Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s appointment as Mesquite’s representative on the Clark County Commission is refreshing news. She replaces Tom Collins who abruptly resigned the seat on Aug. 10.
As Mayor Al Litman pointed out about Collins to the Mesquite Local News, “He always was an absentee Commissioner in Mesquite.” Very seldom did we ever hear from our sole voice on the County Board and too infrequently saw him in this area. Sure, he came to the Mesquite Days Mayoral Breakfast and rode in an open convertible in the parade. Sorry, but that’s not adequate representation to us.
Kirkpatrick is well-known for her bipartisanship during her years in the Nevada State Assembly. She also had an excellent reputation for digging into issues and fully understanding them before voting. If Collins had that ability, he didn’t often show it.
Kirkpatrick worked long and hard on revising the Consolidated Tax Revenue formula prior to the 2013 Nevada Legislative session. The CTAX is a significant source of funding for our City. She even made the 85 mile trek up the road to address the Mesquite City Council in 2012 about the issue.
Here’s where Kirkpatrick shined during the Council meeting – she sincerely asked the Council to provide her with input on the CTAX distribution formula that she could use in future studies.
Here’s a challenging question to highlight the difference between our old representative and our new one: when was the last time Collins ever publicly addressed our City Council and asked for input on anything? Sure, he may have sought local opinions in the background or, more likely, in the backroom.
Did the City get everything it wanted from the 2013 Nevada Legislature on the CTAX formula revision? No. However, the very idea that someone bothered to publicly ask for input is a wonderful thing.
Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, is also well-known for truly understanding that she represents the people of all political persuasions. As Congressman Cresent Hardy, a Republican, pointed out to the Mesquite Local News “Marilyn is a good listener who will represent all factions of the county not just North Las Vegas. We worked together very well in the Assembly.”
Here’s hoping Kirkpatrick listens to Mesquite Police Chief Troy Tanner who has testified repeatedly to the State Legislature and the County Commission that raising the county sales tax to provide increased funding to the ‘More Cops’ program is desperately needed in the rural small towns throughout the county.
In 2004 Clark County voters, including those in Mesquite, approved an increase in the county sales from 8.1 percent to 8.25 percent with the extra proceeds funding more police officers on the streets in all county jurisdictions, not just Las Vegas. Only half of the increase was levied at the time.
In 2013 the Nevada State Legislature authorized the Clark County Commission to put the second half of the voter-approved tax increase in place. Instead, the Commission feuded for several years with former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Chief Doug Gillespie and refused to increase the tax. Meanwhile, smaller police departments like Mesquite and Boulder City suffered.
The Commission tried to pass a smaller increase a year ago but Collins took an ‘all or nothing’ approach and stood in the way of Mesquite receiving something.
Tanner has judiciously used the More Cops tax receipts Mesquite has received so far. But with tight budgets and increased costs, Mesquite needs and deserves what the voters offered it.
The County Commission is set to vote on the issue again at its Sep. 1 meeting. However, the proposal on the table is to increase the tax rate from 8.1 percent to 8.15 percent still leaving it .10 percent below what voters approved more than a decade ago.
Kirkpatrick needs to use her innate ability to understand tax issues and her new responsibilities to adequately represent her constituents and vote yes to approve the More Cops tax increase.
The Clark County Commission is politically lopsided in its members with almost everyone from the Democratic party. Too often that makes it tough for an area like Mesquite that’s largely from the other side of the aisle to adequately be heard on issues.
And, too often the Commissioners forget that they also have a responsibility to people who don’t live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area when it comes to decision making. Yes, Commissioners, Mesquite is in Nevada, it is in Clark County, and we are part of your job.
So here’s hoping Kirkpatrick remembers where Mesquite is, that its now part of her new responsibilities and that she visits often.
And one more thing. While Kirkpatrick is not known for wearing cowboy hats and boots, we also hope she leaves her guns in the drawer and keeps her bulls penned up. We really don’t need ‘Cowboy Commissioner redux.’