Assembly District 39 candidates make their final calls for votes
GARDNERVILLE – All four primary candidates for Assembly District 39 – which encompasses all of Douglas County and stretches along Lake Tahoe to include Incline Village – received an ovation from a room full of Sierra Nevada Republican Women for running a clean campaign.
In one of their last appearances before Tuesday’s primary election, John Dicks, Rick Gardner, James Settelmeyer and Barbara Smallwood discussed their platforms and answered questions from the audience.
Smallwood’s name was drawn first to speak before a packed house at Two Guys From Italy in Gardnerville on Wednesday.
“I want my grandson to know the same Nevada I’ve come to know,” she said. “I have my name on the master plan and I know how growth affects the state. We need to protect our water resources and sustain agriculture.”
Smallwood said she had the time, ability and commitment to serve in the Legislature.
Candidate Dicks said his only obligation would be to the voters.
“The public’s business should be conducted in public,” he said.
Dicks said he was a fiscal conservative who felt the state has to limit spending.
“People are already lining up to divide it up,” he said of a reported state surplus.
He said he didn’t believe in signs, which is why he hadn’t put any up.
Gardner, on the other hand, said he was proud that he had signs out.
Gardner said two sessions after the biggest tax increase in state history the state is running substantial surpluses.
However, Gardner said he didn’t sign a pledge not to raise taxes because there are some circumstances where revenue could be required, such as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office bond that will appear on the November ballot.
Should the bond be approved by voters, it would require authorization from the Legislature, which might be problematic for someone signing the pledge.
“There are certain situations where the revenue is needed,” he said.
Gardner does support a cap on state spending, as suggested by Bob Beer’s Tax and Spending Cap initiative.
“The people have spoken: They want a cap on government spending,” he said.
He said the Legislature should come up with a TASC-like measure that helps protect rural counties.
Settelmeyer pointed to his experience over the past seven years working with the Legislature on several agricultural boards.
He pointed out that the state budget has doubled over the past 10 years, but the state’s populations hasn’t.
Settelmeyer, who is the only candidate to sign the tax pledge, said the Legislature needs to take action on the TASC initiative at its session in 2007 rather than wait until a second petition and election in 2008 for it to take effect.
He told the Republicans that the state’s surplus has been reported at between $524 million and $880 million.
He said the state’s unfunded liabilities in the Public Employee Retirement System and the judges retirement system could be paid off if the surplus is applied to them over time with enough money to replenish the rainy day fund.
Settelmeyer, Smallwood and Gardner all said they would fight to prevent unfunded mandates from being passed down from the state level to local governments.
“I don’t believe in them,” Settelmeyer said, but pointed out that there isn’t much the state could do to stop federal mandates.
“The government has solved Medicaid,” he said.
“Give it to the states. What can you do about that? Not much.”
Gardner pointed out that one thing the state can do is put its financial house in order so it can handle increased pressure from the feds.
Smallwood said some unfunded mandates are the unintended result of legislation, which is then difficult to reverse.