Voting is a fundamental element of a democratic society and allows citizens to have their say in how their local government is run. Being an informed voter is just as important as voting itself, as it is every voter’s responsibility to know how public officials will articulate their civic duties.
Meet the Candidates Night, hosted by the Humboldt County Chamber of Commerce at the Convention Center, provided voters the opportunity to get to know those running for public office face-to-face and hear from them in a Q and A forum with questions randomly selected from local citizens.
Most of the official races for the county will be decided at the Primary Election on June 14 with early voting held May 28 to June 10, so if voters want their say, they should vote in the Primary Election, as well as the General Election on Nov. 8.
The West Hall of the Convention Center was packed with those curious about the candidates running for Humboldt County Recorder, Humboldt County Clerk, Humboldt County District Attorney, Humboldt County Sheriff, Humboldt County County Commissioner Seat C, and Humboldt County Commissioner Seat E, all of which are being contested. Other candidates in the running are unopposed, are running against a member of the same party, or are nonpartisan and will proceed directly to the General Election.
The three candidates running for Humboldt County Recorder are Tia H. Lange, Gene Hunt and Bailey Burhans. Lange and Burhans are running under the Republican party. One of the candidates will advance to the General election after the Primary election and run against Gene Hunt, as he is filed as an Independent candidate. Both Burhans and Lange were asked how they might improve the office if elected.
Lange responded that she would implement monthly staff meetings to better communicate within the office and open more lines of communication with other county offices, so that the recorder’s office can appropriately represent the people.
Burhans responded that she would staff the office through the current lunch hour, as she explained that it is an inconvenience for some people that the office is closed during that time.
The candidates for County Clerk, Tami Rae Spero (incumbent) and Leanne Robertson both filed as Republicans, so the race between the two will be decided at the Primary election in June. They each explained how their experiences would make them a great fit for the position.
Spero explained that she has been involved in the office since 1993, serving in various positions and handling an abundant workload that the office regularly sees.
Robertson said that her experience working at the Sheriff’s Department, serving in the Air Force, and growing up on a dairy farm give her the proper qualifications to handle the many responsibilities that the County Clerk holds.
Candidates Illyssa Fogle and Massey Mayo-Case are both running to serve a four-year term as the District Attorney and have filed as Democrats, thus, whoever wins the primary vote will then run against Anthony Pasquale at the General Election, as he is running as a Republican. Both candidates explained their motivations for running.
Fogle, who was a Deputy District Attorney in Washoe County, and owns the Diamond ‘A’ Motel in McDermitt, explained that after being personally affected by a known criminal in McDermitt, she gathered research and resolved that, in her opinion, there is a noticeable amount of “selective prosecution” done in Humboldt County, which she said she resents.
“Frankly, you people need to know that there’s been a considerable amount of selective prosecution, or not prosecuting their buddies, done by the current district attorney’s office,” said Fogle.
Mayo-Case, who has 14 years of experience in various practices and law and is currently practicing Criminal Defense in Lyon County and covers the Fernley Justice Court on the Public Defender’s Circuit, said that she values helping people find ways through the system — despite very difficult situations — and “giving a voice to the voiceless”. She said accepting that the position is not one of glamor.
“I think you’re dealing with difficult circumstances, difficult people, and difficult solutions. Sometimes there are no solutions when people’s lives or liberty are lost and I believe that victims should be afforded a voice in the courtroom,” said Mayo-Case.
The three candidates running for Humboldt County Sheriff — Andy Rorex, Victor Castaneda, and Angel Cardenas — all have extensive careers in law enforcement and have honored and protected the community through numerous threatening situations. Nevada Revised Statute 293.260(5) allows two scenarios to occur in the race for Sheriff. Either the two candidates who receive the highest votes will go on to the General Election, or if one candidate gets a majority of the votes, or more votes than the other candidates combined, in the Primary, that candidate will be elected to Office and their name will not be placed on the ballot for the General Election.
All three candidates were asked how they would recruit and hold employees if elected.
Cardenas responded that he would create a rewarding environment for employees and foster an open-door policy, to ensure that each individual officer would be able to honestly express their needs and to improve overall morale.
Rorex explained that he would look inwardly, towards the community and the younger generations to try to get them interested and invested in law enforcement so that they would want to come work for the Sheriff’s Department as young adults.
Castaneda said that he would advocate for a reserve program and added that he would personally put his patrol uniform on and be there to cover for officers that consider leaving the department because they do not get time off.
Commissioner Seat C
Ron Cerri (incumbent), Drew Jenkins, and Scott McColgan are all candidates running for a seat amongst the commissioners. Only one candidate will advance to the General Election because all nominees are running as Republicans. The gentlemen all explained the skills and experiences that qualify them to represent the people on the board.
Cerri, running for his third consecutive term, said that in the past eight years that he has served the community, he has been trusted with tax dollars, served on many different boards, has helped the commission to increase the wages of county employees, helped keep the commission out of debt, and invested time in solving very serious issues in the community, all without raising taxes.
Jenkins explained that his extensive career in subdivision design, infrastructure, people skills, and sales experience at Cashman Equipment, brings a fresh perspective to the table.
McColgan explained that he chose to live in Winnemucca, as he is not a Winnemucca native, and he greatly appreciates the outdoors, and his career at Union Pacific. He added that his “constitutional conservatism” will help him to navigate wise spending practices as well.
Commissioner Seat E
Five candidates are currently running for Seat E on the Board of Commissioners, currently occupied by Jim French, who is serving his last term. All candidates are running as Republicans, so only one nominee will advance to the General Election. Each of them have individual experience and skills to compliment the position and goals, which they expressed to the crowd.
Lorne Lyon, a marine veteran and former corrections officer and miner, also has experience handling complex budgets, and said that he would focus on growing the general fund for the county, with extensive budget restrictions if elected. His other top priorities would be fixing current issues with local water systems.
Kris Stewart, a local rancher in Paradise Valley, explained that she wants to help prioritize growing the small businesses in the community, just as she has grown her small business that she proudly plans to pass on to her daughter.
Michael Owens, owner of the local movie theater, Park Cinemas, and current City Council Member, said that he values local government and the importance of constitutional rights.
Lyndsee Jiminez, a local small business owner and board member/secretary of the Regional Planning Commission, said she wants to bring the right kind of growth to the community and has attended enough commissioner meetings to understand the full extent of the responsibilities of the board and sees where the board is sufficient and some areas where they lack. She said she wants to address the housing needs within the community and gather more ideas from the community.
Mark Evatz, who spent 35 years in the thick of the mining industry before he retired, said that extra resources should be allocated to servicing the community and meeting the needs of the rural areas, as well as saving for the future.
Some candidates are running unopposed this election season, and will appear on the Primary ballot and will be elected in the Primary, because they are nonpartisan. Michelle Miller is running for Hospital Board Seat E, unopposed. Sabrina Uhlmann is running for School Board Trustees Seat A, Lonnie Hammargen is running for Seat F, and Nicole Bengochea is running for Seat G.
Rhona Lecumberry is running unopposed for the Treasurer position and Andy Heiser is running unopposed for the Assessors position and both will proceed directly to the General Election.
Nonpartisan Opposed positions
Hospital Board and School Board are all nonpartisan positions, so they will be decided directly in the General Election. Dale Hartley and Jill Stepper and running for Hospital Board Seat B. School Board Seat B will either go to Ron Moser or Patrice Stewart and Seat E will be between Robert Johnson or Lori Woodland, and will all proceed to the General Election ballot.
The races for city positions, such as Mayor and City Council, will go directly to the General Election. There are other races for special districts, but those will not appear on the ballot at all because only one individual filed.