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KNIGHTLY: Who is willing to guide the county

The upcoming eight months could shape the future of Nye County at one of its most crucial crossroads.

All county departments are being asked to cut 8 percent across the board to help close a $2.4 million general fund shortfall. This will likely mean more layoffs to already thin staffs.

With just more than 10 weeks until the final county budget is due to the state, comptroller Amy Fanning gave notice to the county that she will be leaving at the end of the month for another opportunity and more pay. This comes after accepting the position 18 months ago. The next comptroller will have to pick up where Fanning left off, telling various department heads, including the sheriff, district attorney and courts, that budgets have to be cut.

This is just a small portion of all the challenges casting a shadow over the county as Monday starts the two weeks where talking ends and potential candidates put pen to paper and enter the political arena. Three of the five Nye County Commission seats are up for election, with one incumbent making the surprise announcement this week that he would not seek a second term.

Current Chairman Frank Carbone made the announcement during the commission meeting Tuesday. Carbone took 55.7 percent of the vote in 2012 to represent District II. Carbone came in with Donna Cox, who narrowly won District III with 51.75 percent. Carbone and Cox represent districts based in Pahrump. Cox did not return inquiries Wednesday and Thursday on whether she intends to run for a second term.

Also up for re-election is Lorinda Wichman, who ran unopposed in the 2012 general election. She told told us Thursday she will seek a third term.

Monday is when candidates for those three races can file papers with the Nye County Clerk’s Office. The filing date runs through March 18, with the June 14 primary election, then the general election on Nov. 4 looming on the horizon.

There have been a few people claiming they are going to run, and we’ll start reporting on them when they officially register in the next two weeks. Turnout is expected to be heavy because it is a presidential election year, which tends to draw out more voters.

Whoever is elected to those 4-year-terms, they will have to watch over a shrinking county budget, as mentioned before, as well as a possible search for a new county manager.

Current Manager Pam Webster just signed a two-year extension, which means that the search could be on a year-and-a-half into the next commissioners’ terms. There is also the continued discussion of an area water plan they will have to deal with, but that is another column.

The commission elections will also run alongside what could be a contentious battle for the area state Assembly seat currently held by James Oscarson, whose campaign signs have already been placed along major roadways in the county.

Nye County Republican Central Committee, upset about Oscarson’s vote in support of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.4 billion tax package during the last Legislature, has thrown their support behind challenger Tina Trenner.

Also, freshman Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy is expected to face a tough race for another two-year term in November from whomever emerges from a four-candidate Democratic field in June’s primary.

Who will step forward at the crossroads willing to help steer the county down the path to tomorrow, no matter how bumpy that road becomes?

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

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