Genoa Candidates Battle It Out
The Sierra Starlight Amphitheatre is on the minds of six candidates who are vying for three Genoa Town Board seats.
The Sierra Starlight Amphitheatre which rocked the town this summer has brought dissension to the small town, and its more than 200 registered voters.
The three partners, which lost money in this summer’s music series, want to return for a second series. Residents who live near Mormon Station State park have complained about noise levels, but others see the benefit of the concerts bringing visitors to town.
At a recent Candidates Night sponsored by the Greater Genoa Business Association and hosted by GGBA Vice-chairman Les Kynett many of the questions asked by the 60 or so people in attendance centered around the series’ continuation.
Five candidates, Ed Hoffman, Steven Hollister, Nancy Miluck, Carla Quenzer, and Michael Saffran attended, along with county commissioners.
Hoffman, Hollister and Saffran are the incumbents in the race. Eckhout, who could not attend Candidates Night, and Quenzer and Miluck, are contesting them for their seats.
Each candidate gave a five-minute presentation, and residents could anonymously write questions on index cards for the candidates.
The three board seats are four-year terms. The other two seats, held by Bo Bottiggi and Bill Donohoe, will be up for election in 2004.
“There was no name calling,” Kynett said. “It was very civil. Everyone got their questions answered.”
Kynett said John Pappenfort, a partner in the Sierra Starlight Amphitheatre was also present. Pappenfort, along with partners John Procaccini and Doug Reynolds, brought the eight-session concert series to Genoa’s Mormon Station State Park this summer.
In a recent interview, Procaccini said the three partners are considering a shorter series with four to six concerts for next summer.
“I think the main focus of a lot of people in attendance was the concern about the concerts,” Kynett said. “I think all five candidates that were there realized it has a great impact on the portion of the residents in town.”
Quenzer says she doesn’t think there is a huge difference in opinion among the candidates about the music series.
“They want to keep the place charming and retain the quaintness of (the town),” she said.
Hoffman said until changes are made to remedy problems Genoa residents have identified with the series, he is not ready to support the return.
“I’m not going to support it if it continues to be a nuisance,” he said. “We’d love to have it again, but we can’t treat our residents like that.”
Miluck said Procaccini is a reasonable man and she feels issues can be resolved with him and his partners.
But she alleged the Genoa Town Board did not put out an agenda when amphitheatre partners came before the board in February.
“It is unnerving when no one knows what’s going on,” she said.
Miluck said she is also concerned about the way the Genoa Town Board handles issues.
“I just feel there’s a callousness with money that disturbs me,” she said. “I don’t think they’ve turned down a single expenditure in the last two years. The whole thing is kind of kooky. I would suggest we go back to the old three person board that we had.”
Town Manager Paul Williams, who did not attend Candidates Night, said he believes the board changed from three to five people in 1999 because of a desire for more input.
Miluck said she has twice filed papers with the Attorney General’s office based on claims the board did not follow its meeting agenda.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that shouldn’t and there’s not a level playing field,” she said.
Kynett said another issue residents asked candidates about was attracting tourism.
“We’ve had business come here in the past four or five months, and I think there’s a general concern about how to better provide more tourism and more quality,” he said.
Eckhout says she is still running for a seat on the Genoa Town Board, despite missing the Oct. 9 forum at Genoa Town Hall.
Eckhout said she’s been out of town and busy with two businesses.
“It’s extremely difficult playing catch-up,” she said. “I just couldn’t be there. I’d been at the town board meeting until 10 o’clock the night before.”
But her no-show at Candidates Night is not all that makes her candidacy turbulent.
Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed received a letter from Genoa resident Martha Williams stating Eckhout’s Genoa residence does not appear occupied.
“A friend of mine was in the process of buying Christine’s house in Genoa and upon viewing it with her it was obvious to me no one had lived in the house for quite some time,” the letter reads.
“I also drive by the house every evening and there is never any activity, no cars parked on the property, or lights at night indicating someone is living there.”
But Eckhout said she has lived at her Main Street residence for two years. She travels daily to her ranch, but said Genoa is her primary residence.
Reed said if Eckhout is elected, the clerk’s office will look into the accusation regarding her Genoa residency.
A seventh candidate, Knight, said personal reasons prevent her from running in the election. She missed the May 30 deadline to withdraw her name from the ballot.
n R-C Staff Writer Maggie O’Neill can be reached by e-mail at mo’firstname.lastname@example.org
Sierra Starlight on the minds of Genoa candidates; Eckhout running; Knight out