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Tahoe Chamber announces election endorsements (Opinion)

Bob Anderson and Steve Teshara
Guest column

Following a detailed review of selected local races and ballot measures, the Tahoe Chamber Board of Directors has announced its endorsements and recommendations.

We are encouraged by the number of candidates running for election to the South Lake Tahoe City Council and South Tahoe Public Utility District. More than half the council candidates are business leaders. We see this as a positive.

City Council — The Vetting Process

Nine candidates are running for two open seats on the city council (Editor’s note: There were 10 candidates until earlier this week when one, Luca Genasci, dropped out). Candidates were invited to participate interviews with the Chamber’s Candidate Endorsement Committee and six accepted. All 10 were invited to participate in our virtual Candidates Forum held on Thursday Sept. 10 and eight participated.

Interview and forum questions explored each candidate’s understanding of the roles and responsibilities of serving on the council and evaluated their ability to resolve disparate points of view. We asked their perspectives on community-based policing, affordable housing, community planning, environmental stewardship and maintaining a vibrant and sustainable local economy. Given the projections of tough fiscal times ahead, budgeting was another major topic. Since that process, one of the candidates

Council Endorsements

Based on our vetting, Tahoe Chamber endorses Cristi Creegan and John Friedrich as the candidates with the best overall preparations and qualifications. Each will bring a unique set of experiences and a fresh perspective to the council.

Both gave thoughtful and articulate responses to the questions asked and committed to the significant time required to serve on the council and as a city representative on other boards and committees. They each credibly described how they would reach out to constituents and how they would work to implement policies that benefit our community and local economy.

Creegan is a small business owner, a mother of two school-aged daughters, and an active member of community and educational organizations. She is an attorney, one of the owners/founders of Cowork Tahoe, and has served in local leadership positions for the last 23 years, including 10 years as a board member of Live Violence Free.

Friedrich is a small business owner, the father of one school-aged daughter, and an active member of the environmental community. He previously managed renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicle programs at Liberty Utilities, and this spring founded the Green Jobs Coalition. He is a cofounder of the Small World group and a member of the city’s transformational change committee.

South Tahoe Public Utility District Board of Directors

Three candidates are running for two open four-year seats while four people seek election to one open two-year term. Tahoe Chamber invited each of the seven candidates to respond to a series of questions focusing on their understanding of district issues. These included infrastructure replacement, budgeting, rate-setting, PCE contamination, and the role of the district in broader community issues.

For the available four-year terms, we recommend voter attention to the candidacy of David Peterson, a retired civil engineer making his first bid for the STPUD Board. He spent his career in private practice doing a great deal of work with public agencies.

He was an elected director of the San Juan Water District in Granite Bay for 11 years. During his tenure, the district constructed a multi-acre solar facility. We also recognize the knowledge of district issues possessed by Duane Wallace. A prior board member, Wallace has served past several months as an appointed member, stepping in for the late Jim Jones. Wallace is a strong supporter of identifying appropriate ways in which STPUD can reduce barriers for the developers of deed-restricted affordable housing projects, a vital community need.

Environmental Research Scientist Shane Romsos gets Tahoe Chamber’s endorsement for the two-year term. He has 28 years of experience in natural resource policy, research, monitoring, and management, most of which have been gained here in the Tahoe region. He has a solid understanding of the STPUD’s needs and opportunities. He knows reliable water and sewer services are foundational to our local economy and supports STPUD’s efforts to give local businesses contract priority to help create local jobs and promote economic and environmental sustainability.

We also appreciate that Romsos is a graduate of Tahoe Chamber’s Leadership Lake Tahoe program.

City of South Lake Tahoe Measure S

On July 14 the city council unanimously placed Measure S on the Nov. 3 ballot. If approved by voters, Measure S will increase the city sales tax from 7.75% to 8.75%. City officials say Measure S will provide a locally-controlled source of funding to address local service priorities residents have indicated they value.

Tahoe Chamber understands the city is facing an ongoing deficit of nearly $6.5 million. That being said, as a business organization, we do have concerns with imposing more burdens on local small businesses. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created an uncertain economy and many businesses are struggling to survive.

The sales tax in neighboring Douglas County and Carson City will be lower by comparison. Although Measure S is entitled “The South Lake Tahoe Fire Protection, Emergency Response, City Services Measure” it is a general tax so there is no guarantee the funds will be used for those purposes. Finally, Measure S contains no sunset clause.

All that being said, we recognize cuts to essential services are likely if the city does not secure additional revenue. We have surveyed Tahoe Chamber members who will be affected by a sales tax increase and found that more than 50% of those responding indicated support for Measure S. Accordingly, despite our concerns, we urge city voters to favorably consider a yes vote on Measure S.

Vote NO on California Proposition 15

Proposition 15 is a $12.5 billion a year property tax increase. Contrary to what its supporters claim, Prop 15 will not help schools and local governments recover from the COVID-19 induced economic crisis. Small businesses, already reeling from current economic conditions, will be among the most vulnerable should Prop 15 pass. Dramatically higher commercial property taxes will result in lost businesses and jobs and higher consumer prices.

Tahoe Chamber has joined with the California Chamber of Commerce and a bipartisan coalition consisting of more than 1,500 organizations, businesses, elected officials and individuals throughout the state opposing Prop 15. For more information visit noonprop15.org.

The endorsements were submitted by Chamber Board Chair Bob Anderson and CEO Steve Teshara on behalf of the board.


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