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New Ranchos member ready to go to work

by Merrie Leininger

The newest member of the Ranchos General Improvement District wasn’t even in the country when he was chosen, but because of an odd Nevada law, he will still have to be on the ballot if he wants to keep his seat.

When he was voted in as a new member May 3, Dennis Le Drew was visiting family and friends in Australia, where he lived for 11 years and where his wife Bernice is from.

Le Drew will replace Victor Hyden starting at the June 7 meeting.

However, because of a state law enacted just a few years ago, he will have to circulate a petition to get his name on the ballot, according to Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed.

“What it basically says is if a vacancy occurs after the closing date for filing and before the second Tuesday in August, the seat is declared open. His seat will appear on the ballot. He can file, but he must submit a nominating petition,” she said.

Reed said a nominating petition must have not less than 1 percent of the number of persons who voted for that office in the last general election. Reed said 3,074 people cast a vote for that seat in the last election, so Le Drew must get at least 31 signatures on a petition. Reed said anyone else is welcome to collect signatures to be put on the ballot. Then the person who files is required to file the declaration with the county clerk’s office and has to pay the statutory filing fee of $30.

If neither Le Drew nor anyone else gets the correct number of signatures, the position will be declared vacant, and Jan. 1, the board will have to make another appointment.

Reed said the law is “a little odd. It was changed because so many people were waiting until after the close of filing to announce they are leaving.”

n Appointment. However, Le Drew says he doesn’t plan on letting any of that stop him. He said he had already planned to run for election if he wasn’t appointed by the board.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m a bit of a political junkie. I like the Ranchos and always had an interest in what’s going on here. I would like to feel I have something to offer,” he said.

Le Drew, a Canadian native, dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and joined the air force.

There, he received training in radar and computers, and from there, got a job with a computer company which handled the government’s satellites. Along the way he earned his GED and then a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He worked in the aerospace industry in California from 1963 until his retirement in 1991, when he moved to the Ranchos. He became a U.S. citizen in 1969. Le Drew said his work with government-contracted satellites is classified.

“It’s safe to say I had some pretty responsible jobs managing contracts worth quite a lot of money. I’ve been reading the Ranchos board manual and I’m familiar with the language that goes into these things. I’ve had a lot of general life experience and hopefully, I can put some of it to use,” he said.

Le Drew, 62, has a grown daughter, Kelly, from a previous marriage. Bernice, whom he married in 1998, has two sons, James and Brendan, who are in college and graduate school in Australia.

Le Drew said his biggest interest as a board member is keeping taxes down because he lives on a limited income, like many seniors in the Ranchos.

He said he is interested in learning all he can about the basic services the Ranchos provides.

Le Drew said he won’t support bringing in new businesses just to fill up empty buildings. He was a vocal opponent of bringing in a casino to the old Gorman’s building.

“I’m not for business for business’ sake. If a business provides good services and good employment, I’m for it. I don’t think I could be construed as a friend of gaming. What we need in this county is high-tech industries like software companies,” he said.

Le Drew said he is also in support of a community-based recreational opportunity, like a bowling alley.

“I would like something that brings people together and is healthy,” he said.

Overall, he said, he supports the direction the current board has taken the Ranchos.

“If I’m going to get my feet wet, it might as well be in a situation where the people know what they’re doing,” he said. “I was very flattered when I was selected. I’m going to do my best to justify their appointment.”