Transportation tops Henrioulle’s agenda |

Transportation tops Henrioulle’s agenda

Gunnar Henrioulle enters the last stretch of his South Lake Tahoe City Council election campaign with the same consistency and message he started months ago.

Transportation and energy represent the most pressing issues to the 60-year-old retired Lake Tahoe Airport employee vying for one of three open seats. They are now held by Mayor Brooke Laine and Councilmen Bill Crawford and Hal Cole, who is seeking re-election.

Beyond the candidate forums and interview circuit, Henrioulle — in his third try — has limited interaction with the bulk of South Shore residents willing to talk about the upcoming Nov. 5 election.

“I’m not one who gets singled out for small talk,” he said.

Henrioulle has no reported campaign contributions through an official committee filed with the city clerk’s office.

The community reaction to his campaign platform has been fleeting but memorable.

“Some people pull me aside and tell me wholeheartedly that it’s time we look at the issues of transportation and energy,” Henrioulle said Wednesday.

The longtime resident, who moved to Tahoe in 1971, called other issues such as tourism and recreation “collateral” talking points that are “subordinate to transportation.”

He fears an upcoming oil shortage may cripple our town — especially as tensions rise in the Middle East.

“The leadership (in this town) is unwilling or unable to face issues glaring out of the press,” he said.

He wants the city to take an active role in discovering new means of providing access and energy, advocating an old idea studied years ago that calls for a rail and motorists’ tunnel that runs between Twin Bridges and Meyers.

He would also like to see the basin tap into existing hydropower plants on the American River and develop a renewable energy plan to generate the approximate 85 megawatts necessary during the peak times.

“It’s important this issue of transportation and energy not be put into a box. The subject is right at the root of the financial stability of this community,” Henrioulle said.

He acknowledged his focus has given him a reputation for being a “one issue candidate,” taking aim at Tribune letters to the editor that provide that label.

“I’m a grandfather (of three). I care about quality of life issues,” he said.

The father of two children said his wife of 40 years, Ann Marie, is supportive of his quest for a City Council seat and called her an inspiration. The two met in Sacramento where they lived six blocks apart.

After working for the state Department of Water Resources in the capital city, he took a job at the Lake Tahoe Airport. His second stint at the airport ended when he retired with injuries last year.

“I’m not running (for City Council) to attend long meetings. I wish we were in a different situation,” he said.

He contends that dialogue surrounding Measure Z — which he reluctantly supports — has served as a distraction to bigger issues that should monopolize the conversation.

Measure Z is a coalition-spawned, two-tiered tax initiative on the November ballot that seeks to raise the motel room tax guests pay by at least $1 and doubles the business license fees to generate revenue for the city.

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

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