Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison made a stop in Pahrump on Tuesday to speak with various officials on a variety of topics relating to the valley.
The main points of his visit surround tourism, business, and facilities in the valley.
“I’m out here visiting different businesses, community centers, the hospitals, and I just finished a meeting with county commissioners from across the state,” Hutchison said. “We discussed federal land issues that’s very important out here in Nye County and we’re doing everything we can to make sure the state of Nevada understands the issues in rural Nevada and Nye County in particular.”
Of those issues, Hutchison explained there are a few that stand out in the county.
“I think at the top of everybody’s list is economic development,” he said.
“I think the main thing we can do in state government or county government is to ensure that Nevadans have good jobs and can rely on strong families. I think we should promote policies that lead to economic development growth, good jobs, strengthening our families and educating our children.
“But without a doubt, making sure Nevadans have good jobs is at the top of the list.”
With Pahrump on an upward trend as far as growth is concerned, Hutchison sees potential for businesses to boom in the area.
“Pahrump is a wonderful community. As a lifelong Southern Nevadan I have watched Pahrump grow from a little bedroom community to a thriving, important town in the state of Nevada,” he said. “It’s still rural, but it still has so many features that reflect the growth of Nevada. As a result, we have the challenge of making sure we keep up with the growth.”
With Pahrump, Hutchison acknowledges that not all residents are for the town growing much larger. Despite that, he explained that there is a way to expand, but keep the same feel to the town in the process.
“I think that Pahrump is such a cohesive community, that people sometimes are threatened by growth and they think, ‘We don’t want to lose what we already have here,’” Hutchison said. “I’m a big proponent of growth as it results in good economic opportunities for people. So we have got to have smart growth. Make sure that we retain the characteristics of rural Pahrump and a small town community, but give the people the opportunity to have jobs and have growth in their individual careers and professions.”
The town of Pahrump has made a calculated effort to grow tourism in town. With that, Hutchison believes that those efforts will pay off with the variety of activities the area has to offer on a yearly basis.
“Pahrump is a very important facet of tourism in Nevada,” he said. “I’m the chairman of the Commission of Tourism and our No. 1 priority on that commission is rural tourism. Nye County is a big part of that.
“We have specific grants from the state of Nevada that promote rural tourism within Nye County, within Pahrump and I want to make sure the county officials here remember and access (those).”
Hutchison mentioned his visit to Front Sight Firearms Training Institute later on Tuesday and an example of facilities that can be used to draw people from all over the world to town.
“Second Amendment rights and Second Amendment tourism is an important part of what’s going on in Pahrump,” he said. “We want to promote that.”
With the area hosting several highly-attended events, like the Fall Festival and Balloon Fest to name a few, in addition to being a gateway to Death Valley, Hutchison sees room to grow the tourism initiative in town even further.
“I think it’s important that we as a state continue to focus on rural tourism and the way that we do that is to provide support for Pahrump and other rural communities to advertise these events,” he said. “You’ve also got the racetrack out here, you’ve got the outdoor activities out here, you’ve got the fair out here, and these events are important to Pahrump and important to Nevada.
“I think that the state of Nevada can really help to support Pahrump by helping them market and advertise those events. We’re not going to do it any better than Pahrump does, but we can help them promote those activities.”
With Pahrump voting largely against Question No. 1, which requires background checks for most private gun sales and exchanges, in last week’s General Election, Hutchison knows how important those Second Amendment rights are to the county.
“I was disappointed that Question No. 1 passed,” he said. “I was a major supporter of opposing Question 1 because I know what it is. It’s unnecessary gun control. So look, we want to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of criminals, everybody wants that, but Question No. 1 is not going to do anything to promote any more safe policy for Nevada that we already had in place with the existing laws.”
The ballot measure passed statewide with a slim margin of 50.45 percent of voters choosing yes, while in Nye, just 26.11 percent of voters chose yes, with an overwhelming 73.89 percent of voters choosing no.
Hutchison makes regular stops in Pahrump, with his last visit coming in May, as the keynote speaker at Valley Electric Association Inc.’s annual meeting. He believes staying current and showing his face in all towns, especially rural ones, is an important aspect of his political position.
“I’m out here often,” he said. “We’ve got a very important veteran population in Pahrump, we’ve got a lot of retirees out here and we got a lot of great Nevadans. People who love independence, who love their freedoms and liberties and this is the heart and soul of Nevada as far as I’m concerned.”
Contact reporter Mick Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @mickakers