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Commission candidates work out campaign bugs

Michael Schneider

Two of the primary’s three candidates for the Douglas County District Four seat answered questions ranging from an increase in the sales tax to redevelopment to general improvement district consolidation Wednesday night at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

The debate, which included incumbent Don Miner and challenger Kirk Ledbetter, was delayed nearly two hours as Carson City Cable representatives contracted to film the debate, sat in construction traffic on U.S. Highway 50. Kelly Chase of the Douglas Business Council, which sponsored the forum, said the other Republican candidate, former commissioner Bob Pruett, declined to participate,

As night fell, representatives of many species of Lake Tahoe’s insect world came into the clubhouse to investigate the bright camera lights.

“I’m just trying to see how many gnats can fit onto the head of my pen,” Business Council representative Steve Teshara said when told it was his turn to ask a question.

However, the bug problems died down long enough for candidates to concentrate on questions.

Ledbetter, Harvey’s Resort Hotel/Casino customer services systems manager, told the audience he is in support of a county initiative to increase sales tax by a quarter-cent to offset a loss in room tax to Tahoe tourism promotion.

“If we’re not successful, and it’s always a challenge to pass a tax increase in Douglas County, then we should go to the State Legislature,” Ledbetter said.

Miner said he would prefer to look at other alternatives, rather than forcing the tax though state legislation.

“There are many potential sources,” Miner said, adding he was not prepared to identify any keys to the problem. “We’d have to listen to the public and look at alternatives.”

Both candidates said they supported redevelopment in the valley portion of the county.

Miner said he would support private business coming into the Indian Hills redevelopment area to provide amenities residents want, such as a bike trail, rather than increasing taxes to provide them.

“We’re looking at business partners to come in and stimulate retail sales growth,” he said.

Ledbetter said he avidly supports getting a solid infrastructure into the county though redevelopment projects. However, he said Douglas may be doing too much at once.

“There may be too many redevelopment areas,” Ledbetter said, suggesting the county learn from South Lake Tahoe, which has planned two projects for several years. “Douglas should focus on one redevelopment area at a time.”

Although there is no discussion about GID consolidation at the commission level, according to Miner, he said the county staff is exploring options.

Douglas County has more improvement districts than any other Nevada county, almost more than all other counties combined, according to Chase. Several of them exist in the lake portion of the county.

“We will be responsive to helping them if they want to consolidate,” Miner said, stressing it was up to the districts and their constituents.

Ledbetter agreed with Miner on the GID consolidation issue.

“We should go to the voters and see if they’re in favor of consolidation,” he said. “If there are ways to combine them and make them economically viable, then we should look at it.”

Since all three candidates are Republicans, under Nevada election law if any one of them receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the September primary, he will be declared the winner.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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