Election: 2 incumbents, 4 new candidates vie for 3 IVGID seats
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Less than a year ago, candidates vied for the chance to be appointed to the Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustees to fill the position unexpectedly vacated by Phil Horan.
With that process still fresh on people’s minds, candidates are gearing up again to compete for spots on the board.
Trustee Peter Morris has decided not to run again, opening up his spot and Incumbents Matthew Dent and Sara Schmitz will be defending their seats. Candidates Blane Johnson, Yoland Knaak, Mickaela Tonking and Frank Wright will be looking to unseat the incumbents or fill the empty seat.
Incumbent Matthew Dent
Dent was appointed to the board in 2015 and was elected to his seat in 2016. When he was appointed to his position he said, “I want to serve my community, I can add value, and I think it will be fun.”
Despite the board having its ups and downs and experiencing turbulence during the five years that he’s served, he still maintains that it has been fun and a rewarding experience.
“Homeowners have asked me to help keep progress moving forward in the direction that the community wants, towards a more transparent and efficient local government; and I’d be honored to serve again in that role,” Dent said.
During Dent’s 2016 campaign he made several pledges:
Speaking up when I sense the board and staff are not following the policies, practices, and statutes.
Asking tough questions and doing what is morally right.
Opening up IVGID’s expenses and taking a deep dive into the line item budget.
Challenging business as usual when it comes to inconsistent and inaccurate reporting.
Building rapport and rebuilding communication that for far too long has been inconsistent.
Listening to your concerns, questions and ideas.
“I’m proud to be a part of that team and how even through adversity, we worked together and in partnership with the community to make our home the best place to live on earth,” Dent said. “Personally, I’m proud to have upheld all of my pledges to voters from the 2016 campaign, and excited to build upon them during the next four years.”
Dent wants to continue the momentum the board has built.
“The areas I would like to focus on in my next term are around improving the financial reporting, internal controls, setting aside the resources necessary to replace the Burnt Cedar Pool and Incline Beach House, and finally moving forward with repairing/replacing the next phase of the effluent pipeline,” Dent said.
Dent is a construction executive for a luxury home builder and represents Incline Village and Crystal Bay on the Nevada League of Cities.
To learn more, visit matthewdent.com.
Incumbent Sara Schmitz
Schmitz has been serving in her seat since Jan. 2020 after she was appointed by the Washoe County Commission to fill the seat vacated by Horan.
Schmitz, who moved to Incline Village full-time in 2016, first ran for trustee in 2018. She knows the value of, and has a history of being an engaged member of the community so she immediately became involved with Incline and the IVGID board. However, she was surprised by some of the decisions the board made and how those decisions were being made.
“I felt that, as citizens, it is important for us to step up and be engaged and be a good representative for our community,” Schmitz said.
She immediately started meeting members of the community and learning as much as she could. In hindsight, she said, she was fighting an uphill battle being new to the community but in the end, she lost by only 14 votes.
Following the 2018 election, Schmitz helped form the non-profit Incline Village Crystal Bay Community 1st which helps inform and educate the residents about community issues.
When Horan’s seat opened up late last year, the community came out in full force to show their support for her.
During her short time on the board, Schmitz has worked to make the finances of IVGID more transparent.
Schmitz was immediately elected as Board Treasurer and was elected to the audit committee. On the audit committee, she has worked with Dent to change the committee charter. Instead of the committee consisting of three trustees, it will now be two trustees and three at-large members of the community.
The impetus of the change was so that the committee would have, “community involvement with people who have experience with accounting or auditing,” Schmitz said.
She’s also worked closely with the new director of finance to establish internal controls, another move to make IVGID more transparent.
If elected, Schmitz would like to make sure the district is funding the maintenance of existing infrastructure like the recreation center and Burnt Cedar pool. She also has the improvement of the effluent pipeline as top of mind.
To learn more about Schmitz, visit https://electsaraschmitz.com.
As a 5-year Incline Village resident, Knaak has stayed up-to-date on the IVGID board’s issues and regularly participates in meetings.
Now, she’s throwing her hat in the ring for the seat Peter Morris is vacating.
Knaak is retired from a life-long registered nursing career and is managing two family trusts. She was supervisor of a Home Health Branch office for five years and owned a business for over three years.
Knaak describes herself as a fiscal conservative and is committed to fiscal transparency.
If elected, she would work to fix long-term problems in the community that could have detrimental environmental impacts such as fixing the effluent pipeline, lining the effluent pond and fixing the Burnt Cedar Pool.
“The good news is that the current board has started working on these problems,” Knaak said. “I want to be part of the board that ensures that they are fixed.”
Knaak said she believes in being open, honest and transparent.
“I support and uphold the US Constitution and Nevada State Law,” Knaak said. “I value our military, veterans, businesses, students and the elderly. Lastly, I believe in the saying, ‘Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly … ‘ from the Book of Micah.”
To donate or get a yard sign or want to endorse or volunteer with Knaak, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 775-413-5112.
Local business owner and 40-year resident, Blane Johnson is also hoping to serve on the IVGID board.
The Sunbear Realty owner has considered running for a long time and now that his daughter is off to college, he felt now is the perfect time.
“I’m not running against anybody,” Johnson said. “I’m running for the board.”
Johnson worked in the ski industry for many years and learned to navigate an industry that is beholden to ever changing weather and fluctuating financial trends.
In addition to owning his own business, Johnson has been an active member of the community.
He was named Realtor of the Year for Nevada in 2012, he served as the president of the Nevada Realtors Association and Incline Village Realtors Association, he was the co-founder of the Incline Community Business Association, and he served on the board of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau. He’s also volunteered as a youth soccer coach, tee ball coach, and with the Incline Homework Club, Project Mana and Northern Lights.
Johnson hopes to bring an even temper and an open mind to the board.
“I don’t have an agenda,” Johnson said. “I just want to bring a balanced community perspective to all the issues.”
He added that he welcomes conversation on all issues and aims to be subservient to the community.
To learn more, visit https://blane4ivgid.com.
Michaela Tonking hopes to give back to the community she was raised in by serving as an IVGID trustee.
Tonking grew up utilizing IVGID’s facilities. After moving away to get her bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from the University of Colorado Boulder and an additional master’s Urban Education Policy from Brown University, she felt her home calling and moved back to Incline.
She now works as a consultant on school funding models for states across the country including Nevada.
Tonking ran for Horan’s seat in 2019 and was one of the top choices for half of the board. But she wasn’t chosen after the board couldn’t come to a consensus which sent the decision to the Washoe County Commission. Tonking said she learned a lot from that experience.
“One of the pieces of feedback I got was that I didn’t know enough about the issues,” Tonking said. She’s since been getting up-to-speed on the issues facing the community.
Tonking wants to continue maintaining and improving the current infrastructure but also wants to look for ways to expand. She is interested in finding new revenue sources, like expanding summer operations at Diamond Peak.
As someone who was so influenced by Incline’s community, she wants to continue expanding opportunities for community orientated activities like snowshoe hikes or conversation cafes and more youth sports opportunities.
In addition, she wants to bring in the community to work on district solutions together and make the issues more accessible to the public through zoom, podcasts, newsletters or info-graphics.
To learn more, visit http://www.michaelatonking.com.
The sixth candidate for the board is longtime resident Frank Wright.
Wright has unsuccessfully run for a position on the board several times. Despite his losses, he has attended and contributed during almost every IVGID meeting.
“I understand the issues and I understand how to make the community better,” Wright said, and added that he wants to make the community “super.”
Part of his involvement with IVGID includes actively trying to expose corruption in the district, including exposing illegal land sales, Wright said.
“If we had internal controls, we would’ve never had illegal land sales,” Wright said.
In addition to internal controls, Wright would like to help the district get its finances in order and he’s pleased with the new direction of the audit committee.
Another issue Wright wants to tackle is establishing laws and regulations for short-term rentals.
Wright said that even though STRs have always been an issue for the community, this pandemic exacerbated the problem.
He also would like to be on a committee to help update Ordinance 7.
Wright taught history and government at the secondary level for nearly 40 years and has been actively involved in the community as a basketball and tennis coach at North Tahoe High School.
He said his experience as a teacher helps him to communicate, get to know people, be patient and listen.
“I hope the members of the community make a smart decision when electing the new trustee,” Wright said.
To learn more, visit https://electfrank.org.
The election will be held Nov. 3. To update registration, the mailed form must be postmarked Oct. 6 and the online deadline is Oct. 29.
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