City Council candidates share views on issues, meet with residents at forum

At the candidates forum on Tuesday, residents were able to hear from and weigh in on all eight City Council candidates’ stances on issues facing Boulder City.

“I enjoyed hearing everyone’s different take on the same question,” said resident Tsvetelina Stefanova. “It shed some light on the candidates and who did their research and are proactive with what they want to do.”

Stefanova came to the forum at the Elaine K. Smith Center because she wanted to hear what the candidates had to say in a controlled environment.

Other residents simply came to learn about candidates.

“I came to see what everybody had to say, and I liked much of what I heard,” said resident Linda Faiss.

“I liked that everybody was so civil to each other,” she added. “There were no outbursts. They seemed to respect each other and were well-intentioned.”

“I learned a lot because some of them did their homework with the history of the town,” said another resident Lettie Zimmerman. “It gives me a lot to think about with getting ready to vote.”

Prepared questions

Questions for the forum were submitted by the public, several of which were then randomly drawn by attendees before the event started. Each candidate had been given the entire list of questions previously, and had three minutes to answer each asked question.

One question asked was whether candidates supported the controlled growth ordinance, which allows 120 homes to be built per year with 30 allowed per developer. Most candidates did support it, but others felt that it had a negative effect on the city.

“It has controlled our growth,” said candidate Fritz McDonald. “It’s been wonderful. But it has had an unintended consequence. It’s no growth, not controlled growth.”

McDonald said there were nine building permits issued in 2016.

“I would be willing to explore ways to get more than nine permits,” he said.

“It works very well,” said incumbent City Councilman Cam Walker of the ordinance.

Despite supporting it, Walker said a problem with it is that is has limited the land portfolio in Boulder City. He said the city needs to look at broadening its land portfolio, so it can hit the average of 32 homes being built per year by a developer.

Rich Loudin supports the ordinance as is and believes it is what has kept Boulder City family friendly.

“It’s worked very well for this community,” he said. “I am totally in love with this town … I think the process has worked very well.”

Need for arts

“I heard a lot of talk about the need here for young people,” said resident James Adams after the forum. “As a young person, we need to hear more of how to make that happen.”

Rather than focusing on growth, Adams believes the city should market the arts and music scene to bring people in.

“I would like to see more focus on that and make sure that isn’t harmed,” he said. “I like it being a small town but not a sleepy town.”

Another question dealt with the declining local school enrollment and what the city’s role should be in it.

The overall consensus of the candidates was it is not the city’s job to be involved in the school, rather it should focus on making the city a good place for the school.

“I realize the reason our schools are so good is because of the community,” said former mayor and councilman Eric Lundgaard.

Top school

Candidate John Milburn, who taught at Boulder City High School, commended the community for helping create a good school for the people here.

“What makes a good school are the parents and the students,” he said. “It’s easy to be a good teacher at Boulder City High School.”

Candidate Warren Harhay, who is a former high school teacher, does not believe the declining school enrollment is an issue.

“I kind of object in creating a crisis when one doesn’t really exist,” he said.

He added that Boulder City High School has been named one of the top Nevada high schools by U.S. News &World Report.

“I don’t feel the city should do anything,” said candidate James Stuckey. “If there’s nothing wrong, school enrollment will fluctuate. As long as our schools are top in the state, we’re OK.”

Candidate Kiernan McManus said he was not really concerned with school enrollment because there are options outside of the district.

“It’s true we’ve had a decline with school-age kids,” he said. “But the number of kids under 5 years old is increasing. I think the decline is a result of the recession.

“I think we are starting to see those families come back now,” he added.

Before the evening ended, candidates met with residents one-on-one at individual stations set up in advance. There, residents took advantage of asking about issues not discussed earlier or get specific questions answered.

Voter will be able to weigh in on these candidates at the local primary election on April 4.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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