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May 24, 2012
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Election 2012: The race for Washoe County Commission Seat One

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — While the 10-candidate IVGID primary is arguably the most important race for locals, another seat in which Incline Village/Crystal Bay residents have a say is Washoe County Commission Seat One.The seat, currently occupied by John Breternitz, covers the Lake Tahoe area of Washoe County, and the person who succeeds Breternitz will be an important figure for Incline Village.There are three candidates on the June 12 primary — Marsha Berkbigler, Andrew Diss and Skyler Kachurak. Voters will be asked to choose two of the three candidates; those with the most votes will square off in the Nov. 6 general election.Each of the three was given two weeks to submit a statement of no more than 1,000 words to better inform voters in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. Kachurak, 22, a Democrat, did not respond to a follow-up email and phone call asking for his statement.Below are the verbatim statements from Berkbigler and Diss, which ran in today's print edition.

Northern Nevada is my home and it is where I have grown up. I am a product of our public school system and my family and friends live here, so I have a big stake in seeing our local government work for us and address our needs. Over the last few years we have seen very little action taken by the county commission to address the major problems affecting our community. I am seeking to change this behavior and bring back a high level of accountability and some common sense solutions to local government.One issue in particular that the current county commission has failed to properly serve the people of North Lake Tahoe on is property taxes. Even though the Nevada Supreme Court determined that Washoe County residents around Lake Tahoe have been overpaying their property taxes for years, the county commission has still mandated that responsible tax payers continue to pay even when they are due a refund. This is unacceptable. If elected, I will fight to bring accountability and tax fairness back to the commission. Punishing our tax payers is not the right way to run government, especially when the government overreached and was found to be at fault.Another area where I will fight fiercely on is job creation. Northern Nevada is still having a hard time shaking off the effects of the recession and putting people back to work will be one of my top priorities. One of the areas in which we are specially poised to make growth is in the renewable energy sector. As a matter of simple geography and geology, our county is situated in an ideal location to tap into Nevada's abundant geothermal energy reserves. By harnessing this energy source, we can put thousands of our residents to work by building new plants, constructing new transmission lines across the border to sell our energy to California, and by creating a research and development program with UNR to further technological innovation. There is no reason why we cant transform Northern Nevada into the epicenter of renewable energy development and technology.The economy holds the key to so many other functions of government that its importance cannot be stressed enough. By having more people employed, we will see more money spent in our economy, more homes purchased, and a rise in property values. This in turn will lead to more money available to spend in our school district, more money for public safety and our first responders, and more money for the other important programs that the county runs such as senior services and our parks department. Everything is tied to the economy which is why I have placed such a big emphasis on the energy sector. We need to get away from relying solely on a just a few industries for the bulk of our revenue and look to the future and broaden our base.We cannot achieve any of this on our own though. Working with other local government entities and private businesses is vital to our success. The high level of rancor and animosity between the current members of the county commission and other governing bodies has made getting anything accomplished almost impossible. It is apparent that term limits are doing their job and over the next few years we will be able to rid ourselves of those individuals who have let their egos get in the way and have forgotten that they were elected to serve the best interests of the people. If I am elected, my door will always be open to those I serve and to those who have the best interests of our community at heart. Election to the commission will be the biggest accomplishment of my life and it will not be something that I take lightly.I look forward to coming to your doorstep and asking for your vote. Words can only go so far. I believe that by personally meeting a candidate you will be able to judge them much more effectively and see what they are made of.

What an exciting couple of months this has been since I decided to enter the race for Washoe County Commission District 1. For someone who grew up in politics, has worked in the government, regulatory, and community relations industry my entire career, and has lived in Washoe County for more than 50 years, running for office has been a real education. I've had the opportunity to speak to so many of our neighbors who love our community as much as I do and who are worried about the growth and development of businesses that will enable our community to recover from the recent economic recession.Serving in an elected capacity in any office is a privilege and elected officials shouldn't take that responsibility for granted or allow their personal agenda or ego to take precedence over the needs and desires of the residents of our community. We have some tough problems to address here in Washoe County and I feel it is the responsibility of our elected officials to work with each other and County residents to develop workable solutions. We need to grow business so we can increase employment throughout the County. The Governor has developed an economic diversification team with the goal of adding 50,000 new employees in the next two years. EDAWN has a new leader who is working hard at bringing new businesses to our area who will put down roots and hire Nevada residents. One way our municipal elected officials can help in this process is to resolve to work together for the betterment of the greater community. Disagreements about how best to assure the protection and safety of our residents are going to occur, but they don't have to be contentious and result in unresolvable divisions.Commission District 1 is the only voice Incline Village has on the Washoe County Commission, and I believe elected officials are responsible to the people who elect them. That means I will try to always be available to discuss any issues and will represent the Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents on issues impacting the Lake. I intend to spend time at the Lake speaking with interest groups regarding lake clarity, economic diversification, building and development, safety and security, road use, IVGID, and any other issues of concern to the Lake families.Tourism is an important issue throughout the County, but particularly at the Lake. We are fortunate to have the year-round recreational entertainment found only at Lake Tahoe and we need to work with the RSCVA to advertise the Lake and bring more visitors to our area.There are many issues impacting Incline Village that may not directly impact the rest of Washoe County. The tax relief payback and the TRPC are two examples, and both are issues I'll work on to assure the needs of the Incline Village andamp; Crystal Bay residents are monitored and any issues resolved to the benefit of the community. It is important that the interests addressed by TRPC benefit the Nevada side of the Lake as well as the interests of the California side.I believe the main issue of concern that impacts all of Washoe County is the need for the elected officials from Reno, Sparks, Washoe County and the General Improvement Districts to work together as a team who puts the best interests of County residents first. The community as a whole needs to be certain we are protected in the event of wildfires, that our parks and public lands are safe and open to be used by families, and that our elected officials are serious about the safety and security of all residents. Should I be elected, I commit to work with all sides regardless of the issue with the goal of reaching agreement and positive outcomes.I hope you will share with me your thoughts and suggestions for our community with me over the next few months of the campaign and will continue to work with me should I be fortunate enough to be elected. I believe by working together we can find new solutions and new ideas for making our community stronger.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 24, 2012 11:36AM Published May 24, 2012 11:33AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.