Nobody files for Genoa town board
Three weeks after a deadline for applications was extended, no one has sought either of two empty seats on the Genoa Town Board.
The lackluster response has one of the remaining three board members and a county commissioner wondering if the number of seats should be reduced to three, just a year after the county expanded the number to five.
“We need to have this debate openly and candidly,” said County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, whose district includes Genoa. “We thought we were doing the right thing by going to a five-person board, that the burden would be a little less on five than on three. Obviously, that’s not working.”
The vacancies occurred when Kara Hayes and Lou Schaffer resigned in July. The county commission, which is responsible for appointing replacements to finish the unexpired terms, put out a notice seeking applicants but got no response.
The commission then extended the deadline for another month, to Sept. 2. As of Friday, no one had applied.
Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle said there are no penalties for leaving the seats unoccupied if no Genoa residents who are registered voters and are willing and able to serve come forward.
“I’m not aware of a statute that would allow somebody to be drafted or conscripted into serving on the town board,” he said. “Hopefully, they can find somebody.”
Etchegoyhen said he and the other commissioners may try to recruit eligible town residents. They may also discuss cutting the number of town board seats to three at the Sept. 2 meeting.
n Surprised. Etchegoyhen said the lack of interest is surprising because he remembers several Genoa residents urging the county commission to expand the town board from three to five seats in 1998.
Gardnerville and Minden both have five-member town boards, and Etchegoyhen said the county commission, which made the change by adjusting the county’s ordinances, wanted to diffuse the politics that sometimes divide Genoa.
“We thought that logistically, a three person board is a tough way to go in a small town,” said Etchegoyhen. “As I recollect, only about 150 people vote in the election for the town board, but we thought it wouldn’t be too tough to get five of them to serve. I guess we didn’t realize how tough it would be until now.”
The town board members have different personal opinions. Michael Miluck, who served when the board had only three members, supports a smaller town board because Genoa has fewer residents than Minden and Gardnerville.
“Look at the population difference,” he said. “In fairness, it should be three instead of five.”
Miluck also thinks board members should be paid. Minden and Gardnerville town board members get a $250 monthly stipend.
Miluck plans to discuss his opinions at the town board’s September meeting. At least one should bring some debate, because another town board member, Bernie Carter, prefers a five-member board.
“It gives a lot better diversity,” said Carter. “There’s much better dynamics, much better diversity and I think much better representation in the community.”
Dennis White, who might be a tiebreaker in the discussion, hasn’t made up his mind.
n In limbo. “I’m just sort of in limbo. We’ve been consumed with the Candy Dance, and when we get through that, we’ll take it up,” White said. “I haven’t given it much thought.”
The county commission would have ultimate discretion on whether to change the board composition again. Etchegoyhen predicts a difficult choice.
“I think it’s kind of indicative that it’s difficult to find people willing to volunteer their time,” he said. “It’s a tough issue. You do wonder, are we taking a big step away from public service if we change it? It’s something we need to talk about openly.”