In the 2020 Republican Primary race for Nye County Commission District 3, incumbent Donna Cox is facing three opponents, Louis “Louie” Baker, Deanna O’Donnell and John Wehrly. The winner of this match-up with then proceed to the general election and go up against Independent American Party candidate Lance Schaus.
“As a general contractor, I have been a community leader in many ways. I have developed a vision for the future to bring Pahrump out of the shadows of darkness, despair and hopelessness. Even with the cloud of the coronavirus hanging over our heads, I see light at the end of the tunnel,” Baker stated of his run for commissioner.
With COVID-19 dominating the thoughts of many all around the country, Baker said he wants to institute a system of badges that would assist the government in handling the pandemic. “The badges have three colors, yellow, green and red. Yellow is proof of testing and will be followed two weeks later by a dated green badge, red is issued to those testing positive that tells others to stay away,” Baker explained.
Another of Baker’s more out-of-the-box ideas focuses on what has been a longstanding controversy in Nevada, Yucca Mountain. With billions of dollars already expended on the project, Baker said he wants to see the repository put to use, but not for the purpose it was originally intended.
“Instead of a repository, we need a military complex at Yucca Mountain,” Baker detailed.
Another demonstration of Baker’s divergent manner of thinking is a project his is currently working on. “I am putting together a flying saucer,” Baker noted, remarking that he simply wants to build something symbolic to show that such a project can be done. “I hope it will get people excited to the point of wanting to do something and recognizing we really do have the ability to get these things done.”
New technology, manufacturing and innovations are the mission, Baker said, with the aim of providing new revenue streams to the county and opportunities for its residents. He said he knows commissioners have the ability to get things done, if they will just take the time to do them.
As commissioner, Baker said he would like to concentrate his efforts “…on dilapidated properties, useless equipment or vehicles that contribute to unsightly neighborhoods” by enforcing the codes already on the county’s books.
“I will strive to eliminate government delays or regulations that inhibit growth. I will see that the seniors, the veterans and the homeless are not forgotten, that they enjoy a reasonable retirement, social security amount or a job, they don’t deserve to be below poverty level,” Baker continued. “We need less government, greater transparency, better representation.”
To that end, Baker said he would also like to see a “gate committee” set up that could go over individual residents’ problems before those items are brought to the commission, all in an effort to ensure no one’s issues are going unheard.
“When I have attended meetings there, I was very disappointed with the fact that the commissioners arbitrarily dismiss people after their three minutes of public comment are done, without any reply or retort about the comments the individuals have made. To me, that’s an insult. We, the citizens, are the people who hired them to do the job for us,” Baker asserted.
Voters can learn more about Baker by calling 775-990-7451 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Cox has been on the commission for nearly eight years and she is now seeking her third and final term as a local elected representative.
Born in Kingman, Arizona, Cox moved to Nevada when she was two and considers herself to be a native Nevadan. She and her husband raised their family in Las Vegas but there came a day when that community grew too big for their taste, so the family packed up and came to Pahrump in 1988.
“I’ve always been a people person. I started in politics in the town of Whitney when I was 22 years old and spent 12 years as vice chair of the town board there,” Cox stated.
Cox said she made her first bid for commissioner after her daughter-in-law, a former commissioner herself, moved to Las Vegas.
“When she moved I ended up stepping back into the political realm, which I love,” Cox said. “There is good and there is bad to it. I try to turn the bad things into good, on a day-to-day basis.”
Cox describes herself as very constitutional and very freedom loving and as a result, “I try to throw a lot of monkey wrenches into things that I think are bad or unconstitutional,” she detailed. “The people come first. Without the people, none of us would have these jobs. I think everyone in politics needs to understand that.”
Focusing on two big projects the county is currently undertaking, Cox said she wants to continue as commissioner so she can help make certain the new animal shelter gets built and the county’s one-stop shop comes to fruition as well.
“Water and the wells, that’s a big issue,” Cox continued. “I brought forward Senate Bill 21 in 2019 (aimed at disbanding the Nye County Water District) and that kind of got the skids put on it but we are not through with that, believe me. Especially after what the water board did a few months ago, when they wanted to jack up the parcel fees.
”None of these issues are dead in the water right now, all those things are active and we’re still working on them,” Cox stated. “We are still trying to do the right thing that will save the taxpayer money in the long run, because I don’t believe in raising taxes.”
The county’s budget is another area of major concern, with Cox noting, “There is a fine line in what you do and don’t do as far as your budget… I am a strong conservative, which causes me to really watch where the money goes.”
Cox emphasized that she “cannot be bought” and strives every day to bring transparency to the commission.
“I enjoy working with the people I work with too. One of the reasons that I got into this job was because I had been hearing about how corrupt everybody is. Well, if they were, I think most of those days are gone because of people stepping in and they know they are being watched. Anybody who is doing bad things is very, very careful because I have not been able to catch them,” Cox said. “I think we’ve made a lot of headway and changes for the positive and I am pretty happy with what we have now. But if anybody has a complaint, call me, message me, I take messages all day long.”
Voters can learn more about Cox by calling 775-209-4751.
O’Donnell is a well-known figure in the Pahrump Valley, having lived here since 2004 and worked as a reporter for KPVM TV, a job she holds to this day.
“I’m a regular person, I consider myself very blue collar,” O’Donnell told the Pahrump Valley Times. “I work in my yard, I love gardening. I’m a mom, I have two kids, and I am a big animal person, I have five dogs, two cats and a fish. I try to do a lot of charitable things because it’s something that brings me joy and happiness. I try to do the best I can as a human being and make things better if I can.”
O’Donnell said she cares deeply about the community and is always looking for ways to help while encouraging others to do the same, in whatever way they can.
“I’ve always tried to make myself open to anybody who wants to talk to me about anything,” O’Donnell said. “I like that people feel comfortable doing that and at the same time, I am made aware of needs that I may not have been before.”
She remarked that she had been toying with the idea of running for commissioner for some time and she finally decided to take the leap this year.
“I started thinking about it, would that position fit into my plan of trying to help as much as I can? Because I kind of look at myself as a conduit for helping. I don’t know if I will win or not but I figured this an extension of what I have always wanted to do in my life, helping people and the community,” O’Donnell detailed.
She acknowledged how harsh people can be in their criticisms of the commissioners, noting that it annoys her that the county has a reputation of corruption. That would be a main goal for her, helping change that idea and facilitate transparency on behalf of the public.
On specific issues, O’Donnell said water is a main concern for her and closely connected with water is growth.
“We have to have plans on what we are going to do and be responsible with our development and what’s going to happen in our future,” O’Donnell said, adding, “There has been some activity that has been good, like the cloud seeding, but that is only at certain times. And I know they have been looking at some of the developments lately… I think that is key. If there are past development agreements we can’t do anything about, we’re going to have to look at future ones and do some sort of controlled growth, where we are thinking about the future.”
Most important for O’Donnell would be maintain diligence in finding out as much information as possible on every issue and using all available resources to make the best decisions possible.
“I really believe in communication and finding out what people want to see. I really believe listening to the constituents is very important and they sometimes have ideas that you haven’t even thought about,” O’Donnell stated. “You are a public servant. That is something you have to keep in your head, at all times.”
O’Donnell said she has nothing but the highest admiration for Cox and her fellow candidates, she is simply putting herself out there to give the public another option to consider. “To me it’s like this. If you like Donna, vote for Donna. If you like the other candidates, vote for them. But I am here as an option, I think people know what I am about and I do hope people vote for me.”
Voters can learn more about O’Donnell by visit Facebook at Deanna O’Donnell for County Commissioner Dist 3.
Wehrly has a longstanding familiarity with Pahrump, having grown up and graduated from high school in the valley.
Following high school, he then set his sights on military service, joining the U.S. Navy before retiring and then entering the medical industry as an ambulance service employee. Just four short months later, Wehrly said he started as a medical technical assistant for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, spending time in three different state-run institutions.
By 2001 it was time for another career shift and Wehrly moved to Nevada, where he joined the Nevada Department of Public Safety as a parole and probation officer. He continued in that line of work for 18 years before finally retiring.
“I got a really good impression of community service doing all that,” Wehrly said. “Basically, my whole career, ever since I was in the Navy, was caring for other people. Some of those people were in prison, some of them had been in prison and some of them had almost gone to prison. So I got a really good feel for how to read people.”
Though retired, Wehrly is still quite active, with heavy involvement in Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children, although for now that activity has been halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I was a potentate for Shriners Hospital for Children. Last year was a busy one for me. I did a lot of traveling for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children, going back to Tennessee and voting on different items for the organization, like determining what we were going to do, membership, things like that,” Wehrly said. “And I got to meet a lot of nice people and see a lot of the kids that the Shriners help. It was very rewarding, one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Wehrly said his desire to run for commissioner had been building gradually ever since he moved back to Pahrump. Watching the county commission meetings on the county’s granicus web page, he said he found himself considering the agenda items as if he were already on the board. “I watch the meetings and I argue with myself about what they are arguing about and I just feel that I can do a better job. And I’ve felt like that for a long time,” Wehrly detailed.
Honing in on one particular issue, Wehrly remarked, “I think the county needs more infrastructure put in. Some of these roads are over 50 years old, and they were put in by Preferred Equities and they need to be redone.” Wilson Road, Blagg Road, Pahrump Valley Boulevard and Manse Road west of Homestead Road were just a few examples of roads that Wehrly said he feels need attention.
The county and town’s equestrian and other recreational assets were also something he said he would like to focus on. “It’d be nice to see a bigger and better arena, bigger and better parks, more things for the kids to do.”
The homeless and squatter situation in Pahrump was yet another subject he expressed interest in, stating, “That’s a hazard for public safety in itself and I think public safety is paramount for the citizens of Nye County. We desperately need a homeless shelter. I think the homeless situation is not being addressed adequately. You see people panhandling up and down the major thoroughfares with their dogs and their spouses and it’s sad. I didn’t see that when I was growing up here.”
Overall, Wehrly said he simply wants to bring new, fresh ideas and a different perspective to the Nye County Commission. “I think I can work together with the other county commissioners and make good decisions,” he concluded.
Voters can learn more about Wehrly by emailing email@example.com