Pahrump Town Board Chairman Harley Kulkin officially filed to run for lieutenant governor this week.
The self-proclaimed “blue collar” candidate admits he has an uphill battle competing with the likes of more prominent names running their respective campaigns out of Las Vegas.
Kulkin is not a stranger to the political arena as he has previously run for Nye County commissioner in 2004.
Two years later, the small businessman unsuccessfully ran for the District 36 Assembly and again for county commissioner in 2008.
He was elected to the town board in 2010.
This week, Kulkin spoke about his gubernatorial run and two hot button issues unique to the local community: Incorporation and the proposed tourist destination known as “Adventure Springs.”
How’s your campaign going?
“Right now I am working on all of the information that I want to put out there. It’s mainly my fliers and ads for papers. So I am working on what exactly I want to say.”
What state issues are you focused on?
“Nevada’s top officials, believe it or not, make some of the highest salaries in the nation but the results of their work show that Nevada is 50th in the nation in education, we’re number 50 in job opportunities, we are number 46 in health care and we are number one in bankruptcy and number two in foreclosures.
We are in a direct relationship with those negative numbers and the level of economics people are now living in. There are certain elements of our population that are living fine and the rest of us are suffering and that’s not right. You have to ask yourself, why does nothing change? It’s real simple, the person who spends the most money, gets special interest money to fund their campaign so people end up voting for the name they see the most and wonder why things never change. It’s all the same old stuff.”
A number of candidates have appeared on Las Vegas television. Have you been invited?
“I have not probably because I’m not in their circles. Our current lieutenant governor has spent over a million dollars in campaign contributions to get elected and so far I have gotten zero.
One talk show guy in Las Vegas, Mr. John Ralston had (Lisa) Floras (a Democratic candidate) on recently. I sent him an email requesting to be on his show, but I haven’t heard back. I am a Vietnam veteran and the ‘Veterans in Politics’ talk show host would not put me on when I ran for senate because they are very staunch Republicans.”
You recently went “All In” on the issue of incorporation. How are your efforts coming along?
“We are picking it up and it’s looking really good. I am hopeful that we will be able to have everything done, including creating and circulating a petition to get enough signatures to be on the November ballot so the people can vote on it. We are not trying to force anything on anybody.”
How would incorporation benefit Pahrump’s community?
“Many people in our town have all these ideas but they are confused about what it really means. The reality is everything within the borders of the Town of Pahrump, the town will run it and that’s all.
As to what happens, it’s up to the people they vote for. Right now we don’t have a real chain of command because the town runs some things, the county runs some things and the sheriff does what he wants. Unfortunately, it’s not a good working team. Just think of all of the businesses that have been driven out of Pahrump. It’s just incredible.
Remember the shrimp farms? They are doing great in North Las Vegas. Silver State Armory has 200 employees. They left here and we have lost so much and it’s because of the county running things. When you have an incorporated city things are a lot different.”
What are some examples of past incorporation that are now success stories in Nevada?
If you look at all of the incorporated cities in rural Nevada they are thriving. Boulder City has a population of 15,000. Caliente has 1,100 and Ely has a population of 4,200. They are all much smaller than we are. I urge people to visit any of them because they are doing well. There’s a lot of community pride, they don’t have the level of crime that we have and businesses are welcomed with open arms and if you want a job, you can certainly find one.”
Incorporation aside, what local issues need immediate attention?
“In the two past legislative sessions, there has been an effort for rural Nevada to combine two state laws that are for economic development. What they wanted to do for rural Nevada, which would be based on population, would be combining the incentives to help rural Nevada get more jobs and businesses.
The state legislature both times refused to move it forward and that really hurts rural Nevada. Obviously, most of your senators and assemblymen live in Las Vegas and are protecting the big city.”
Do you regret supporting Contour’s Adventure Springs Project at the fairgrounds site?
“No, not at all. If we were incorporated, we would have been a lot further along. The county doesn’t really support us but we are trying to work with them now to bring in infrastructure. It’s creeping along and moving forward to bring along water, sewer and electric.
Once that’s brought to the property, it’s really going to take off as far as use and dollars back into the community. If we were a city, we could move forward a lot faster. We have a goal and we are investing in something that will bring jobs into Pahrump.”
How do you feel about your chances?
“I am a big longshot but I believe very strongly that I am the best choice overall. I’m a blue collar worker and I have a working man’s hands. I am anything but ‘business as usual’ and I am going to follow my heart and my conscience and there won’t be anybody who will stop me.
I feel that within myself, I have always done what is in the best interests of Pahrump especially for young people’s futures.”