Nye County Commission Candidates Forum held in Pahrump

The Nye County Commission Candidates Forum took place on Monday with five contenders for the two seats up for election turning out to share their thoughts on a variety of subjects.

The forum was hosted by Pahrump residents Andy Alberti and Bill Newyear, who stated they wished to provide the community with an overview of those who are seeking their votes in the coming elections.

Candidates for Nye County Commission District 4 who participated Monday night included Leo Blundo and Walt Turner. Those who attended who are hoping to secure the commission District 5 seat included Dwight Lilly, Leo Marchetti and Debra Strickland.

Newyear took the lead on the forum, welcoming the audience and candidates before plunging into the question and answer session. Newyear explained that the event was not a debate, as commonly referred to, but was simply a format for learning more about the men and women desiring to represent the people. The candidates were directed to avoid personal attacks and there were no rebuttals allowed.

Opening statements kicked off the forum, giving each person a chance to provide an idea of who they were and why they were seeking a seat on the commission.

Lilly, a regular attendee at commission meetings and a vocal member of the public, said he decided to enter the political fray because he did not believe the current District 5 commissioner was properly representing the people. As a radio show host, he said, “I feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse pretty good of what is going on,” citing planning, financial and other issues within the county.

Turner, a name many in the community might recognize, said he was born and raised in Pahrump and desires to bring forward the people’s ideas rather than his own. “Growing up here I have always tried to stay involved,” he said. “Now it is time to take a step up and do what I feel the community needs. and that is represent the people.”

Blundo, owner of Carmelo’s Bistro, proclaimed that the community deserves better and he wanted to do that for them. “I’d love to have some positive flow through our streets,” Blundo said. He touched on several aspects of the county government he would like to work on as a commissioner, including roads, the budget and economic development.

Marchetti detailed his background as a chief executive officer and a treasurer for nonprofit and for-profit businesses. “I have had a lot of management experience and a lot of customer service,” he said, noting his bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University, his ability to speak four languages and his volunteer work in the community. He complained that there was corruption and waste in the county and he would work to eliminate those.

Strickland is another longstanding community member, having moved to the valley in 1973 and graduated from Pahrump Valley High. She is now a contractor and real estate agent, as well as a well driller. She detailed that advisory committees were a big part of the process, one she would like to see more successful in the future, and community involvement would be key. “This BoCC that you are building now will make a difference in your community, depending on who you vote for,” she asserted.

Following opening statements, Newyear got down to the nitty-gritty and the answers started flowing. Many questions, such as those addressing metering of domestic wells and the concept of rural versus subdivisions, resulted in comparable answers from all.

For metering wells, all agreed that forcing current wells to be metered would not be acceptable but most also agreed that voluntary metering could help the local water issue. All concurred that Pahrump should be remain a rural area, although Blundo did note he thought the current balance between rural and subdivision lifestyle was good.

Yucca Mountain, more

One of the prepared questions that split the pack of candidates dealt with one of the most contentious issues in not just the county but the entire state, that of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project. Newyear asked the candidates to explain their feeling on the potential opening of that site.

Marchetti and Lilly were staunchly against the idea while Strickland was straightforward in her support. Blundo and Turner walked a line, Blundo stating that he supported hearing the science behind the issue and Turner remarking that the nuclear waste has to go somewhere.

Marchetti expressed his concern with the geological features of the area and his fear of an earthquake along fault lines disturbing the waste. He also lamented the fact that the U.S. does not recycle its nuclear waste as so many other countries do. Lilly took a “Not in my backyard!” stance, citing his belief that the groundwater would be endangered and telling the audience he thought the other states should “keep their garbage.”

Blundo fell back on the vote by the Nye County Commission several years ago, in which the county adopted a stance of wanting to hear the science of the project to make an educated decision. The potential for recycling and reprocessing would also create jobs and career paths for younger people, he said, adding, “If you think it is bad going into Yucca Mountain, maybe you would think it’s worse that it is just buried in the ground.”

Turner said so long as independent science could prove the project safe he thought it would be a positive boost for the entire state. “A, it is going to go somewhere here in the U.S. And B, the money coming in could mean everything for this county, for the future of this state,” Turner asserted. He also agreed that recycling the nuclear waste would be a good path as well.

Strickland responded by remarking that she was sure some would be upset by her answer but she does support the idea of opening Yucca Mountain. “I say yes because the Nevada Test Site is the most secure facility that we have… We have monitor wells that already encompass and encircle the test site that tells us what the groundwater is doing …” Strickland said. She focused on the “end game,” recycling waste to provide nuclear power to the communities of Nevada. “I do want to see those rods reused and that’s where I’d like to see it go,” she concluded.

Commission candidates that did not participate on Monday included Richard Goldstein, Democrat for District 4, Ron Boskovich and Tina Trenner, both Republicans for District 4, Frank Maurizio, Independent American for District 4 and incumbent candidate Dan Schinhofen, Republican for District 5.

Goldstein explained that he was unable to attend as he was scheduled to be in the hospital for surgery, while Maurizio was in fact in attendance but, as he was running the videoing equipment, he did not participate.

Boskovich and Trenner had both stated they intended to take part but Boskovich called that evening to inform Newyear and Alberti that he had gotten a flat tire and was attempting to remedy that in time to attend. Trenner said there had been a miscommunication in which she was told the event was being sponsored by the Independent American Party and therefore she decided not to attend. Newyear said that although Alberti is an Independent American, the event was not in fact being sponsored by that party.

Schinhofen detailed that he did not attend for two reasons. “I had another commitment and could not attend. Also, as Mr. Alberti was in charge, I did not think it would be a fair debate for those candidates Andy doesn’t like, as he has continually misinformed people about the issues and me personally,” Schinhofen said.

However, he did note that he will participate in a debate to be sponsored by the Nye County GOP and others.

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