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Three Amargosa Town Board seats up for grabs

For the 2020 general election, residents of Amargosa are instructed to select three of the five candidates listed under the nonpartisan race for Amargosa Valley Town Board.

However, voters should take note that though Esperanza “Hope” Budd had originally filed to run for one of these seats, when contacted to schedule an interview on her candidacy, Budd explained that she had moved to northern Nevada in June and was no longer seeking a position on the town board. Therefore, there is no point in voters choosing Budd as one of their three preferred candidates, as she will not be able to fill the position come January, leaving just four serious contenders for the available positions.

John Bosta

Bosta is no stranger to the inner-workings on the Amargosa Town Board, having been instrumental in the creation of that elected body just over a decade ago. Prior to the establishment of the elected board, Bosta had also served on the advisory town board, the members of which were appointed by the Nye County Commission. Now, he wants to get back into the mix with his main mission focused on ensuring the elected town board, which has been struggling to maintain a full body of five members, does not go by the wayside and that the town of Amargosa’s voice is not lost in the shuffle of everyday Nye County business.

Bosta’s background is in the education industry, where he served as a teacher for the majority of his adult life. Obtaining his teaching degree in 1962, Bosta began his career at a junior high school in Washoe County before moving to California, where he taught for 35 years and then worked two years as a director of education. Bosta then moved back to Nevada, where he finished out his career with a five-year teaching stint in the Nye County School District.

Following his retirement, Bosta began to get involved in local politics, establishing a familiarity with the manner in which boards operate and learning all he could about the laws and politics governing the local communities.

“I’m very interested in being on the board and I hope that the people will select me as one of the three people with the most votes this election. I feel like I am possibly the most qualified and most experienced candidate for the position,” Bosta stated in an interview. “My interest is in protecting the elected board and the survival of the elected board. I have to be very honest right now, I feel the town board is dysfunctional. The reason I say that is, not all of the members of the board are doing the research.”

Bosta emphasized that he himself believes strongly in being well researched and prepared prior to all official meetings, remarking, “I walk my talk and I try to get factual information before I make comment.”

Another of Bosta’s biggest problems with the way things are currently run in Amargosa centers around the dissemination of information. He said he feels there is simply not enough communication between the town’s officials and the people living in Amargosa. This, in turn, has led to far less public participation at town board meetings. “People have just given up on the town board, in my opinion,” Bosta said, noting that he wants to bring the level of participation back up to where it once was.

Bosta said he also wants to continue to focus on how Nye County’s actions impact the town of Amargosa, noting that over the years, he has encountered several items that have frustrated him. For instance, he said, funding from the Yucca Mountain project which he asserts was supposed to go to the town, but was instead absorbed by the county. The same sort of thing happened when Nevada began its recreational marijuana industry, Bosta said. It was only through his actions in contacting a Nevada State senator and obtaining a formal legal opinion on the newly established laws that Amargosa was able to receive the funds to which it was entitled, under the way the law had originally been written.

To learn more about Bosta’s run for office contact him at 775-764-9824.

Richard Claessens

A self-described cowboy patriot preacher, Claessens has lived in the Amargosa Valley for 20 years, having moved to the small rural town in 2000. Claessens said he has always been attracted to the rural lifestyle and the ability to live in a place where there are few formal rules and regulations and plenty of freedom. This is precisely why he is making his first foray into politics with a run for the Amargosa Town Board, to help ensure that the “live and let live” atmosphere that drew him to the area in the first place is maintained long into the future.

Claessens is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force with a background in engineering. Much of his career was spent as an electrician and later included time spent as a certified auto cad specialist. However, today his focus trends toward the spiritual aspects of life, with ministry a big passion for him in his retirement. Claessens is currently pursuing a degree in psychology and though he noted that he is not an ordained minister, he currently does online counseling to help those in need.

“I am very conservative and very vocal. You might say I am a mix between a conservative Republican and a Libertarian,” Claessens told the Pahrump Valley Times. “I have been sort of active in local politics, but mostly in the form of opposition to people who were trying to do bad things to our community, rather than running for an office, just being outspoken, posting to websites, that sort of stuff.”

Now, however, Claessens said he is ready to take a more direct role in politics and he felt that the Amargosa Town Board would be a good place to start. However, that is far from the extent of his political ambitions. Claessens noted that he is also eyeing potential bids for state office and even federal office at some point in the future, so long as his health allows him to pursue those goals.

“We can’t seem to find anybody to do the job anymore,” Claessens responded when asked what had prompted him to throw his hat in the ring for town board. Indeed, there has been a lot of turnover on the board over the years and there are even several vacancies currently, something that worries him.

“That’s what concerns me,” Claessens said. “For a long time we had a board that kind of protected us from outside influence, from people who were trying to take advantage of us in the valley or change things, what I call ‘curb and streetlight’ people. We love it rural out here. We love our farmland, we like our freedom and we are really fiercely independent out here. Town rules almost don’t exist. I believe that people should just be left alone. I’m very Jeffersonian in that I believe that the government that governs best, governs least.”

Overall, Claessens said he wants to see locals more involved in their community so he is stepping up to do just that. “I have good ideas and I am not easily swayed by opinions,” Claessens stated. “I tend to go on what the constituents of a particular area want, rather than what is popular.”

To learn more about Claessens check out his social media page at Richard.A.Claessens@Facebook or email richardclaessens@gmail.com

Debbera Mendyk

Mendyk is a longtime resident of the Amargosa Valley who grew up in the community and graduated from Beatty High School. She said she is pretty well-known in the community, having served at one time on the Amargosa Town Board before stepping down to take on a position at the town offices, and she is optimistic that the voters of the valley will select her this general election cycle.

Mendyk’s background includes a 30-plus year career working as a civilian for the U.S. Army as an account and computer system designer. During her tenure, Mendyk said she was able to travel the United States and was exposed to all manners of government. “So I think I bring a lot to the community in that manner. I’m also big in and still get a lot of messages on business re-engineering, where you go in and look at processes to see how they can be improved or be written for policy. I am very big into how to write standard operating procedures and organizing offices,” Mendyk told the Times, noting that she feels this kind of experience will translate quite well into being an elected town board representative.

On the topic of her primary goals for office, Mendyk detailed, “I’m looking to bring the community back together. It seems, since I have been back out here and working out here, I’ve seen that it’s only a select few who are governing this place and they are forgetting about the other 70% of the community. And I mean, it’s more than just a once-a-year, ‘Let’s get together and have a Christmas dinner to bring the community together’ thing. It’s a matter of, I want to bring the community together in all times of need.”

For example, Mendyk noted that the population of Amargosa has shifted somewhat and now includes a fairly large Hispanic population, which she feels is not being addressed adequately. “Granted, that’s my perception,” Mendyk admitted. “It’s a mindset of people feeling ignored and not listened to. The community as a whole is not being listened to, it’s just a select few people who are going to do what they want to do and to heck with everybody else and that bothers me. So that is what I am hoping to heal immediately. If we are going to grow at all, we can’t just be spending town and property money on nothing.”

In addition, she said she wants to be able to capitalize on current trends to help build the community, remarking, “I want to see, hopefully, that we can start rebuilding as a community to where people know we are here and we can invite some new business to want to relocate here, especially now in the times of social distancing and working from home, and the millennials wanting to move to where they can have their privacy. Hopefully we can move forward by tapping into that market.”

As her interview drew to a close, Mendyk concluded by describing herself as someone who always strives to maintain an open mind and a willingness to listen. “I’m honest and personable and I believe in God and country,” Mendyk asserted.

“Most of the people out here know who I am and they know I treat everyone the same, I don’t try to be prejudiced toward any one group. I do my best and I always try to support local businesses here and hopefully I can make a difference.”

Voters can reach out to Mendyk at 702-236-7509 or debmendyk@gmail.com

Deborah “Morgan” Scriven

Scriven lived most of her life in the state of Colorado, only having moved to the Amargosa Valley five years ago. Since becoming a part of the community, she said she has noticed a distinct lack of community involvement and that was the main impetus behind her decision to run for the Amargosa Town Board.

Growing up, Scriven said she lived in a household where her parents regularly brought in special needs children, and this was a life experience that translated itself into a passion that she has fostered over the years. Scriven has a long history of service to others, having spent more than two and a half decades of her life volunteering for organizations focused on those with special needs. Career wise, she said she spent time working in a crisis center in Colorado as well as 17 years in security at Mile High Stadium. Locally, Scriven was formerly employed at Northwest Academy where she remarked,“That was probably one of the hardest jobs I have ever had but it was probably also the most rewarding job.” Today, she is in the same boat as many others, having lost her position at the Longstreet Casino in the wake of COVID-19.

Her background of giving where she sees a need is what was at the heart of her decision to jump into the political ring, she explained.

“As far as our community here, I don’t think there is enough involvement, enough activities, or enough support. I am not sure how they came up with separating us from actual Nye County but that is going to be one of my biggest goals. We need to be connected with the county, we need the funding that you get from belonging to the county,” Scriven declared. “Somebody previously decided they wanted to sever ties with the county and that needs to be un-severed.

“The people up here have the feeling that they don’t matter to anybody. That’s something we need to break. We need to do something, do some fundraisers, get things set up, cleaned up, spruced up, there are all kinds of things we can do to make it more inviting. But if we can’t get the bigger towns to accept us, it’s kind of all for naught,” Scriven continued.

She said one area that she has particular interest in is the need for an ambulance service in Amargosa. Millions of travelers pass through each year on their way to Death Valley and if they experience a medical emergency while in Amargosa, an ambulance has to be called in from another community to transport. This is something she would want to work to change and though she knows it will be an uphill battle, she said she won’t shy away from the effort.

“I get things done. I work tirelessly. I can be assertive and I don’t take much from anybody. I will work with people but at the end of the day, I need to see results,” Scriven said. “Dynamite comes in small packages. It’s important for people to know that I don’t have a short fuse but I will not tolerate lies or cheaters.”

To learn more about Scriven’s bid for town board contact her at Groovygirl57@icloud.com or Groovygirl57@aol.com

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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