County commission candidates face community

County commission candidates face community

County commission candidates face community

Four candidates competing for one seat on the Pershing County Commission responded to tough questions from about 50 voters at last week’s Candidates Night in Lovelock. One candidate in the crowded GOP race for Governor responded to questions from the crowd.

The county commission candidates include a farmer, fire chief, city public works supervisor and a retired engineer. They are all Republicans with no Democrats or others in the race. Nevada is a “closed” primary state meaning that only Republicans can vote for Republican candidates. 

Last month, there were 1,589 active Republican voters, 529 active Democrat voters, 773 Nonpartisans, 135 Independent Americans, 27 Libertarians and 22 Other for a total of 3,075 active voters in Pershing County according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

That means about half the county’s active voters could choose the next county commissioner.

Unless there is a tie, the race will end with the Primary Election on June 14, 2022. If there is a tie, the tied candidates will “pick a card” to determine the winner, said County Clerk-Treasurer Lacey Donaldson. If the vote is tied or close, a candidate could ask for a recount, she said.

Donaldson said mail-in ballots for the primary election “will go out around May 16” and early voting for the primary election starts on May 28 at the County Clerk-Treasurer’s Office.

Those interested in serving as election workers should contact Donaldson at 775-273-2208. Election workers must be Pershing County registered voters, attend training sessions and be available to work at the polls for the entire day of the election from about 6 a.m to 7:30 p.m.


The county commission candidates were asked to state their political goals, if elected. Priorities included the community’s appearance, the housing crisis, economic growth and tax revenues.

Lovelock Fire Chief Rodney Wilcox said local leaders should organize beautification programs.

“The county and the city should work together to clean up this area to make it more appealing to people that come to look at jobs or start a business,” he said. “We need housing. You probably can’t find a place to rent in Lovelock. Also, we’re in a crisis right now as far as tax money coming in. We really need to work on bringing businesses here. We should be out recruiting.”

Farmer Chuck Sayles said that community cleanup would be at the top of his list but, as for bringing in new businesses, it should be “a two-way street,” he said. For example, in Green River, Wyoming, the mines built housing projects in exchange for tax breaks, Sayles said.

“My wife complains every time we come to town. What are we going to do to clean this place up?” Sayles said. “I know we need businesses here and I’m all for it but it shouldn’t be a giveaway to them. How can we work together to help you and you help us? And, I do agree definitely with cleaning the place up. It would make my wife really happy.”

Lovelock Public Works Supervisor Joe Crim said housing is the key to economic growth.

“I think housing is our number one issue. You can’t find a place to rent and you darned sure can’t find a place to buy…Somewhere along the line, we need to find some smaller developers that will come in here and build houses. If we get the housing started, people will come and there will be people to support the businesses that are here. When the distillery comes, and if it brings tourists, that’s going to support the city, the county and everywhere in between.”

Retired engineer David Skelton said his priority would be “revenue focused.” He’s a member of the emergency planning and economic development advisory boards and the 911 commission.

“We need to collect the revenues we can collect. AlertSense is a large focus. I think it's valuable to have that kind of system available. I’m pretty much working on the bulk of things I’d like to see a little bit better but I’m on the outside and all I can do is bring it up and push a little bit.” 


Candidates were asked how they would enforce county codes to clean up private property.

“The county has a code enforcer working in Grass Valley, Imlay and other areas on getting things cleaned up and straightened out,” Wilcox said. “I’ve been to a few city meetings and they are talking about getting a code enforcer…The county has actually started a fire inspection program. We are doing new businesses in the county and we are working with the city.”

“You can cause a lot of hard feelings with that,” said Sayles. “Some people can’t afford it. I think you need to look at all aspects of why they have junk around their house. Maybe we can come up with something to help them and not just smack them in the mouth and say, clean it up.”

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” said Crim. “The neighbors think it’s an issue and people driving through think it’s an issue but they don’t. The process is lengthy and hard and it takes a long time. That’s my short answer for a big problem.”

“We can’t address the city issue, that’s separate. The county code enforcer has made a big difference so I think we’re on the right track but it does take time,” said Skelton. “And, nobody wants to be told what to do by somebody else so that can become problematic.”


A citizen asked candidates if they would be in favor of hiring a county manager.

“In my opinion, a county manager would probably be money well spent,” said Wilcox. “That person would take care of everyday things and report to the commission. The commissioners would do policies and finances. The county commissioners, quarterly or at least twice a year,  could visit all the departments, go through all their buildings and see how things are going.”

“There’s pros and cons. It depends on the person you put in there. You could get a tyrant in there or a wonderful man or woman,” Sayles said. “You could be thankful as the devil or you can’t wait to get somebody out. You have to have very good oversight with some teeth to it.”

“I strongly support a county manager because I think you need a mediator between your department heads and your county commissioners,” said Crim. “The commissioners should be sitting in there doing their jobs and not having to oversee departments. A county manager would help expedite some of the issues that go on in the county now.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have the revenue to have a county manager at this time,” said Skelton. “But, the commissioners are in fact macro-managers for the county. That’s the way it is currently and until we have more revenue, that’s probably the way it’s going to stay.”


Candidates were asked for their opinion of the Burning Man festival.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Wilcox. “The people that make most of the money off it is Washoe County, Fernley makes a lot of money and the people that set things up. It’s a big money maker. If we can figure out a way to make some money off it, I think it's a great thing.”

“I don’t believe it should be a freebie for them,” said Sayles. “Why should we spend our revenue to help them? We should be reimbursed…Looks like it’s expanding beyond Burning Man. People start counting those dollar signs. We need to work with the organizer and try to get our money back.Everybody should benefit from it and it should be a joint process.”

“I’m neither for it or against it,” Crim said. I think people have the right to be able to use the land the way they want to do it…I do things in the desert that they might not do. As long as they don’t infringe on my right to use the land the way I want to, I’m not going to step on their toes. I’d like to see it not cost the county any money for that event. I’d like them to at least pay their way.”

“We never should have signed the settlement agreement,” said Skelton. “It’s been catastrophic. We will soon have the opportunity to renegotiate and we need to have in writing from them what they are responsible for. They promise this and then decide, no, we don’t have to do that whether it’s lodging or food…I don’t have a problem with the people that attend it except for the small minority that shoots our unified crime stats through the roof…They could do it in Washoe County, they have their own land but, that’s not going to happen, it’s cheaper to do it over here.”


As a farmer, Dean Heller said he’s the only candidate for governor from rural Nevada who understands water concerns for Lovelock Valley farmers at the end of the Humboldt River.

“Here’s the problem. We have over a hundred years of bad decisions made by the state (water) engineer,” he said. “There isn’t enough water at this point but it isn’t necessarily the snowpack. It’s the decisions made for more mines. I’m very pro-mines but you can’t empty the Humboldt River before it gets to every community and that is clearly what has occurred in this case.” 

If he is elected, Heller promised to review the state engineer’s water management system.

“What do I do about that as governor? I sit down with the state engineer and have this conversation. I’m going to say I need a better expert so I’m going to call Alan and you (Bennie Hodges) are going to come in with me when we have the conversation…It is a mess because we continue to allow the state engineer to make decisions that don’t make sense.”

To offset the costs of inflation, Heller promised to cut the state sales tax by 20 to 25 percent, end the commerce tax and suspend the state gas tax until gas prices are below $4 per gallon.