CANDIDATE FORUM HIGHLIGHTS DIFFERENCES

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 Council candidates (Left to Right) Dave Ballweg, George Rapson, CJ Larsen, Cindi Delaney, Dave West and Mike Benham at the Forum.

Council candidates (Left to Right) Dave Ballweg, George Rapson, CJ Larsen, Cindi Delaney, Dave West and Mike Benham at the Forum.

Six non-partisan candidates for Mesquite City Council and two Republicans contesting Assembly District 19 squared off at the May 9 candidate forum sponsored by the Mesquite Local News. The event was attended by nearly 200 local residents who heard responses to questions asked by panelists Ken Cook, Karen Beardsley and Barbara Ellestad. The event was moderated by Jeff Powell and held at the Eureka Resort Casino.

State Assembly Republican Primary

The first candidates to address the forum were incumbent assemblyman Chris Edwards and his primary opponent Connie Foust.

Edwards said his priorities for his first session in 2015 and the upcoming session in 2017 will be the same, jobs, education reform, veterans and accountability. Edwards pointed out his success in legislation that allows the de-centralization of Clark County School District and that “we passed 17 bills for veterans.” On jobs Edwards said that he had also worked with Mesquite Regional Business to connect them with funds and projects that will result from the proposed Faraday plant in North Las Vegas.

Edwards also said he was working with a group of legislators to pass a bill creating an inspector general in Nevada. “That would be the one mechanism that would truly control costs and waste across the state and save us millions upon million of dollars.”

AD 19 candidate Connie Foust addresses the Forum as Assemblyman Chris Edwards looks on.

AD 19 candidate Connie Foust addresses the Forum as Assemblyman Chris Edwards looks on.

Foust stressed her opposition to new taxes. “Taxes are inhibiting prosperity in our country,” said Foust. She agreed with a panel question about the need for taxes saying “We have to have taxes, and I pay them and have no problem with that, but I believe in the free market system.” Foust went on to say that she did object however, “to putting good money after bad particularly with our school system.” Foust said that she would like to see reforms done rather than putting more money into the education system.

The commerce tax passed by the last session was also a target for Foust. “The commerce tax is going to affect every business person regardless of whether they gross four million dollars or not. They are already talking about dropping it to one million dollars and it is going to put people out of business.” Foust argued that taxing on gross receipts “just doesn’t make sense.”

Asked about other taxes Foust said “I will not raise taxes while in office, of any sort.”

Edwards responded “I did not vote for the commerce tax when it came to the floor; I voted against it. I believe it sets a dangerous precedent. The rates can be changed rather quickly.” Edwards suggested that money could be saved in the education budget by outsourcing things such as transportation to get a more competitive system.

City Council Races

Six of the seven candidates for council were present. Candidate Brian Wursten was called away for a family medical emergency just before the forum began.

All positions on the council are non-partisan. There are three seats available with seven candidates. Each candidate was asked several questions by the panel on a variety of city issues.

Dave Ballweg, a Mesquite businessman who has been active in local government was asked if he was flexible and how he would make decisions. “Whenever I come up with an opinion I do work ahead of time and people sometimes think my definitive opinions reflect inflexibility. I am not inflexible,” said Ballweg. He gave several examples of how he changed his opinion after citizens had spoken.

 

Ballweg used as an example his opposition to medical marijuana, and noted how he had worked with Councilman George Rapson to insure that before recreational marijuana was made legal in Mesquite there would first be a citizen referendum. “I am against marijuana but when it comes to the vote of the citizens I will abide by their vote,” said Ballweg.

Ballweg also said he was an advocate for the council having technical sessions a week before council meetings as it was the only opportunity for citizens to see what the council would be discussing before the agenda was published.

Incumbent councilman Rapson was asked why so little of the downtown redevelopment funds had been used to improve the looks of the city. “There is a saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think,” Rapson replied. He said that many businesses don’t want the funds perhaps because of the impression that the application process was difficult. Rapson said that he and the staff had worked to speed the process. “One idea I have contemplated is increasing the scope of what the money can be used for. If you want to expand your business, maybe we can get funds out of the redevelopment fund.”

Rapson was also asked whether council funding should have been reduced for MRBI (Mesquite Regional Business Inc,) last year, “Yes, they should have. At that point we were in a very difficult budget situation and we still are.” Rapson went on to say that during the last year “we have had a string of unbelievable successes with MRB.” Rapson listed the new businesses coming to Mesquite that were all driven by MRB. “I have talked with several businesses who said the reason they came to Mesquite was because of our business friendly atmosphere and MRB,” Rapson added.

Candidate C.J. Larsen was asked what the most important issue for the city is today. “The most pressing issue is our budget. We need the revenue and we need to see where we can cut,” said Larsen. She noted that the situation isn’t “going to change overnight and we need to work on that.”

Larsen was asked about how the overall economy of Mesquite could be improved. “We need to concentrate on the businesses that we have here currently and bring in new businesses.” She said “We need to do things for the younger generation.” Larsen also said her years with the public safety department in Mesquite has given her a good understanding of the community and a belief that public safety departments need to be protected.

Dave West, a private employee at Reliance Communications, was asked what his priorities would be for the budget. “First of all, I can’t predict what the economy is going to do, but I do want to see our city provide better incentives working with Mesquite Regional Business,” said West. He added that he previously sat on a city economic development commission and “I saw how much more effective MRB was than the previous efforts.”

West also said that he wanted youth sports to be improved, “Our town doesn’t look busy when there is a bunch of golfers in town, but you can’t find a seat in a restaurant when there is a youth tournament in town. We need to work with our recreation department.”

West also said that budget cuts were going to be necessary, but he wanted to support police and fire and with an improved business climate the cuts would be limited.

Mike Benham, a former firefighter in England and the east coast and current volunteer with the Mesquite Fire Department, was asked if he would be more than a one-issue councilperson should he be elected. “I was a fire commissioner, and I have been to council meetings for five years. I have stressed that they are so understaffed that one of these days someone is going to die,” said Benham. He said that the city had to look at a way to bring the staff up, “Your lives matter to me. One of the reasons I’m running for city council is I want to find a way to get some money, more money for the fire department.”

Benham also said he volunteered at the high school and he wanted to get ministers together in the community to help kids at the high school and give them structure.

The final candidate was incumbent Cindi Delaney, who was appointed to the council two years ago to fill a vacancy. Delaney is a local businesswoman and was an owner of the MLN.

Delaney was asked if she favored fast or slow growth, “I favor managed growth. We are going to grow; we have 500 new jobs coming to town.” Delaney emphasized that the city can help through the sale of public land and an efficient regulatory process. “My vision for Mesquite is to be Mesquite, not to be anywhere else,” said Delaney. She emphasized the need for a “vital and sustainable economy with jobs people can get.”

Delaney also said that the new I-15 Exit 118 was going to be a “game changer for the economy of Mesquite. There is going to be a new variety of jobs for our citizens.”

When asked about her support of medical marijuana and a seven percent tax that was reduced to four percent at a later council meeting, Delaney replied that “I have always supported a four percent tax because I believed that seven percent of nothing was less that four percent of something.”

Delaney said she supported medical marijuana, that recreational marijuana was coming to Nevada and Mesquite needed to get in front to regulate it and reap the benefit of the taxes it would generate.

Delaney noted that the city had received over $30,000 in revenue from medical marijuana company Deep Roots in the first quarter, “and if that stays we will gain over $120,000 this year in revenue.” She also said they had 56 employees who were getting pay checks.

The election will be held June 14.

 

Comments

  1. I suggest voting for Delaney as she is more right than wrong. Rapson is stale so no votes for him. Benham is a one idea person so no vote for him. Larson has been here many years and is able to understand what is needed in Mesquite, so I will vote for her. Dave West is a maybe. Not sure if he can see what the city needs. So, maybe. Ballweg seems to be a know-it-all. Says he will vote with how the people feel. Ok, I’d give him a chance and vote for him. If he starts to act crazy, will not vote for him again, ever.

    • Real Estate Warden says:

      Vote for anyone not in office already!, except Delany.
      Rapson is a puppet for Geno and Swell Al Litman.
      Anyone related or conected to Premier realty needs to get out and stay off the council- too much damage has been done already and Premier and a chosen few have benefited from the Premier conection on the council- Geno and Rapson.
      What has Rapson done?- oh ya he voted for whatever way geno told him to when
      A glaring conflict of interest comes up. They do a flip flop only to help premier.

  2. Mesquite Dave says:

    I found it interesting that Ken Cook was on the panel asking questions. This is the same Ken Cook who was running for mayor until he realized that Mesquite was such a disaster that he withdrew from the race and is leaving Mesquite. He mentioned something about Mesquite being ten years away from any large term growth. With all the knowledgeable people in town, why pick someone who has no respect for our city?

  3. Connie Foust says:

    An important fact that was left out of this article is though Mr. Edwards voted against the Commerce Tax, he was responsible for the tie breaking vote to change leadership in the beginning of the session that lead to conservative candidates being removed from important committees and leadership that would have stopped the bill in it’s tracks, and then voted for Amendment 1037 to SB483 that included the Commerce Tax into the passage of the bill and then watched the voting and voted against the bill itself when it was ensured to pass. I watched this vote via my computer and I will say again, Chris Edwards was in favor of the Commerce Tax 5 minutes before voting against it. I will not let the deception of Mr. Edwards continue without challenge. Mr. Edwards only put forth one BDR and it did not make it out of committee, it was a bill to keep daylight savings time. So in short, I want readers to have the full picture of the passage of the Commerce Tax. It was politics and donations that motivated my opponent to vote the way he did. Nothing more nothing less. On Monday evening Assistant State Controller Geoffrey Lawrence will be in Mesquite at my request to explain the Commerce Tax and it’s ramifications to all business owners. If you own a business I would encourage you to attend from 6-8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on Hardy Way. There is no charge, it is my responsibility as a candidate to bring information that affects you to you directly.

  4. I’ve lived in this community for almost 11 years . And I truly love Mesquite .. My vote is going to CJ Larsen from what I can see she will make the future of Mesquite a better place for all of us.. We need a good change … And someone who cares ..

  5. I agree with Mesquite Dave concerning Ken Cook as a panelist for this forum. It appears, in my opinion, that after talking to so many “influential” people, he withdrew because he could not find the financial backing he needed. When someone disses the city and its residents like he did, who cares what he asks any legitimate candidate.

  6. Longtime Mesquite Resident says:

    I don’t perceive any imagination or the expression of “dreams” for what the City of Mesquite can become! Can Mesquite eventually build a modern Community Center/Theater like Cedar City, Utah did? Can Mesquite become a destination for Art Lovers and build a park with sculpters like Loveland, Colorado? Can Mesquite have a famous pie shop like Veyo Utah where people come from miles just to sample the pies? Can Mesquite have a “Grand” Dairy Queen where the townspeople and visitors can gather and sit outside to eat their ice cream like practically every other city in America? If not the above then for now can we just clean up Mesquite Blvd. There are a few buildings that need to be torn down and some that need painting. Nothing has really been added to beautify Mesquite since Mayor Nichols!

  7. Bob Bishop says:

    These forums are useless unless you stop asking the same tired old questions. Yes, we need new business, yes we need to support local businesses,no to new taxes, blah, blah, blah. Foust is an anti-government agitator who shouldn’t even be in the race. No to her. Delaney has the most straight forward honest answering candidate. Yes to her. Rapson is a clown & a fool. Nope. West has no clue at all except LDS sponsored kids soccer, praying at council and no to any kind of marijuana. Nope. Ballweg is a good choice who I would vote for but if Ballweg cannot see the creation of jobs here in the marijuana industry, he is acting on his personal bias not for the city. Wursten is a definite no, Larson has no experience at all. So I’m going with Cindi, Ballweg and Benham. The others have too many secret agendas.

    • Bob, I’m not sure why I’ve earned your spite, but I’d like to set some things straight. You’re correct in the assessment that I’m LDS, however, The Church has nothing to do with youth sports. The prayers have been a great way to involve the diverse religious sects in our community, and I’ve frequently arranged for my kids to participate with Pastor O’Neal from Mesquite Lutheran. Heaven knows our council needs and deserves some divine province. Marijuana is a tricky subject that deserves real scientific study rather than the self-medicating farce that we have now. While we’re recognizing significant revenue from Marijuana production, I’m not sure we fully understand the social costs yet.

      • Bob Bishop says:

        Mr West,

        My opinion is based on your complete lack of acceptance of ALL members of this community. Many do not believe prayer should be part of government meetings, marijuana has been approved by the voters, it is not up to YOU to disrespect those voters because of your religious beliefs. By the way, alcohol is 100 times worse in terms of social costs than marijuana. Will you, Mr West, champion prohibiting all alcohol use in Mesquite?

        • Dave West says:

          Bob,

          Thanks for taking the time to reply and elaborate your position. In answer to your question, I fail to see the connection. My position when medical was approved was to delay action and allow other cities to take the risk first. Mesquite is very lucky that the owners and managers at Deep Roots have gone to great lengths to be responsible corporate citizens. Vegas and North Las Vegas both had negative dealings with several medical marijuana businesses. As a medical treatment, I believe marijuana deserves real study. Recreational is a different story. As you mentioned, alcohol is already bad enough. We should carefully consider all the impacts before legalizing another mind-altering substance for recreation.

          With three seats open this election, there’s room for voters to elect a diverse slate of candidates – including candidates with religious backgrounds. Courts have ruled that prayer as part of ceremonial openings is not a violation. Regardless of who is elected, the prayers will continue. If only one religion dominated, then a change would need to be made.

          • Bob Bishop says:

            Mr West,

            I find your answer on medical marijuana to be disingenuous at the very least and non sense in its thought process. And you didn’t answer my question whether you would move to prohibit alcohol. You have shown your inexperience is troublesome and your ideas are based on stale concepts that don’t work. Just kick the can down the road & maintain the staus quo.

      • Cindy Banks says:

        Mr. West,

        I knew nothing about Medical Marijuana until my brother-in-law got stage four neck cancer. His doctor in Hawaii recommended it for a number of reasons and he was right the tumor shrunk. The healing process was twice as fast and he could get an appetite. He is now 18 months out and cancer free.

        My husband, Lary, was diagnosised with squamous cell cancer on his leg and face. He had surgery on his leg, but with his brothers encouragement, he tried the Medical Marijuana on his cheek, and it was completely gone in one week. It was quite an ordeal to get his permit in this state but we are grateful that we have it, The use is not recreational. Please reconsider your position. There have been plenty of studies on this subject, proving the validity of it’s use, so I am surprised you are unaware of all the information you could have studied. So please get informed and reconsider your position, the people benefiting from the negativity towards the use of Medical Marijuana are the pharmaceuticals.

    • Connie Foust says:

      Bob, I am not an anti government agitator, get it right I am an anti BIG CORRUPT government agitator. We need government, but not in our bedrooms and today not in our bathrooms.

  8. Mike McGreer says:

    Dave West, Cindi Delaney and Burton West for me. Although West was not in attendance, he is a great candidate with great ideas. Cindi is right about marijuana and managed growth. I think Dave West would be a good councilman.

    Absolutely not Dave Ballweg. His interest is only on what is best for him. Natural gas to drive his business. the MRBI to recruit business to an area where he has business thus improving his property values.No marijuana business. A referendum is a joke it is a way to get religious groups to the polls to overwhelm the majority of citizens who unfortunately do not vote. He is against taxes but has no problem using tax payer dollars to fund the MRBI of which he was a founding father and use tax payer dollars on an attempt to unseat Edwards when he though Edwards might vote for tax cuts.

    Absolutely no more Rapson. He is an arrogant fool who, as a real estate agent voted to fund his real estate firm in brokering the truck stop deal. When questions were raised about MRBI qualifications under IRS rules, he told the public to “rat them off,” concerned. While saying it was a joke he agreed with Barbara Ellestad to “shoot ” Steve Sisolak when Sisolak raised questions about the role of rural communities in Las Vegas development activities. He and Ballweg together would bully the council to follow their way of thinking. Very bad idea to have these two in the same room voting on local issues.

    Both Foust and Edwards are tea party republicans with generalized opinions about tax cuts and the role of government.No actual programs in mind, just cut them. .

    Given the choice Edwards is marginally better. Neither party in Nevada gives much attention to AD 19. It is a give-away by them and those holding that seat are relegated to the back row on any committee. .

  9. Cindy Banks says:

    I have seen such negativity towards George Rapson and Connie Faust, that I am more determined to vote for them. I know them both as common sense business people. Knowing what is going on in Vegas is critical to our city. We have seen Vegas take the long drive from our beautiful town and water rights. Use your heads citizens, and quit the PC attitude that the Tea Party is wrong. Standing for your Constitution and protecting the rights of citizens should be the first job of all elected officials. That is George and Connie.

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