Candidates share views on issues affecting city

Four men are vying for one of two seats on the City Council.

Councilman Cam Walker is seeking re-election to his third and final term on the council. The other seat is currently held by Councilman Duncan McCoy, who decided not to seek re-election.

In addition to Walker, John Milburn, Kiernan McManus and Warren Harhay are running.

The four candidates were selected from a field of eight contenders who sought the seat during the April primary.

Harhay emerged as the top vote-getter in the primary with 1,167 votes or 17.89 percent. McManus received 1,116 votes, or 17.11 percent. Walker received 1,100 votes or 16.87 percent of the vote, and Milburn received 1,083 votes or 16.61 percent.

Early voting will be held May 31 through June 3 inside the council chambers at City Hall, 401 California Ave., with polls open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 31 and June 1 and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 2 and 3.

The general election will be held June 13, with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voting will be conducted at voting centers at Boulder City Parks and Recreation Center, 900 Arizona St., and King Elementary School, 888 Adams Blvd. By having voting centers instead of precincts, residents can cast their ballots at either facility.

To help residents make an informed decision, the Boulder City Review asked each candidate several questions. Their answers appear below.

Cam Walker

■ Age: 50

■ Marital status: Married to my wife of 27 years, Michele

■ Family: Five children, two married, and one granddaughter.

■ Occupation: Business development for Ledcor

■ Club/organization affiliations: City councilman and mayor pro tem; vice chairman of Debt Management Commission; treasurer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; secretary Las Vegas Events; executive board member Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance; Boy Scouts of America; past member of Boulder City Hospital Foundation for more than 12 years.

■ Email or website for voters to contact you at: cam@camcwalker.com, www.votecamwalker.com.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 1, which seeks to eliminate the 30 home per developer per year limit that is part of the controlled growth ordinance, while retaining the 120-home limit, and why?

My wife and I moved to Boulder City in 1995 to raise our family. We have loved the small-town charm, the great schools and the sense of community. While I believe that we need to change the 30-home limit per developer, this was done too quickly and has several other impacts that have not been discussed. I feel that if we are going to change more than the number, then the specifics of the question should be discussed with the community long before it arrives on the ballot.

During the past decade, our town has had virtually no growth (about 15 homes per year average). The debate is now between “no” growth or “controlled” growth. I believe some growth is needed to keep our town’s economy and schools healthy.

To encourage some controlled growth, we need to make some changes in policy, and changing the 30-home limit per developer is one way to stimulate some growth. Perhaps by changing this we maybe could get more than one bidder on the land that has already been approved by the voters for homes. However, it would have been my preference to see the 30 homes per developer simply be adjusted to 50 or 60 homes; but I do believe we need minor adjustments to our growth control ordinance.

My goal, should you elect me, would be to have town halls to discuss the matter before having the City Council put another question on the next ballot. For these reasons, I cannot support Ballot Question No. 1.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 2, which is an advisory question about adding an interchange to Interstate 11 at Buchanan Boulevard, and why?

First, the construction would not take place for at least six to eight years. Second, I’m concerned about who is going to pay the $20 million price tag. Finally, we will have the bypass next year regardless.

Let’s take a breath and wait for the changes that our community faces with the opening of the bypass. I’m concerned about creating another entry and potential business center in town. I also worry about how this interchange would change and perhaps increase traffic volume through residential neighborhoods.

While I understand the logic of providing drivers with another access to our town’s businesses, I also don’t want inadvertently to create another bypass to our restaurants and businesses on Nevada Highway.

This should be on the ballot in several years when we understand the full impact of the bypass and see the improvements and beautification of Nevada Highway (which will become Boulder City Parkway). Let’s not jump the gun on this advisory question since nothing would happen until well after the bypass opens, and we have time to gather more information.

For these reasons, I cannot support Ballot Question No. 2.

Have you reviewed the current proposed budget for the city? If so, what are your thoughts on city spending, in particular the suggestion to give $10 million to local schools over the next 10 years?

The budget is a critical document that I read very carefully every year. I served on the financial advisory committee in 2008 for the city before becoming a member of the City Council. As part of that committee, we developed a financial plan to get our city out of debt and back in financial shape after the economic recession of 2008.

The budget, together with the financial plan, has been my focus each year. I am proud that we have balanced the budget every year and added money to our general fund.

On the question of funding for our local school, we should not directly provide money for our schools. We need to hold the Clark County School District accountable for the money they give to Boulder City. This is critical, and my support is evident by getting funding to finish the high school.

At the same time, I believe we should lobby the state legislature to treat Boulder City schools as rural schools and provide increased per-pupil funding similar to other rural schools like Ely, Elko or Carson City. It should be noted that Boulder City already supports our schools by spending nearly $200,000 each year for the past couple years on the baseball/softball fields that are on city land, new restrooms and dugouts, and providing landscape services for the fields.

Do you feel the city is doing enough to preserve its historic heritage, and what do you feel would be the best approach?

The Historic Preservation Committee has done a great job promoting and encouraging the preservation of our historic heritage that we all love. I believe that we should not interfere with private property rights of the existing owners of historic homes and businesses in Boulder City. However, I do support enforcing guidelines that would apply to new owners moving in.

What lessons, if any, did you learn during the primary election and have they influenced your current campaign?

The biggest thing that I learned is that I need to get my message out to the voters. I love Boulder City, and we have loved raising our family here. My record is quite clear: The growth control ordinance works, and we have done some great things with the voters’ approval. Utility rates have gone up too fast and too much, and I am working to change that.

As your current councilman and as the only candidate with a full-time job, I wish I had more time to be standing at the credit union or walking door to door to talk to each resident. Realistically that is just not possible for me. However, I will be at the credit union when available on Fridays, and I will walk door to door most evenings from now until the election to talk to as many residents as possible.

If you have a question, and I’ve missed seeing you, please call me on my cell at 702-239-4479 or go to my webpage and review the issues section at www.votecamwalker.com.

John W. Milburn

■ Age: 74

■ Marital status: Married to Christine

■ Family: Children: Robert, Summer, Sean, Alicia; eight grandchildren and one great-grandson

■ Occupation: Retired physics and chemistry teacher; retired basketball and golf coach.

■ Club/organization affiliations: Boulder City Sunrise Rotarian; past president Boulder City Sunrise Rotary; Emergency Aid of Boulder City volunteer; Boulder City Men’s Golf Association.

■ Email or website for voters to contact you at: www.votejohnmilburn.com.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 1, which seeks to eliminate the 30 home per developer per year limit that is part of the controlled growth ordinance, while retaining the 120-home limit, and why?

I do not support raising the limit of 30 homes per developer per year. Prior to the recent proposal for residential development on voter-approved land, I was concerned this limit was a contributing factor for no growth. Now, with economic conditions improving in our city and a bid on the approved land, the limit of 30 homes per developer is working. Therefore, I am voting no on Ballot Question No. 1.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 2, which is an advisory question about adding an interchange to Interstate 11 at Buchanan Boulevard, and why?

I do not support Ballot Question No. 2 adding an interchange to Interstate I-11 at Buchanan Boulevard. The Boulder City Master Plan, with input from our citizens, recommended no interchange, and I agree.

We already have one interchange at I-11 and U.S. Highway 95 that can be available for commercial development. We do not need another at this time.

Have you reviewed the current proposed budget for the city? If so, what are your thoughts on city spending, in particular the suggestion to give $10 million to local schools over the next 10 years?

Our general fund revenue of $29.7 million for 2018 includes $8.5 million generated from solar and golf course leases. This additional source of revenue has enabled the city to recover from the economic downturn that started in 2008. Continuing to be fiscally conservative will enable Boulder City to remain sustainable in the future.

I would like to see a financial master plan that includes citizen input and prioritization of our capital improvements as revenue becomes available. Those issues that can primarily be solved by additional finances should be discussed to determine their importance to the citizens of Boulder City. Some examples of such issues are debt reduction, a new swimming pool and police and fire protection.

Over the past 50 years, Boulder City High School enrollment had increased from 400 students to 750 students. More recently, though, there has been a decrease to fewer than 600 students. Throughout these fluctuations in enrollment the high school has remained academically at the top or near the top of the Clark County school system.

The loss of three teachers for 2018 has been another distressing effect of the shift in student numbers. In the past, community involvement in kindergarten through 12th grade ensured our excellence whatever the enrollment, but, unfortunately today that is not enough. We lose many of our outstanding juniors and seniors to magnet schools and Nevada State College, where they earn college credits while attending high school classes. The snowball effect has caused teaching positions to be cut and, recently, the loss of our high school art teacher.

The suggestion of Boulder City giving money to the Clark County school system to continue programs and keep teaching positions will not work. This city already provides for and maintains two ball fields for our high school, which is the obligation of the Clark County School District, and we receive little in return.

There is a movement to work with our high school principal to assist teachers in becoming master certified. This would enable those qualified teachers to teach both high school and college credit courses. This could be accomplished by grants or philanthropy and would benefit our students. This is the beginning of trying to solve this worrisome problem in a unique way. This would allow our high school students to receive the very best education but also enjoy the Boulder City High School experience.

Do you feel the city is doing enough to preserve its historic heritage, and what do you feel would be the best approach?

I feel strongly about the preservation of our historical heritage. I am in favor of the present requirement that refers homeowners to the Historic Preservation Committee for suggestions to maintain historic standards. I am not in favor of those recommendations becoming a mandate for any homeowner.

What lessons, if any, did you learn during the primary election and have they influenced your current campaign?

After months of listening to a cross section of the community, I have learned we have an untapped resource. Retired citizens in our community have a wealth of knowledge and experience from former vocations/careers and, I believe, are underutilized. Many have shared that they would be willing and able to contribute in meaningful ways. Providing research, mentoring our younger students and utilizing their skills, specifically in science and mathematics, are just a few examples of ways they can contribute to make our community stronger.

I have also learned that on the pivotal issue of growth we are extraordinarily united. No one wants uncontrolled, hopscotch growth, and most want enough growth to keep us economically viable. I am optimistic about the future of Boulder City. Our solar leases have improved our financial outlook, the controlled growth ordinance is working, and we will soon be free of the incessant traffic.

We now have the opportunity to utilize our financial and intellectual resources to study and address issues such as the impact of Interstate 11 on local businesses; the effect of a declining school population on the quality and quantity of our high school curriculum; infrastructure decisions such as the 69 kV loop proposal and our antiquated utility structure; the establishment of a second grocery store to guarantee competitive pricing for our community; decisions on our aging swimming complex; and commercial leases beneficial to our community.

Kiernan McManus

■ Age: 59

■ Marital status: Single

■ Family: No children

■ Occupation: Information technology.

■ Club/organization affiliations: Vice chairman of Boulder City Historic Preservation Committee; Boulder City Elks Lodge

■ Email or website for voters to contact you at: McManusForCouncil@gmail.com, www.McManusForCouncil.com.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 1, which seeks to eliminate the 30 home per developer per year limit that is part of the controlled growth ordinance, while retaining the 120-home limit, and why?

Ballot Question No. 1 will make a drastic change to the current controlled growth ordinance that has served Boulder City well for 40 years. The purpose of the current code is to encourage competition among developers and avoid “cookie-cutter” developments. The changes proposed would potentially allow a single developer to obtain all 120 available permits within a 12 month period of time.

At this time, a major developer from Las Vegas has offered a bid for land approved for sale stating the current level of 30 homes per year is sufficient. The goal of our ordinance is to maintain conservative growth. That is also my goal, and I cannot support such a drastic change to the long-standing success of the ordinance. I will be voting no in order to retain the ordinance we have in place.

I also find it troubling how the proposed changes were voted on by our current City Council. The changes were not made public until being introduced at a recent council meeting. The changes differed substantially from the discussions held at a council meeting only two weeks earlier. The question was agreed by council to be advisory rather than an actual change. The changes discussed were to increase the current limit from 30 to 40 or 50 rather than complete removal. The process used does a disservice to our community when such drastic changes are not given the required public comment and discussion period.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 2, which is an advisory question about adding an interchange to Interstate 11 at Buchanan Boulevard, and why?

The construction of a full-service interchange at Buchanan Boulevard and the I-11 was discussed in depth during the design of the bypass and was rejected as undesirable. An interchange is being built there to allow access for fire and police vehicles to more quickly respond in case of emergency.

The cost of constructing a full-service interchange is estimated to be $20 million or more and would take years to construct after the completion of the bypass. Our city would also be responsible for additional improvements to connect the interchange to the lower section of Buchanan Boulevard.

While this question is advisory and does not require the interchange be built, I believe the cost of the project, the disruption of existing residential and recreational developments and the minimal travel time saving is not justified. The completion of the bypass is scheduled for the first half of 2018. There are several other projects already planned to attract travelers to our existing businesses when the bypass is completed.

Until more is known about the impact the I-11 project will have, I believe the previous decision to not construct a full-service interchange should stand. I do not support this project at this time and will be voting no on the question.

Have you reviewed the current proposed budget for the city? If so, what are your thoughts on city spending, in particular the suggestion to give $10 million to local schools over the next 10 years?

I have reviewed the current proposed budget and attended workshops where the budget was discussed. It is reassuring to know the financial status of our city is again on solid ground. Following the Great Recession revenue has increased from a low of $48 million to more than $61 million. Our utility fund has total reserves of $22 million.

New solar leases will add additional money in the next year. City staff is recommending adding new personnel, and projects are underway to improve our aging infrastructure.

While these are all signs of a healthy city, the substantial increases in utility rates recently approved by City Council appear to be excessive. Additional increases in utility rates were also approved for the next few years. Revenue from solar leases and land sales designated for the capital improvement fund is being redirected to payment of utility projects after the council encouraged passage of a ballot question in 2016.

Projects such as the municipal pool and improving city buildings are often financed from the capital improvement fund. The capital improvement fund is being depleted while the utility fund surplus continues to grow. I would work to correct these imbalances.

Our local schools are funded by taxes collected at the state and county levels and distributed through the Clark County School District based on the number of students enrolled at each school. These are taxes we already pay.

Our local schools are being affected by the lingering impact of the Great Recession, when young families lost their homes in Boulder City and moved away. Recent changes to allow more choices to students have resulted in students attending schools in Henderson and Las Vegas. These changes have resulted in lower enrollment at our local schools and lower funding. The current enrollments are barely below levels needed to retain three teachers and staff at the high school.

There are some positive changes occurring to address the lower enrollments. Our local school administrators have more flexibility in making decisions directly affecting their staff and students. They have made personnel changes to minimize the impact on students. Efforts are being made to offer some classes here that currently draw students to schools outside Boulder City to increase local enrollment.

The Mitchell Elementary School principal has found the number of children enrolling in kindergarten this fall might well increase and require the addition of a new teacher.

Our State Legislature is currently debating the use of existing tax dollars to fund private schools or use the money for existing needs in our public schools. Changes by the Legislature could also be made to recognize the needs of smaller schools as is already done in other communities in the state.

Another factor is the approval of plans by City Council to build upward of 300 new homes in the near future that will bring hundreds of new residents.

There are efforts our city can undertake to help our local schools during this time of recovery and expanded school choice. Our parks and recreation department already offers art classes that could be enhanced. There are discussions to reach out to the community for volunteers and increase fundraising.

While I believe these and other efforts need to be pursued, the payment of $1 million dollars each year is not wise for the long term and might not be needed. The funding of schools is the responsibility of higher levels of government.

I will work to encourage adequate funding from the state that recognizes local circumstances as well as enhancing the activities our city already provides to our children.

Do you feel the city is doing enough to preserve its historic heritage, and what do you feel would be the best approach?

Our city rightfully prides itself on its history as a unique community. The history of the efforts to construct the engineering wonder of the world known as Hoover Dam is used by many of our business to attract customers. The project continues to benefit us as the Bureau of Reclamation remains our largest employer.

Unfortunately, city leaders have not always recognized the need to preserve our history for future generations. Buildings on the National Historic Register or with significant importance to our history have been allowed to deteriorate or be demolished. While at the same time, significant efforts have been made to restore the Boulder Dam Hotel and the Boulder Theatre.

Not every building or piece of history can be preserved. But experience has shown when there is no effort to identify buildings that are important to our history, then deterioration and neglect result. When public and private efforts have come together to preserve our history, we have landmarks we cherish and improve our existing businesses. Property values are maintained and improve. Our small town atmosphere is enhanced for us and our visitors.

I have been working for a year on the City Historic Preservation Committee to identify processes where preservation efforts can help in these efforts. Las Vegas is known as the city that implodes buildings on a regular basis. At the same time Vegas has worked diligently to preserve its history. We should look to Las Vegas and other cities that are preserving their history while moving toward our own unique future.

What lessons, if any, did you learn during the primary election and have they influenced your current campaign?

The clearest message I have heard from the citizens is their desire to maintain our small-town atmosphere. That is my first priority. Maintaining our conservative growth has been successful for 40 years and continues to be as evidenced by our strong financial position.

There is apprehension about the effects the I-11 project will have on our community. Boulder City was not immune to the Great Recession, and the recovery is still in progress. But we are progressing and improving, and we have assets such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the solar energy zone that no other city can claim.

The second clearest message I have heard and share is the desire for citizens to have a real voice in our local government. We want an open and transparent government that serves residents. There are challenges ahead, but we have a community spirit not easily found. I will work to protect and promote our community.

Warren Harhay

■ Age: 73

■ Marital status: Celebrating 50 years of marriage with Marcia Harhay on June 24, 2017.

■ Family: Three sons: Matthew, Marshall, Mitchell; four grandchildren: Annison, Andy, Lilly, Brad.

■ Occupation: Retired research and development; electrical engineer.

■ Club/organization affiliations: Boulder City Sunrise Rotary, Boulder City Chamber of Commerce.

■ Contact: wch@eva.net, www.harhay4bc.com.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 1, which seeks to eliminate the 30 home per developer per year limit that is part of the controlled growth ordinance, while retaining the 120-home limit, and why?

I am against changing the ordinance. I will vote no on Ballot Question No. 1

I do not believe the ordinance needs to be modified. It has served us well in keeping the small-town character of Boulder city from being destroyed by rampant development over the years, which was its intent. The removal of the 30-home development limit would encourage the creation of a sole-source developer. This developer could take the full available allocation, which would stymie potential competition.

Furthermore, a developer has presently demonstrated an interest in building within the limits of our current controlled growth ordinance that is now in effect.

What is your position on Ballot Question No. 2, which is an advisory question about adding an interchange to Interstate 11 at Buchanan Boulevard, and why?

I take no position on this ballot question as there is presently no data upon which to make an informed decision or a rational recommendation. In my opinion the timing of this question is premature and would be best asked once again six months after the bypass is in operation when the actual impact will better known and data available.

Have you reviewed the current proposed budget for the city? If so, what are your thoughts on city spending, in particular the suggestion to give $10 million to local schools over the next 10 years?

Yes, I attended the council budget workshop and have met with the finance director regarding the proposed budget. I have read, printed and bound a copy of the budget for ease of reference, discussion and sharing.

That suggestion is heartfelt but wrongheaded. The Clark County School District is a separate governmental entity with its own taxing authority and administration. The city charter does not define or assign any responsibility to City Council for school financing or administration.

Boulder City has supported its schools with a variety of fundraisers and programs by groups such as Rotary and Elks. I encourage the community to support their schools by participation in their PTA and the Community Education Advisory Board and the efforts of our nongovernmental entities.

I believe that a cavalier attitude has existed toward the expenditure of city funds, especially regarding the solar leases. The impression left is that “money is falling from the sky” rather than adopting a more prudent and conservative approach to use of these funds.

Revenue funds should be prioritized for our long-neglected infrastructure requirements. Fix what we have first.

Do you feel the city is doing enough to preserve its historic heritage, and what do you feel would be the best approach?

No. More stringent controls with actual enforcement options regarding commercial development within the historic district and on historic buildings. Performance bond requirements to complete projects or return them to their original state, i.e. Mel’s Diner project. Pursue and adopt measures to encourage the return of abandoned and shuttered properties to full commercial usage, i.e. Scratch House.

Although not in the historic district, explore similar programs and actions to property such as Vons/Haggen.

More open dialogue with citizens on future city plans to dispose of city property within the historic district, i.e. water plant, allowing for all options to be fully explored for community management and usage prior to disposal/sale for private development.

What lessons, if any, did you learn during the primary election and have they influenced your current campaign?

There is much misinformation and lack of information on many of the issues. Many people have lost trust in their local government.

Incautious remarks made by some passionate supporters do not reflect my views. My course of action has always been to inform rather than inflame. Being critical does not necessarily mean being negative.

At each of my comments at City Council or the Planning Commission or in my published essays, I have offered positive suggestions along with analytical and critical observations. The challenge of government is balancing the needs of the many with the wants of the few. This means that you cannot please everyone every time.

Consistency is a form of integrity. My campaign has been an exercise in the practice of politics unusual. No fundraising without any outside contributors or patrons means that I could conduct my campaign true to myself, a politician who isn’t.

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