Tempers flare at Gardnerville Town Board
Tempers flarewd at Thursday’s Gardnerville Town Board meeting regarding a dispute with the water company.
“I am getting hot under the collar,” said Tom Cook of the Gardnerville Town Board, when Gardnerville Water Company Manager Mark Gonzales informed the board bylaws does not give it the right to cast a vote for the upcoming board election.
At the town board meeting Thursday afternoon, Gonzales explained the bylaws indicate that because most of the parcels owned by the Town of Gardnerville owns are in District 2, they cannot vote for a director running in District 1.
Incumbent Barbara Smallwood being challenged by Barb Henninsen for the four-year term in District 1.
In District 4, Water Company Director Dennis Wills is running unopposed.
Town Manager Jim Park said the town board met to discuss if the town would vote and for whom in the Nov. 5 general election.
The director seat question is not part of the general election ballot and is only offered to Gardnerville residents.
Gardnerville owns three parcels DEGardner Park, in District 1, but the two in District 3, the Town Hall and one on Waterloo Lane.
“Why are you afraid of the town voting?” said Chairman Randy Slater. “And then you send out trash literature. You people are unbelievable.”
Gonzales replied, “I am not afraid of anything.”
“You should be,” said Slater.
The board was upset the Water Company distributed letters to more than 1,800 Gardnerville residents asking them to reject an advisory question on the upcoming Nov. 5 ballot. The question asks whether the town rather than the water company should provide water service.
After Cook conceded the town has no right to cast a vote, Slater said the water company “changes it bylaws on a whim.”
He said water company ballots require voters to sign their names to indicate they are voting from the correct district. However, Slater claimed it was not going to be a fair election.
The meeting was adjourned without action.
After the meeting, Gonzales said he expected the members to “blow up.”
Slater “is very hot-tempered,” he said. “I came over to make sure they were aware. I gave them a copy of the bylaws.
“We have an independent firm monitoring the election to make sure it is fair.”
After the meeting, Slater confronted Gonzales in the Town Hall parking lot.
“You are not being honest,” he said. “Don’t you have a conscience. You are protecting something ridiculous.”
Slater said he had previously met with Gonzales in order to ensure the water company would work fairly with the town.
“I am upset about everything,” he said. “Year after year, we were allowed to vote at large and now they are changing the bylaws so two-thirds of people in Gardnerville aren’t even allowed to vote.
“This is a closed society. They are trying to control who is on the board.
“The damn water company is owned by people who want some say.”
n Regina Purcell can e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org