Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Three of the four candidates for mayor and six of the seven candidates running for the Fernley City Council laid out their positions on a variety of issues facing the city in a debate Thursday night at the Fernley Community Center.
The candidates spelled out their platforms on topics ranging from Consolidated Tax, water, growth, the city’s growing homeless problem, to whether the city needs its own police department and whether it should consolidate the North Lyon County Fire Protection District and Fernley Swimming Pool GiD into one city entity.
The debate was hosted by Kelly Brye, Lisa Bertok and Dana Uhlhorn, who asked each candidate seven questions, along with a chance to make an opening and closing statement.
The most contentious debate was between City Council Ward 1 candidates Ryan Hanan and incumbent councilman Ray Lacy. Hanan and Lacy sparred verbally on several issues, including water rates and the city’s relationship with state agencies and legislators, which affects its pursuit of a greater allocation of C-Tax revenues from the State as well as the City’s ability to work with the Nevada Department of Transportation on road issues.
“Our relationships with the state suck,” Hanan said.
When Lacy said the governor, legislators or other state officials often don’t return calls from City officials, Hanan pledged that he would be persistent in pursuing answers from state officials.
“I’ll write the governor, I’ll go to Carson City and ask in a meeting, ‘Are you getting my calls,’” Hanan said.
Lacy fired back that Hanan doesn’t understand.
“It doesn’t work that way, folks,” Lacy said. “It takes negotiation.”
When Hanan expressed frustration that a portion of the city manager’s salary and that of other city officials comes from the water and sewer funds, Lacy called that “misinformation.”
“Because they’re doing work for that department,” Lacy said.
Lacy said maybe someday the city will be able to afford a police department, but he said the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol have trouble keeping deputies and troopers because of their low pay.
“If we get a police department, how are we going to get quality people?” he asked.
Hanan said the City should have been putting money away for the past several years to fund a police department, but since it hasn’t done that, his idea is to start with a contract service.
By comparison, the other two debates were tame.
In the mayor’s debate, Mayor Roy Edgington said the city has seen an increase in its homeless population because Reno and Sparks have forced homeless people to leave. He said camping on federal land is allowed for 21 days, and while it’s illegal on private property, he said 72 hours notice is required to make people leave.
Dan McCassie proposed the city find a piece of property it could use as a homeless encampment and allow people a 30-day stay, in which people in need could get city and county services to help get them back on their feet.
Neal McIntyre said the City needs to get state and federal agencies involved to get homeless people the help they need.
Edgington said voters have twice voted to keep the North Lyon County Fire Protection District as a separate entity, but he said he would have no problem if voters wanted to consolidate the swimming pool with the city. McIntyre said he is in favor of consolidating all three entities, while McCassie said taking over the fire district would cost the city more money than the fire district spends now.
Current councilman Stan Lau and challengers Sara Thomas, Tim Bickerton and Jim Porter participated in the debate for the City Council Ward 3 candidates.
Lau and Thomas said the City needs to continue to pursue more C-Tax revenue, while Bickerton said the city needs to forget that idea and figure out other solutions to its problems, while Porter said the city needs to increase sales of the items that fund the C-Tax in order to increase the amount being allocated.
“We keep saying we need a police department and we’ll get it,” Bickerton said. “That’s doubtful. If anyone says they’re going to get you C-Tax, they’re deceiving you.”
Thomas said the City needs to find outside-the-box solutions in its pursuit of C-Tax revenue.