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Why ethics are a concern for District 5 commission candidates

At a candidates’ debate held on April 21, a majority of the discussion between the Nye County Board of Commissioners District 5 candidates centered around how they would react to various “unethical” situations.

Debra Strickland, Dee Mounts and William Simpson spoke at the debates on April 21 sponsored by the Nye County Republican Central Committee and hosted by former NCRCC Chairman Joe Burdzinski. Deanna O’Donnell of local TV station KPVM posed the questions to the candidates.

Simpson has been in Pahrump since 2008 and while “not a politician”, spoke of having management experience and working as an investigator for a law firm. Mounts has been here since 2019. She has been a leader with Battle Born Patriots and mentioned 30-plus years as a business owner. Strickland is the incumbent commissioner, has been a resident for 49 years and has 28 years of experience in the water business.

Asked what their goals were and how they would prepare to meet them, Strickland said that the commissioners were the CEOs of Nye County and that she wanted to continue to provide the best service to the citizens. She can’t know everything so she needs to reach out to staff for information. Simpson wants more transparency and to represent everyone. He would use multiple sources to obtain information. Mounts labeled herself a constitutional conservative and would work on fiscal responsibility. She would prepare by reading the backup and conferring with staff.

All three were quizzed on conflict of interest, confronting unethical behavior, perspective of “county corruption”, legislation which benefits a friend and conflicts with staff. They all agreed that if they encountered unethical behavior, they would first talk to the individual. And they all agreed that if a friend were to benefit from something they were going to vote on, they would disclose that information.

Concerning corruption, Strickland asked, “Where’s the corruption?” and said that we have a sheriff’s department and a district attorney in place. Simpson said that we have laws in place and Mounts agreed, adding that rumors of corruption were overused.

Strickland and Simpson agreed that if there were conflicts with staff, they would meet with the individuals first and then, if the conflict was not resolved, go to the county manager. Mounts said she would communicate with the staff.

Special interest groups would gain no traction with any of the candidates. Strickland would listen, but not be swayed. Simpson felt that if what was desired was not good for the people, he would say “no” and Mounts does not work with special interest groups.

On the subject of conflict of interest, Simpson pointed out that it was an ethics violation. Strickland felt it was important to disclose the conflict and then abstain. Mounts referred to Strickland’s water drilling and construction businesses and the fact that Strickland has only recused herself once. She also mentioned the water board being fired. Strickland rebutted by saying that she had been a leader in the fight for water rights and that the water board was being reformed.

When asked what is the biggest issue facing the board, Strickland and Simpson felt it was the treasurer’s office while Mounts said that it was water. Her first act as county commissioner would be to audit our water.

On that subject, water was a concern for Simpson and Mounts as we don’t know how much we have. This affects future growth in the county. Strickland would like to control building, bank water and update the 2015 Groundwater Management Plan.

In closing, Strickland thanked everyone for attending. Simpson said that a vote for him was a vote for everyone. Mounts pointed out her opposition to solar farms and her participation in opposing the various state mandates.

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