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Council race getting crowded

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Anyone wishing to see teamwork in action from a prospective South Lake Tahoe City Council candidate need only take a vehicle into the Lake Tahoe Auto Village.

Service Manager Michael Phillips, 35, intends to join incumbent Hal Cole, painter Mark Cutright, retired airport employee Gunnar Henrioulle, telecommunications consultant Kathay Lovell, Viking Motor Lodge manager Pete Mac Roberts, newspaper carrier Stephen Reinhard and Chris Haven Mobile Home Park owner John Upton in the race.

As of Wednesday, only Upton officially had filed and qualified to run in the Nov. 5 election, City Clerk Angie Peterson said.



The filing period ends in a little less than two weeks.

“I don’t think there’s a better qualified candidate,” Phillips said Wednesday. “I have no ties to special interests and no favors to return.”



Phillips, who is also a city parks and recreation commissioner and president of the Clean Tahoe Program, said he’s in touch with the working class in town and the business community.

He’s also a 30-year resident, who cares about the future of South Lake Tahoe, he said.

“I have a lot of roots here,” he said.

Phillips ran in the 1998 city council race, after friends urged him to do so.

He said he used the process as a learning experience and decided to go for a parks commission seat.

Phillips advocates recreation — Tahoe style.

He enjoys motorboating on the lake, mountain biking, Rollerblading, downhill and cross country skiing and kayaking with his dog Mattie — a canine that likes the water and riding in the kayak but hates to swim, he said.

From his own experience, Phillips believes he has a grasp of why people come here.

When Phillips traveled the nation from 1990 to 1997 for Mallory Ignition of Carson City, he discovered he longed to come home to Tahoe.

Phillips grew up in San Rafael.

“I always liked it here. We have a lot to offer. I think we need to realize what we have. If you just go home from work, eat dinner and watch TV, you could live anywhere,” he said.

He’s seeking a balance between attracting the visitors and keeping the residents happy.

“Do we want to be a town that welcomes tourists or a tourist town?” he asked. He defined the latter as a city that caters to tourists at the expense of the residents.

For example, Phillips feels property managers should share the responsibility of vacation-home renters with the tenants and rental agencies.

The city is reviewing a vacation-home ordinance that will serve to keep the peace and appease an industry that accounts for about a quarter of the city’s occupancy tax revenue.

“I think the homeowners can live with (rental homes), if they feel the enforcement is there,” he said.

To a certain degree, Phillips supports Measure Z, an initiative due to go on the ballot this fall that raises the motel room tax and doubles the business and professions fees. Together, the tax hikes are estimated to raise $1.3 million to help offset the city’s $2 million shortfall.

He prefers the two tax hikes separated because he thinks the measure will confuse the voters.

On the other hand, he realizes the city will face dire consequences without the revenue.

“If it doesn’t pass, we’re in trouble,” he said.

Phillips advocates maintaining a stable infrastructure such as saving core services like police, fire and snow removal.

However, the candidate wants to promote more fiscal responsibility in the council such as designations made to studies and surveys. He cited the $15,000 city manager recruitment and $23,000 Godbe community survey.

“It’s like they have a $15 million checkbook, and they’re spending $20 million,” he said.


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