INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Political advertising notwithstanding, the traditional start of the election season is Labor Day weekend, and on the local front things are slated to start heating up. This coming week will see the report out and community forum on the IV/CB 2020 listening groups and the report of the Rural Development Council, then in the weeks following the Bonanza has scheduled a series of candidate nights.
IV/CB 2020 is one of those local efforts that does not, in my opinion, admit a partisan or ideological divide (though I have no doubt that some will try to make it so — please, people, prove me wrong). I’ve been involved in various visioning activities since I came here in 1995, from Incline Vision to Pathways 2007, to the work that led up to the TRPA Regional Plan Update, and in my view IV/CB 2020 is (a) one of the best and most thorough efforts to capture the widest possible representation of the range of views and concerns in our community, and (b) the most timely in terms of the likelihood that it could make a difference.
One of the things that has interfered with past visioning activities making a difference has been the lack of anyone who could/would listen committedly to what the residents want. IVGID was often more than willing, but had neither the authority nor the budget to implement large-scale change. Washoe County had and has the authority but only seems to remember that IV/CB is part of the county when it comes to collecting (or now reluctantly refunding) taxes. This has led to resignation on the part of many, myself included, that nothing meaningful could be done unless we achieved some degree of autonomy, an effort that has never been successful.
The process of the TRPA Regional Plan Update, spurred by Nevada AB 271, seems to have got the county’s attention and, dare I say, interest. The board of commissioners earlier this year endorsed in principle the plan’s vesting in local jurisdictions’ greater accountability for determining their own character, and the IV/CB 2020 input points clearly toward conclusions about what this community wants.
Speaking of having a hand in our own destiny, while the national and state races in November unquestionably have an impact on that destiny, the local races — IVGID trustee, fire board, county commissioner, and the rest — affect us much more directly and deserve some serious attention. Again, I don’t see the relevance of party affiliation in these races which are, on the ballot at least, non-partisan.
The Candidates Nights scheduled in September and early October will have a different format this year — candidates will be asked questions directed to them individually from the Bonanza staff, the public and each other. This is a definite step up from the stilted format of a question posed to the entire panel and answered by each in turn and should make for clearer delineations of the differences between the candidates.
One question I will be submitting to some candidates will be “What are you running FOR?” I mean this as distinct from “What are you running AGAINST?” I for one am much more interested in the answer to the first than to the second. Anyone can be “against” — against spending, against tax increases (or taxes at all), against recklessness, etc. But what does that tell us? No one is likely to be for these things, so to campaign “against” begs the question of what the candidate is “for.” What affirmative steps will they take? What will they start doing, stop doing, or do differently? And I’m not talking about “against” positions thinly disguised as “for” — “I’ll make government more accountable!” OK, how? What will you do?
Now that I’ve resumed this column I’ve had candidates contact me wanting to talk. I’m willing to talk to any and all who want to talk to me, but candidates be forewarned, the above is what I’m going to want to talk about. We’ve seen a very small group of individuals do a disproportionate amount of damage over the recent past by swinging the axe of “against.”
As a result of this we’ve lost good staff, had the IVGID Board tied up in knots, spent fortunes on lawsuits I can only view as frivolous and I believe it’s time to say enough! The most rabid “against-ers” were eliminated in the primary, but I smell the same wine in new, more genteel bottles with some of the candidates who made it to the November ballot, and I’m going to be watching for it. I invite you to do the same.
— Ed Gurowitz has a doctorate in psychology and is a management consultant. He has lived in Incline Village since 1995 and is active in the Democratic Party. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.