Cutright wants to breakup status quo |

Cutright wants to breakup status quo

Thrust into the election scene for the first time, Mark Cutright has received an eye-opening experience during the last few months as he runs for one of three seats open on the South Lake Tahoe City Council.

Cutright, a longtime local man who paints during the summer and skis in the winter, said the word on the street he hears “on the ground level” involves support.

“I hear, ‘I’m going to vote for you,'” Cutright said of people he encounters at the grocery store and other hangouts where residents are spotted.

These people openly share their opinions of city problems with the 46-year-old candidate, he said.

With no official campaign committee organized, Cutright shows no campaign contribution recorded with the city clerk’s office.

“I believe the locals have a choice in this election. They can either have the ‘good-old-boy club’ running the council, or it can be split,” he said.

He compared the two structures by characterizing the former as yes people all buying into the known establishment around town and the latter as the members questioning authority. He considers himself falling into the blended group.

He believes it’s important to stack a council with some critical thinkers who refrain from special-interest groups instead of “everybody carte blanching.”

A common concern among candidates is low voter turnout. About a quarter of the city’s more than 8,000 registered voters cast their ballots in the last election.

But Cutright is ready for anything at this point.

He’s run his own painting business for 26 years, where he’s experienced the “ups and downs” of the Tahoe economy and seen a lot of changes.

About two decades ago, Tahoe revolved around more of a party atmosphere — with transients dominating the profile of the city, he’s observed. Now he’s noticed people staying longer and developing a sense of maturity about settling down in town.

Cutright grew up outside Chico and moved to South Shore in 1975.

Tahoe, he says, has seen a trend toward people moving into the basin to escape the urbanization of other areas. He acknowledged that people move here for the dream of Tahoe, and he’d like to help them fulfill it. He said he’s seen these starry-eyed wannabes as a ski instructor at Heavenly Ski Resort for three years.

The city’s big job lies in competing for the visitors. He acknowledged the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority’s latest advertising campaign promoting the “dream” experience of the blue world of Tahoe as a step in the right direction. As a recreation advocate, Cutright wants to promote special events in town to generate tourism. He thinks the city should help spearhead such efforts with the help of the LTVA, pointing to motorcycle rallies in Reno as examples of events that attract mass audiences.

“Selling the dream is nice, but we’ve got to give them something else,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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