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Candidates share vision for city, council

Updated May 20, 2021 - 9:28 am

Local residents will be asked to select a new City Council member and weigh in on several ballot questions regarding financing options for a new pool during the June 15 general election.

Cokie Booth and Mathew Fox, who came in second and third, respectively, in April’s primary with 1,376 and 1,182 votes, will vie in the council race.

Sherri Jorgensen, who received 2,227 votes in the primary, was elected to office after receiving a majority among the number of voters participating in the election.

She and the winner of the general election will be sworn into office July 13.

Early voting for the general election begins June 3 and continues through June 11. On election day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at King Elementary School, 888 Adams Blvd., and the city’s recreation center, 900 Arizona St.

As with the primary, results of the election will remain unofficial for about a week as any additional mail-in ballots are counted.

To help voters make an informed decision, the Boulder City Review asked Booth and Fox several questions.

Their answers, featured below, are in their own words. They have been edited only for grammar, spelling and style.

Additionally, they were invited to answer other questions in video interviews; Fox was unable to schedule a time for a video interview

Mathew Fox

Age: 35

Marital status: Married

Family: My wife, Kelly, and my three boys: James (15) Jacob (13) and Joseph (10)

Occupation: Fox Smokehouse Bakery

Length of Boulder City residency: 2½ years but spent my summers here growing up

Previous experience serving Boulder City (appointed, elected or volunteer positions): Serving Boulder City as a business operator and employing almost 50 local residents. Sponsorships with Boulder City sports and other events in town.

Previous experience serving other governmental agencies (appointed, elected or volunteer positions): None

Club/organization affiliations: None.

What is your vision for Boulder City?

My vision for Boulder City would be our town flourishing with tourism, more attractions and amenities for everyone. Residents and the city working together to secure a better future without sacrificing the rich history and small-town charm.

What, if anything, would you like to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

I want to build strong relations with all city staff, council and the mayor. Each person has a different personality and I want to bring us all together to find solutions without compromise.

What is your opinion of community groups and organizations’ involvement and influence on local politics?

You have to make sure that the groups’/organizations’ influence is for the betterment of Boulder City and not them.

What, if anything, do you think the current council did successfully? And what, if anything, do you think they did that was less successful?

We all know that their job is extremely difficult, it’s hard to say what was wrong or right. What we can do is try our best to educate the residents on why the decision was made the way it was.

Cokie Booth

Age: 75

Marital status: Married

Family: Married to Les Booth

Education: Associate degree

Occupation: Broker

Length of Boulder City residency: 36 years

Previous experience serving Boulder City (appointed, elected or volunteer positions): Community information television show; Dump the Dump; Boulder City Planning Commission, 2006-2019; Spring Jamboree, Bark in the Park host.

Previous experience serving other governmental agencies (appointed, elected or volunteer positions): Nevada State Board of Cosmetology, eight years; Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors; Tuscany Retreat Homeowners Association, president.

Club/organization affiliations: Boulder City Community Club, president 2019-2021; Boys and Girls Club; Central Christian Church.

Honors/awards/special qualifications: Boys and Girls Club Woman of the year, 1999-2000.

What is your vision for Boulder City?

To retain the beauty and historic charm of Boulder City, seek opportunities to advance our local businesses, increase the quality of life for all residents including the young at heart, and to bring unity to its residents through inclusion and dialog. It’s been my passion and commitment to the community through my continuous engagement for 36 years. I have learned a lot while serving the city of Boulder City and the state of Nevada for a combined total of 21 years.

I will accomplish the above by standing firm to our growth ordinance, city charter, having a questioning attitude for including of all residents, setting a high level of expectation for our elected leaders and how they conduct themselves, conduct my due diligence before council meetings, reach out to our community experts, the Nevada League of Cities, other municipalities and professional organizations to ensure the best decision making for all residents, and share my knowledge and expertise of public meetings, processes, committees, laws and ordinances with current council members.

I will seek compromise when necessary, stand my ground when needed, and bring my extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise to provide better decision making of the current City Council, and to move us in a new direction that includes all residents.

What, if anything, would you like to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

1. Enactment of ethical standards for the City Council. We have them for city employees although not the City Council. The City Council should conduct business based on a set of ethical standards to represent all Boulder City residents, not just special interest groups.

The last two years have been very polarizing and unequal in representation. When I was appointed to the state of Nevada Cosmetology Board, it was one of the first things I worked on through collaboration with other committee and legislative members. We need this.

2. Transparency of Boulder City committee and commission members including ad hoc committees. Boulder City residents should feel comfortable knowing the individual members of our committees and commissions are making sound decisions and recommendations to the City Council based on their expertise from current or previous work experience in a given field. Our city website does not list the members and it should for transparency.

We should seek nonpartisan members that represent all sides. It makes for a better understanding of the issues before the committee, from all sides, including research of the issue, and compromise that has taken place with their recommendations to the City Council. The residents can have confidence that all sides have reviewed the issue equally. It creates a win/win for the City Council and the residents through equal representation and better decision making.

We should have a standard seeking an equal number of residents, those with demonstrated expertise or connected in a field, and business representation.

What is your opinion of community groups and organizations’ involvement and influence on local politics?

I did a lot of research on this topic. According to a study from Pew Research in 2016, 62 percent of people receive their news from social media sites. Social media site moderators today are the nightly news anchors and reporters of the past. In Boulder City, we have experienced this trend since 2016, and most notably in 2019, the appointments of 2020, and now the 2021 election. Nationally the trend has been evolving since 2010.

Fake, false and misleading news travels six to 10 times farther than the truth. There’s an element of emotional writing from the poster embedded in the fake, false and misleading post information. It can create an actionable reaction from the readers that send it circling the social media pages.

Why do they do it? According to current research, there are many reasons. What do they all have in common? They never include verifiable sources from where the information came from and they never reach out to the individual to verify if the information is true. I have been a victim of that during this election.

The worst part, they package it all up and then send it out in an email campaign to others. Unfortunately, there are no enforceable ethical standards for Facebook moderators for content either posted by them or how they elect to moderate others. When it comes to the enforcement of a Facebook page for posted content or harassment policies of the group, they are the sole decision makers.

Moderators locally, although not all, follow the national trend by posting assumptive arguments driven by misinformation posted as fact. They conform to the narrative that benefits the social media page moderators. During elections, including this election, they push their candidate forward based on their attack posts toward other candidates.

Another similarity: They do not apply a questioning attitude equally to all candidates. That’s a huge problem.

How has social media impacted our local elections? Here’s an example; in the recent years of BCCA (Boulder City Community Alliance), I have never seen the moderators respond with a questioning attitude equally to all candidates when questions arise of their candidate. They brutally attack and bully other candidates repeatedly to advance their candidate. They never address possible infractions brought forth by other members of their page in regards to their candidate. They simply ignore the post, and if the posting continues, the person will face an onslaught of attacks, and then be quietly removed from the page.

Campaign sign placement, campaign expense reporting and statements including what other family members do for a living made by a candidate are only relevant to the other candidate and not their own. They turn a blind eye. All the while, the moderators of these social media sites promote that they provide an equal platform for all candidates. Each candidate they have endorsed in recent years has either been a long-standing member of BCCA or appointed by a long-standing member. That’s not by chance.

What does the support of BCCA moderators come with? That’s the gift that keeps on giving for as long as you are elected. Their candidate is beholden to them and what they want to accomplish. I am not willing to compromise my judgment on the City Council by embracing those moderators. It’s not worth the votes.

Puffing on social media groups here is another example where national politics has hit home to local social media activities. I am aware of two Boulder City Facebook pages that endorse a candidate(s). Yet, there’s no data that that supports the endorsement (represents) that they present to all members of their groups. Don’t you think they would have a survey question on their page asking all members which candidate they should endorse? You won’t find it.

Maybe a small group meeting between themselves presenting a BCCA member or an administrator of another social media page that posts both as himself and as the administrator, but not of the entire community members. It (is) called puffing and it is very misleading to the entire community. The actual support for a candidate of the purported 1,500 community page members is never disclosed. It’s puffed (assumed) that it is larger than it actually is by the other community page members.

The moderators will throw around the figure of 1,500 members of support, although it’s not 1,500, that’s certain. Maybe 40 or 3 percent of the total members more or less?

In Boulder City, we seem to be following a trend that started nationally on social media with very few exceptions. What is disappointing to me is how people treat others on social media, how they bully others, the false information they spread on their pages and through their email campaigns, how it negatively affects people’s lives, and what happens when those people are elected to office through those efforts.

My belief is that candidates and the moderators that support them should bring integrity and fairness to the table so voters can make an educated decision in the voting booth. The rest of it doesn’t bother me. I am a strong woman, I can take the punches, and I got this.

I work hard campaigning and I have already held many campaign events. I will continue to hold many more campaign events. The days are long and while they may be too exhausting for some. The importance of representing all members of the community is extremely important to me. You cannot do that without in-person feedback on their concerns and questions. Having questions asked, asking questions of residents so I can listen and communicate, are what makes my campaign inclusive of all Boulder City residents and unique this campaign cycle.

You will never have to ask me where have I been or for me to tell you to just flag me down when I drive by. The same work ethics and commitment that I show during campaigning is what I will bring to the City Council as your elected councilwoman. It is who I am. I am here for you now, and I am going to be there for you every step of the way as your elected councilwoman.

What, if anything, do you think the current council did successfully? And what, if anything, do you think they did that was less successful?

Successes: They were able to get the swimming pool question on the ballot.

Less successful: The City Council has made egregious missteps that have substantially increased active lawsuits and threats of lawsuits equating to the excessive use of taxpayer dollars in the amount of $250,000 for just attorney phone calls to defend the lawsuits. And, that’s not the final cost. That figure will be significantly higher and possibly in the millions.

While the City Council justified the terminations and rebuffed resident’s concerns of litigation and possible costly legal expenses, the City Council stated that Nevada is a “right to work” state as justification to fire anyone, for any reason. “Don’t worry, it’s all good.” The fact that these employment cases remain in the legal system should tell you otherwise.

1. Any judge would have thrown out the lawsuits filed by the two previous employees — with potential for a third — with a quick smack of his gavel if right to work was what the council believed and told the residents of Boulder City it was. Right to work and just cause are both required to terminate an employee in most cases. The City Council’s false belief of right to work failed to understand that if you have a contract or are a protected work group over the age of 40, you also need just cause.

2. What was the litigation cost and outcome analyses by our insurance carrier prior to moving forward with the terminated employees’ court cases?

3. Did we follow their direction, or are we now, or shortly, under review by our insurance carrier for increased insurance premiums or outright cancellation of the policy? Time will tell after the final payouts are completed whether our insurance premiums will increase or cancellation will occur.

Could the lawsuits have been avoided? Yes. Just cause could have been proven if the employees were placed on performance improvement plans, provided necessary training and re-evaluated after any stipulation of an employment contract with a six-month moratorium of termination following an election. Failure of improvement after a performance improvement plan by the employee would create just cause for termination. Whether inexperience, haste, personal vendettas or a combination, it’s the taxpayers that will ultimately carry the burden of their actions.

The City Council’s absolute belief of right to work could have been avoided through due diligence and communication with our insurance carrier, other municipalities and the Nevada League of Cities that we are already a member of. There’s no City Council public record of any due diligence that included those above other than that of attorneys that financially benefit from the City Council’s actions.

The airport, termination of employees and recently the threat of a lawsuit by a (Redevelopment Agency) applicant are a pattern of less than successes by our current City Council members and they have led to a tremendous financial burden on the taxpayers.

Of the current seated council members, four out of five have had no or little prior experience before holding office. I can make a difference for the residents of Boulder City as your elected councilwoman. I have the knowledge, experience, expertise and I am ready on day one.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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