By Mark Waite
Frank Carbone admitted after his upset of incumbent Commissioner Gary Hollis on election night it was good to know there were so many people willing to take a chance on someone who is pretty much unknown.
Carbone defeated Hollis by 348 votes, a margin of 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent, to deny him a third term on the commission.
Carbone and his wife Jane moved to Pahrump in 2005 after he retired from 30 years working with defense contractors, mostly Northrup Grumman, the last three years as program manager for logistics at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, having served from 1969 to 1973.
After his first job playing the Esso tiger in Brooklyn, N.Y., Carbone worked with a mechanic at a gas station, went on to a machine shop and learned how to weld at Holbrook Manufacturing. The Carbones also ran Renaissance Health Spa during their time in California.
In the office in his home is a piece of the Oklahoma City Courthouse after the 1995 bombing, a photo of a crew posing in front of a Stealth bomber on Sept. 11, 2001, a photo of his 1955 Chevy in front of the Stealth bomber and the David Packard award by the U.S. Department of Defense he received at Tinker AFB.
Carbone said he was a frequent attendee at Pahrump Town Board meetings. And there were a few reasons he decided to run for county commissioner.
“One is the communication between the town board and county. It seems like there was no communication there. The other piece of that was, I believe we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be as far as a county in looking at things that just didn’t seem like it fit. We have all these ordinances I doubt we ever looked at to see if we can make things run simpler and more functional,” Carbone said.
“Plus there’s no jobs. The top of the list is: what are we doing to bring jobs here? All the doors, are we opening them for people to come in? All these fees we charge, are we making it business-friendly for businesses to come in? I’m not talking about public-private partnerships. I’m talking about entrepreneurs that want to open a business here. I don’t believe in public-private partnerships. I don’t believe government should be picking winners to work with,” he said.
Carbone said he agrees with Commissioner Dan Schinhofen that government shouldn’t be involved in the private sector.
“I think we should get the private sector to do a lot of these jobs that we do. We need to watch what we’re doing, we don’t need to expand government,” Carbone said.
But he doesn’t want to go in as a new commissioner and upset the apple cart right away, either, he said.
Carbone doesn’t describe himself as a Ron Paul supporter, or a Libertarian, but a conservative — very conservative.
“I’m not a Ron Pauler but I believe in some of the things Ron Paul believes in. I believe in the way he believes in government, the way it needs to be reduced down, how the federal government has overstepped their bounds on a lot of issues. I believe the fed needs to be audited. Those are all beliefs of Ron Paul. I’m a quasi-Ron Paul supporter because all the things he believes in, I believe too. But we needed to pick somebody that is going to win,” Carbone said.
On the county level, he advocated taking a careful look before getting involved in the takeover of a private business, Pahrump Utility Company.
His term began with a rocky start, taking the oath of office under protest. While many oaths swear allegiance to the Constitution, Carbone said only Nevada requires swearing allegiance to the government.
But Commission Chairman Lorinda Wichman complimented him for being the most prepared incoming commissioner she’s seen. Carbone said he’s talked to as many agencies as possible in the county, specifically the Nuclear Waste Repository Office but also human resources to brush up on how the employee unions function, as well as the county clerk and district attorney.
Already Carbone said he’s been talking to residents of Richland Estates about their road problems.
“I’m easy to get a hold of. I’m willing to talk to whoever wants to talk,” he said. “I like to be involved with the folks, to help them get whatever they need done.”
Carbone and District 3 Commissioner Donna Cox will both take their seats for the first time next month. Carbone said of Cox, “I can’t say anything bad, she’ll do a good job.”
“I can tell you at the very beginning it’s probably going to be a little different until we learn each other’s way of doing things. I know I like to discuss the items that are on the agenda,” Carbone said.
“My specific district is the district that I’m responsible for, No. 1. No. 2 is everything else that follows, But No. 1 is the people that live in my district. Now I know there are some people out there who don’t like to hear I have to work with the other commissioners. You have your area you have to take care of and the people who elected you but you also have to work with the other commissioners. They need help and they’ll probably need help from you. Everybody has to work together,” he said.
Carbone said he supports a request by Commissioner Butch Borasky for a later meeting time for the Pahrump meetings, to allow people working jobs to attend. But he knows there’s issues with staff overtime. When there’s big issues up for discussion, Carbone suggested a community meeting.
“In my district I want the people who elected me to be as aware as possible,” he said.
Besides jobs, Carbone thinks the water situation in Pahrump Valley could be a big issue in the future. He wants to set up a meeting between State Engineer Jason King and local well drillers.
“I’d like to get us all together and understand the basin and what our issues are, because the well drillers know what’s going on with the water,” he said.
If the state engineer decides to make Pahrump a critical water basin, Carbone said they won’t build any more houses or move any more businesses to Pahrump.
Nye County will be facing more unfunded mandates, Carbone said, mentioning Gov. Brian Sandoval’s agreement to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
During the campaign, Carbone said he didn’t want any more Blagg Road issues.
“It should’ve been taken care of immediately, not where we took months to allocate the $4 million we allocated to get it done, and just get to work on it. Why make the people around it suffer?” Carbone asked. The county could’ve taken photographic evidence and soil samples, instead of waiting so long to repair the road, he said.
Carbone hopes to be appointed to the Regional Transportation Commission which Wichman talked about leaving..
When candidates at a forum talked about traveling around the county to meet with residents, Carbone thought the county should save money by doing more videoconferencing. He plans to travel to Tonopah for his county commission meeting Jan. 6, but wll decide after that how many trips he wants to make up north.
Carbone said he learned how to manage budgets in the corporate world at Northrup.
“You’re in a corporate world, you had to manage your budgets. You didn’t go back to your vice-president and say I need another $15 million to do your job. I guess you’re going to get told, good, we don’t need you any longer. You don’t come back begging. You make do,” he said.
Carbone said the county budget isn’t lean, but it’s nowhere near as bloated as it was.
“From the outside looking in, what I’ve seen so far, we’re not the richest county in Nevada that’s for sure. But I think we’re holding our own.,” he said. “People think that there’s hundreds of millions of dollars there just hanging around in bank accounts. There’s not.”
Carbone told the candidates forum he’d like to bring in businesses that don’t use a lot of water, or generate hazardous chemicals. Retirees could be attracted to live in Pahrump, who could live in low cost houses, he said.
Besides county impact fees, Carbone would like to explain to utility companies their fees are inhibiting new businesses.
“All you can do is sit down and explain to the folks that are out there: do we want more businesses out there? Do you want more customers on your line?” Carbone asked. “Do you think the money on your impact fees is going to help you or having 10 or 15 employees with houses here?”
Carbone said he doesn’t want to discuss in the press how he’ll vote on an issue when it’s close to voting time. He said that would interfere with the Nevada Open Meetings Law, telegraphing to other commissioners his vote.