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Candid council

With two vacancies to fill in the upcoming election, three candidates decided to throw their names in the ring for City Council.

Term limits prevented Mayor Roger Tobler from seeking re-election, and current Councilman Rod Woodbury was declared mayor in February after being the only candidate to run for the position during the weeklong filing period that ran from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5.

Woodbury will take over at a crucial juncture in the city’s history as construction on Interstate 11 is set to begin shortly before he takes office.

The Boulder City Review sat down with all three City Council candidates to gauge a better perspective on how they would best serve the community if elected.

Early voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 20 and 21, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 22 and 23 in the council chambers at City Hall, 401 California Ave. The General Election will be held June 2.

Linda Graham

After failing to win a seat on the City Council four years ago, Linda Graham is giving it another go.

Graham moved to Boulder City in 2009 with her husband, David Graham, who is the minister at Grace Community Church. Graham currently serves as president of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Women’s Association at Grace Community Church, and the Community Club.

She also serves on the city’s Allotment and Historic Preservation committees.

Though she doesn’t have a college degree, Graham previously served on the East Peoria School Board in Illinois from 1992 to 1998, and served on the advisory committee for the Goleta Water District in California.

During her time in Illinois, Graham said she received advice from Rep. Robert Michel, R-Ill., while working on his campaign.

She and her husband have four children, and 14 grandchildren.

Why are you running for a seat on the City Council?

If I had not run, the election would not even have existed. It would have been a shoe-in for two candidates to fill in two seats, so I was aware of the situation. My husband and I talked about it and decided that if nobody else jumped in, then I would.

I was doing this to make sure there was an election. I didn’t feel it was fair for the residents of the city to have to be pushed on to just two candidates. We’ll see what the ballot box decides.

Why are you qualified for the position?

I’m a team player. I get along with people; I have good listening skills; I’m very caring; and I’m hardworking. I think that qualifies me.

If elected, which unique qualities would you bring to the City Council?

Being another woman. Right now the council itself has several men and only one woman. I think they need two to kind of balance it out. Women think differently, so I think that would help give them some input from another point of view.

What type of effect do you think Interstate 11 will have on Boulder City?

I talked to a business owner, and she told me that her business is divided into 90 percent. Thirty percent local trade, 30 percent from tourists from all over the world, and 30 percent that are just coming for the day. Her concern was that the bypass isn’t going to have enough exits. She feels there should be one more exit.

But I think it’s going to be a dream come true. There have been times when I can’t get across Nevada Highway. It’s just jam packed. I might wait there for about five minutes until somebody lets me in.

I think we’re all going to be a lot happier. If the businesses promote themselves and they do advertising in the local area, I think they’ll do just fine. They’re probably going to have to get a little more creative, but these are smart people. They don’t want their businesses to go down.

What are your thoughts about unmanned aerial vehicles being tested in the area around Boulder City?

I think it’s great. We have a lot of space here, so I think it’s perfectly fine. If it brings jobs then, the more the better.

Mayor-elect Rod Woodbury has said he would like to look outside of solar leases as a way of bringing in additional revenue into Boulder City. Thoughts?

It will be interesting to see what he has in mind. We haven’t seen him in office yet, so we haven’t heard, but I was thinking about that more carefully. It would have to be way out there, because I don’t think our residents would want to see large warehouses. We like the charm of downtown.

I could see something like that happening. Maybe we could put them across the freeway from where the solar plants are.

Do you have a certain capital improvement project you’d like to see get done?

I did have a resident come to me and say, ‘Linda. I ride my bike all over town.’ He says he’s noticed potholes, some of them quite large that would be dangerous if a bicycle tire was to hit it. I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s time to reassess streets and roads, and see what actually needs to be done. Start repaving the streets.

Maybe it’s something they’ve overlooked. I think those are important, especially when you’re looking at a budget. Infrastructure would be my priority.

What are some of the major issues Boulder City faces in the near and distant future?

I think the major issue, as you know, is that we’re getting a bypass. The traffic has been a real problem. It’s been unbelievable the past couple of years, so I’m really happy to see the bypass go in because it’s going to get rid of a lot of those big trucks.

The Chamber of Commerce has a program they work with called A Day Away (A World Away for a Day). The chamber CEO said A Day Away is actually a paid consultant. If they could continue to work on that A Day Away with the surrounding area, I think that could have a major impact on how many visitors we get.

I’ve heard from my friends in Henderson say, ‘Oh we love to go to Boulder City.’ It’s a neat time to just relax and get away. I think it’s going to be OK.

Rich Shuman

Rich Shuman has lived in Boulder City for the past 18 years. His grandparents moved to Boulder City in 1955, and he lived in town for the first four years of his life before his family moved to Massachusetts.

Though he spent his youth in New England, Shuman said he spent every summer in Boulder City. He currently serves on the city’s Planning Commission, as well as the Boulder City and Henderson Chambers of Commerce.

His four children are the fifth-generation of Shumans to live in town, something he takes great pride in.

Shuman attended Georgia Southern University for two years, and another two years at UNLV. Though he doesn’t have a college degree, he’s established a career in real estate. As a local business owner, Shuman said he loves being involved in the community.

He assists as a Little League coach for his kids, and he and wife, Keri, enjoy fishing, spending time at Lake Mead and playing sports.

Why are you running for a seat on the City Council?

Out of a sense of pride for my community. I am very proud to be a resident of Boulder City and to be raising my family here. I’m very interested in the future, and I’m invested in Boulder City. I’m a business owner and parent of four children, so the future is important to me; so is preserving the quality of life we have in Boulder City.

Part of it is a sense of gratitude and a sense of serving a town that really has served me and my family for many years.

Why are you qualified for the position?

The most obvious one would probably be my last few years on the Planning Commission. We’ve been involved with all sorts of different planning issues and city issues, which is a direct correlation to what the City Council does. It really helped pave the way for me to want to run for City Council.

Beyond that, I have 18 years in commercial real estate and residential real estate, which has put me in touch with a lot of residents and business owners over the years. I’ve been involved with other municipalities around Las Vegas and Henderson for many years, which has given me some background in the processes that go on in city government.

I also have a lot of knowledge as to what’s going on around Boulder City. I read everything that I can. I’m very interested in attending every meeting I can and talking to everyone I get a chance to.

If elected, which unique qualities would you bring to the City Council?

I’m well-informed, I’m very knowledgeable, and I’m genuinely interested in serving. I’m also very accessible to the public. As a local business owner and a youth sports coach, I’m here all the time. I live and work in Boulder City, and I intend to keep that going.

Being informed makes me a unique candidate. I feel like the awareness I have of the issues, and the time I’ve spent reading budgets and meeting agendas at past City Council meetings has really helped. I’ve really been kind of a student of the City Council for many years now.

What type of effect do you think Interstate 11 will have on Boulder City?

I like it, and I want to stay very optimistic on it. I want to embrace it.

It’s how we adapt to it, and there’s a possibility that it brings a lot more traffic through this region of the country, which in turn will give many more people the option to come to Boulder City.

We have to pay close attention to traffic patterns and signage, accessibility, and even beyond just the physical nature of I-11 and its relationship to Boulder City.

As long as we stay a destination, as long as we stay relevant, and as long as we stay an exciting place to visit, I think it could, and should be very, very positive.

What are your thoughts about unmanned aerial vehicles being tested in the area around Boulder City?

I’m for them, with the notion that as long as we’re protecting our citizens’ privacy. In all my studies, I’ve thought that they’re going to be very respectful of our privacy, and they’re not bringing these drones here to spy on the public.

They’re bringing them here to test new technology. I think it’s very innovative, and I think it’s definitely a wave of the future and something we should embrace.

Mayor-elect Rod Woodbury has said he would like to look outside of solar leases as a way of bringing in additional revenue into Boulder City. Thoughts?

I think the Eldorado Valley is a wonderful resource. Any sorts of alternative energy, the UAVs … I think absolutely we should look outside of solar for our revenue sources.

There’s no reason to just stick with solar. Let’s listen to all the ideas and let’s do some great things out there.

Do you have a certain capital improvement project you’d like to see get done?

There are buildings in town that are underutilized. The Smith Center, the L.A. Water &Power Building, and other various properties around town are either underutilized, vacant or not being used at all. Let’s do something with those vacant properties. Let’s put them to use.

That’s what’s been wonderful about this City Council campaign is just talking to people and hearing what they want to do with the Smith Center building or some other piece of land. We have some smart people in Boulder City, people who have been here a lot longer than I have, and they really have some good ideas.

But the big one is the utility infrastructure. To have any sort of controlled growth in Boulder City, we’re going to need to address an aging utility infrastructure. It’s not the most flashy or fun project around, but it’s absolutely a necessity, and how we fund that is an important task.

What are some of the major issues Boulder City faces in the near and distant future?

I know we’re going to talk about I-11, but with that comes controlling our growth, preserving our quality of life, and fiscal responsibility. I’m very proud to see we’ve paid off the golf course debt because it’s a huge accomplishment.

If I’m lucky enough to win, I’m coming into office at a fiscal time where we’re out of a lot of debt. We have big changes on the horizon with this I-11, and we need to embrace those changes while still keeping what this town’s always been. That will prove to be tricky, and there will be plenty of opportunity to affect that if I’m on the City Council.

Peggy Leavitt

Peggy Leavitt is the lone incumbent running for re-election in this year’s race. In addition to sitting on the City Council, she serves on several boards, including those for the Senior Center of Boulder City, Lend A Hand, Nevada League of Cities, Friends of the Arts and Workforce Connections.

In the 2011 election, Leavitt received 2,449 votes, second only to fellow Councilman Rod Woodbury. Leavitt grew up in Wyoming and completed her undergraduate studies in sociology from the University of Wyoming in 1970.

She came to Southern Nevada in 1972 and worked as a social worker at the Southern Nevada Children’s Home in Boulder City. She earned her master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from UNLV in 1982.

Leavitt and her husband, Charlie, have four children and 10 grandchildren. She said she enjoys reading and seeing Broadway shows.

Why are you running for a seat on the City Council again?

I think it simply comes down to continuing to want to serve this community that I love. I’ve thought a lot about what’s happening now and what’s going to be happening in the next four years. I think it’s a very important time in the future of our town.

Important decisions are going to be made, and I believe that I have a proven record of making a positive impact on the council.

Why are you qualified for the position?

Having the experience enables me. I’ve been through that learning curve that you have to go through when you get on the council, so I do think that is an advantage. But prior to getting on the council, I served in a management position for two different organizations for about 20 years.

When I was at the children’s home, that was a state agency. I helped to formulate and develop budgets, and I’d go to the legislature and defend my budget.

When I worked for Childhaven, it was a much bigger program. I had 70 full-time staff, and I was supervising about 150 people. It was a shelter for abused and neglected children, so children were in and out, and over the course of a year, we would service as many as 3,000 children.

If re-elected, which unique qualities would you bring to the City Council?

As a leader, I can help mediate situations that could potentially be explosive. I’ve learned how to look at both sides of a situation and help people come to a positive resolution.

My leadership style, I would say, is that I try to be a consensus builder. I’ve always had this philosophy that the people who are doing the job know the best solutions to solve problems.

Also, I try to do my own research. I’m not a knee-jerk decision maker. I try to make a very thoughtful, informed decision about the things that I have to do. I try to make myself open and accessible, and I’ve tried to do that as a council member.

I think it’s so important that people feel that you’ll listen to them, and that their opinions have value.

What type of effect do you think Interstate 11 will have on Boulder City?

It’s obviously on everybody’s mind. There are some good side effects of I-11, because right now, on the weekends particularly, it’s so congested when you’re trying to get in and out of Boulder City. I think it will be a great benefit to our city not to have all that congestion.

But not having the traffic presents another challenge, and that’s how it will impact our businesses. This is something that as a council, the chamber, and the Economic Vitality Commission, we’ve been looking at for the last two years … meeting with the businesses, so that we can predict as best we’re able, the impact that the traffic will have on our businesses.

There is an impact study being done right now that should give us hard numbers so that we can more than guess at how it’s going to affect us. I don’t know that it (I-11) will have as much impact on the downtown area as it will on the outskirts of town, but those kinds of things need to be determined.

It’s important for the city and the chamber to market Boulder City as a destination. There are so many things about Boulder City that you can market.

What are your thoughts about unmanned aerial vehicles being tested in the area around Boulder City?

I think there’s great potential there. Gov. (Brian) Sandoval said that it has the potential to be as big as mining. Well, statewide, that’s 15,000 jobs. Boulder City would be a little piece of that pie, but we have the potential to have jobs and revenue.

I think it would be like the solar industry where we’d get revenue, and it wouldn’t have a huge impact on our population.

We all love this town because it is small and intimate, and we don’t want to lose that small-town feel, but we also have to consider that we need revenue to keep our city going.

Mayor-elect Rod Woodbury has said he would like to look outside of solar leases as a way of bringing in additional revenue into Boulder City. Thoughts?

I think it’s a challenge in regard to what I just said. I go to different meetings in other municipalities in Clark County and when they’re talking about bringing in industries, they’re talking about bringing in a lot of people. We have to consider that in Boulder City.

We need revenue, but we don’t want to grow our town. That’s why the solar leases were such a genius idea.

The land around the (I-11) interchange in our Land Management Plan, it’s perfect for hub distribution centers. There’s a lot of land out there that has the potential to bring in revenue without growing our population. It’s a unique problem to have.

Do you have a certain capital improvement project you’d like to see done?

Because we did pay off that golf course debt, we can start addressing the electrical utilities. The city has done a great job of prioritizing all of our capital improvement needs and because this money has been freed up, we can start addressing vehicle replacement, though I think electrical utilities are the most dire need.

And a new business center. That’s a dream I’d love to see, because I attend meetings in different municipalities around Nevada, and even towns that are smaller than Boulder City have a place where you can hold a large meeting.

But I totally support the idea that we need a new aquatic center. We have a world-class swim team in Boulder City and we can’t host swim meets. A huge part of the community uses that pool. I think it’s an appropriate use of that solar lease money.

What are some major issues Boulder City faces in the near and distant future?

Within the next few months, one of the things we need to get settled is the noise ordinance. You have to balance both sides of this issue. We want a vibrant economy and we want these downtown businesses to succeed, and we want to make Boulder City a place where people want to come.

I think another thing that has come up is parking. City Council members have the opportunity to meet individually with business owners, and parking was a big issue to all of these businesses; but resolving it is not as easy as it may seem. The enforcement has been very inconsistent, so we’re trying to figure this out so we can have ample parking for all of the visitors who come, and also not impact the residents who live close by.

In the immediate future, it’s how we choose to address the voter-approved land sales off of Bristlecone Drive. We’re in the decision-making process of the best way to develop that land so it will be a good fit for Boulder City, and that it will benefit our community and bring revenue to the city.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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