and together we have such momentum right now in Gardnerville. I think as long as we stay on course and take small steps forward, not backward, we can keep going.”

Slater said the town currently has good board members who share similar philosophies. She wants to join them.

“I have the leadership skills and abilities, and I am a people person, very approachable,” she said. “I don’t have any hidden agendas, whether political or not. I’m unbiased and have a good ear when listening to people. If residents have issues and concerns, I’m always open to a phone call from them.”

Like her opponents, Slater said the economy will be the big challenge in the coming years.

“We don’t want to step backwards,” she said. “There are projects, like the Martin Slough, that need to be fulfilled. We need to put one foot in front of the other, move forward and complete the projects, but we don’t want additional tax burdens for our residents. Whatever we can do to move forward without taxing residents will be the most challenging issue.”