City Council candidates meet at Harrah’s for first public forum |

City Council candidates meet at Harrah’s for first public forum

Six city council candidates met at Harrah’s Convention Center for the first public forum of the race.

The forum was sponsored by Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe and candidates were each asked set questions.

Two of the five South Lake Tahoe City Council seats will be up for grabs on Nov. 7

Both incumbents, Mayor Tom Davis and Councilwoman Judy Brown, are running. Three candidates who ran in 1998, Gunnar Henrioulle, Jerry Oldenkamp and Michael Phillips will run again, as well as newcomer Stephen Reinhard.

Jerry OldenKamp said he wanted to see incentives for new businesses.

He said he hopes commercial air service succeeds at the airport, but thinks the city may need to find a new plan.

“I wish (Allegiant) well but should it fail, I think we have run the course, and the city should look for alternatives,” he said.

He also said he wants to see the salaries of city employees increased.

“I have one main commitment – to help everyone in this town,” he said.

Gunnar Henrioulle made it clear that he supports a change in transportation.

“I think we should make the airport the nucleus of our transportation system,” he said.

“It is a necessity especially in the mountains where we can easily be cut off,” he said.

He said he wants to expand on the transportation system, which would include a trolley system and a water transportation system.

Stephen Reinhard said, “Change only comes with radical ideas and with that comes progress.”

He said he wants a year-round trolley system that runs on natural gas. He also said he supports a permanent location for a BMX track.

Reinhard said he wants to shut down the airport. He said that he spoke to the Federal Aviation Administration and the city could work out a 50-year payment plan to pay back the $12 million in FAA loans, a requirement if the airport should close.

He said he wants to turn the airport into a viable source of profit.

“I think it is time to cut our losses,” he said.

Michael Phillips said he doesn’t have any political agendas and said he hopes to make South Lake Tahoe better for everyone.

“Growing up I felt very fortunate to be home in Tahoe,” he said.

He said that he wants to keep police and fire salaries competitive. He stressed the importance of curbs and gutters and improvements to the airport.

Councilwoman Judy Brown, who has been a council member for the last four years, said that the job of being a council member is a challenging one.

She said that although she carefully studies city issues, she spends most of her time listening, but will fight for an issue when necessary.

She cited the importance of protecting city finances, maintaining city services, protecting the environment, moving forward with redevelopment, and the importance of the airport, which she called a key to economic success in the community.

She said she also wants to institute multi-year contracts for city employees, who now have single-year contracts.

“We need to plan ahead,” she said.

Mayor Tom Davis, who is running for a third term on City Council, cited redevelopment as an important step to make up for the sins of the ’50s and ’60s when commercial development had no rules.

“We have to fight hard for what we want and changes don’t come easy in this town,” he said.

He also cited redevelopment as a critical part of the economic vitality of South Lake Tahoe.

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