October 18, 2012 | Back to: News

Washoe County Commission Seat 1 candidates sound off

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Roughly 25 people turned out for a forum last Wednesday for the two candidates vying Seat No. 1 this November on the Washoe County CommissionThe candidates - Andrew Diss, a Democrat, and Marsha Berkbigler, a Republican - answered various questions about issues affecting both Washoe County and Incline Village, and some of the larger hurdles facing the commission in 2013 and beyond. Below are their answers to some of the questions.On what it means to be a commissionerAndrew Diss: "It's listening to your concerns. We are a public service. That means hearing your questions and concerns and the things that you are worried about and being your voice at the county level. Incline Village pays a very large portion of the county's revenues. I forget the exact figure, it's somewhere like only 50 percent comes back ... less than 50 percent comes back into the area. I see my role as trying to bring a lot of that money, try to keep as much money ... here up in Incline."Marsha Berkbigler: "Represent the constituents. That means this part of the district and also the valley part of the district. It's also communication, being sure you know what the interests and the concerns of the constituents are. Communication is key. The fire divorce (in the valley) is an example I go to. The fire divorce, why didn't the county commission go out and speak to the citizens? It's not clear to me why the commissioners haven't stepped up to the plate and realized this is an issue."On the top issues facing the county the next two yearsBerkbigler: "There are a number of issues. An attempt to resolve the ongoing lack of communication between the city of Reno and the county been an issue going on for a long period of time, that needs to be resolved. It's no question that jobs and the economy are the No. 1 issue impacting the county right now. Nevada has suffered probably more than any other state. Unemployment rates are higher than any other states. We are not going to be able to tax our way out of this problem. Senior centers, libraries ... education is very, very key to this county. Libraries are the one thing the county commission has control over in terms of education. We need to find funds to reopen some that already have been closed."Diss: "I do believe the economy and jobs situation in Nevada has to be our No. 1 priority on the commission. We have a lot of hardworking Nevada families, people are losing their jobs, can't afford to make their home payments, they mortgage payments. I'd like to take advantage some of this money that's come to the state (in the National Mortgage Settlement), $90 million that I feel has to be earmarked for mortgage relief purposes. Jobs and the economy ... and keeping an open dialogue with each other. This election is going to change a lot of things - local governments have a bad rep right now, they're not getting along and not listening to the people. IVGID and the commission as well, we need open dialogue and civil discourse."Position on the Incline tax revoltDiss: "The county has boggled it from the start, fought it tooth and nail every step of the way. Ever since the Supreme Court ruling came down, the county's been extremely slow in processing those refunds. They thought the Supreme Court was gonna come down on their side, and they weren't prepared to process those refunds. I think they're dragging their feet; I think these refunds should be coming back a lot sooner."Berkbigler: "It should be settled and it should be settled now. They've bungled it from the beginning. If they had settled this way back when, it would be over, instead of the millions now. And that's just for the three Supreme Court settlements. I understand there are more possible. (The county needs) to resolve this. This is raising interest ratios at a ridiculous amount. And they should resolve it not just because it's the right thing to do, but because this county is losing more and more money the longer they wait and let this go."On what they would do to speed up the paybacksDiss: "I would go to treasurer's office, say 'what the heck is taking so long' - put (Tammi Davis before the board) and hold her feet to the fire ... why are we barely 50 percent of the way through this?"Berkbigler: Well, her answer - I've already asked her - is she doesn't have enough staff to process it. That is not acceptable. You need to find the staff to process it. If I'm elected, I need to meet with other commissioners, and as a commission, let's resolve this ... and work with staff to hire more staff to get this processed."On if they would support Incline seeking to become its own township, town or countyDiss: "I'd be in favor of a more home rule system for Incline. The problem is, though, there are four other commissioners who don't represent them and don't take their feelings to heart."Berkbigler: "I'm fully supportive of an idea of that type. Anything you do you're going to have to go to the state legislature and get approval."On what challenges they see for Incline in the proposed TRPA Regional Plan UpdateBerkbigler: "Well I haven't read the Regional Plan Update ... I'd like to reserve my opinion until I see the full update."Diss: "I've been looking through some of the recommendations, I see a lot of improvements going on, changing land coverage regulations, incentives for people who use pervious driveways and decks, a form of a one-stop shop for business licenses. There are good things in there, but the No. 1 thing is we have to keep in mind to balance environmental concerns with development concerns. I do feel that if you're going to err on one side or the other... then it's protecting the environment. Business and developments are dependent on a healthy lake. For me, the environmental concerns are the No. 1 priority."On why people should vote for eachBerkbigler: "I've many years of experience, I've been a business person in this area for over 35 years ...I have a huge background in Nevada and Northern Nevada particularly. That's the value that I bring, I have this background that's going to be very valuable to sitting on this commission."Diss: "I see this election is a public service job interview, and I've dedicated adult life to public service. In working with US Senate, with my legislative experience, I will be able to hit the ground running."

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 18, 2012 12:37PM Published Oct 18, 2012 12:33PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.