Mayoral Race:

Litman better choice for mayor
By Barbara Ellestad
MLN Editor

It’s been the calmest mayoral election in Mesquite in more than 15 years with only two candidates running, Al Litman and Art Pereida. And, it’s the first time in 5½ years that citizens are voting on the seat.

Traditionally, the mayoral race has drawn rancor, distrust and even a supposed FBI investigation in 2008. But this year has been nothing short of a snooze after a third candidate, Ken Cook, withdrew from the race just days after the candidate filing period closed in March.

2016StateofCity-02-11-16: Mesquite Mayor Al Litman gave his 2016 State of the City address before a small audience Feb. 9 providing both an upbeat outlook and grim predictions for the community. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Mesquite Mayor Al Litman gave his 2016 State of the City address before a small audience Feb. 9 providing both an upbeat outlook and grim predictions for the community. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Litman was appointed to the position in 2014 after the sitting mayor Mark Wier resigned and moved to St. George, Utah. Litman was elected to the city council in 2011 as part of a sweeping change to the council when he, Kraig Hafen and George Rapson were elected along with Wier in one of the most contentious and acrimonious elections ever held in Mesquite.

The 2011 election originally had then-Mayor Susan Holecheck lining up against then-Councilwoman Donna Fairchild for the position. In January of that year, Holecheck accused Fairchild of filing a false travel voucher. Whether it was over that issue or something unexplained, Fairchild killed her husband and then herself in late January.

Subsequently, Wier and David Bennett entered the mayor’s race with Wier winning the office outright in the primary garnering about 51 percent of the vote. Bennett took just over 30 percent and Holecheck received about 18 percent of the primary votes cast.

Only one debate took place this year between Litman and Pereida when they both appeared at the September Chamber of Commerce luncheon taking questions from moderator Bennett.

Pereida said while residential development is fairly healthy, the city needs more businesses especially in the industrial park. “I would like to see the Chamber of Commerce and Mesquite Regional Business Inc. be more productive in promoting the city to outside businesses.”

While Litman said businesses are interested in Mesquite “we can’t drag them into the city. They are looking at Mesquite because we have a great quality of life.” He wants to attract companies that won’t add pollution.

Both candidates addressed the issue of raising business licenses and fees as a way to generate more income for the city. Pereida said it isn’t necessary to raise license fees but rather “we need to look at our base income” of all employees. He advocated a raise in the minimum wage paid by private businesses as a way to increase the income tax the city could receive. He cited the fact that 60 percent of elementary school children receive low-income free lunches. “We are contributing to that” he said because of the low wages paid by businesses.

He added that “raising the minimum wage doesn’t cause prices to go up” and would help keep younger people in Mesquite.

Litman said he was not in favor of raising business license fees because it isn’t a big income source. He also said that the state’s consolidated tax (C-tax) was confusing and increased property taxes aren’t a solution either because very little of them stay in Mesquite.

Litman pushed for a change in Mesquite’s liquor licensing ordinances earlier this year as a way to generate what he said would be an extra $300,000 in city income. The measure died when the council refused to address it. He’s not made any other suggestions about increasing city coffers.

Litman said Mesquite’s small workforce is one of the great issues for local businesses. He described two new businesses coming into Mesquite as having a “terrible time trying to fill their positions.” He also said two limiting factors for the workforce pool were the small number of local high school graduates and a large number of retirees.

He said the city has fast-tracked business permits and licenses to help make it easier for businesses to come into Mesquite. Litman also said the city is working closely with other companies to bring natural gas to Mesquite making it cheaper for them to operate.

Pereida has shown a continual lack of understanding on many issues with city government and business in general.

Litman is the better choice of the two candidates to lead Mesquite the next four years.

City Council Race:

Council choices remain the same

By Barbara Ellestad

The Mesquite Local News hosted a council candidate forum in May with seven people running for three seats prior to the June primary election. It was our intention to follow that up with one-on-one interviews going into the general election but a medical emergency squashed that.

However, not much has changed with the six remaining candidates or this newspaper’s endorsement since the primary. As with the mayoral race, this has been one of the quietest elections in years.

We are reprinting our endorsement column from the primary sans the seventh candidate who did not make it through the primary.

The Mesquite Local News hosted a public forum on May 9 at the Eureka Casino Resort with six of seven candidates for Mesquite City Council. Brian Wursten was unable to attend the forum due to a family emergency.

Citizens should appreciate all the candidates who take the time to run for public office. It’s not an easy job to be elected.

The following is a brief synopsis of each council candidate listed in order of preference for votes based on opinions of the MLN staff.

George Rapson

George Rapson

Number one – George Rapson: He has been the most vocal member of the current council publicly voicing his thoughts, opinions, agreements and disagreements on issues. You may not like what he says but at least you know where he stands. That’s what we want in elected officials. He has an excellent knowledge of business including Mesquite’s three major industries – golf, gaming and grandparents.

Dave Ballweg

Dave Ballweg

Number two – Dave Ballweg: He is the most involved private citizen in local government bodies, not just city council but also power, water and chamber boards besides running his own successful business. He always does his homework before expressing his opinions and fully understands issues, sometimes more than the people holding elected office.

Brian Wursten

Brian Wursten

Number three – Brian Wursten: He knows business and how to work with tight budgets, which will serve him well helping to run city government. He has long been involved in city issues, usually from a back seat. He knows how to work well with people and the intricacies involved in running government. There is a concern about him focusing too much on the golf industry.

05 - Council - Delaney -05-26-16

Cindi Delaney

Number four – Cindi Delaney: She has done a decent job since her appointment to the city council but seems to not have a full understanding of issues many times. She has reversed her vote on a couple issues which points to that concern.

04 - Council - West -05-26-16

David West

Number five – Dave West: His youth and desire to focus on the younger generations are appreciated. However, there is concern about how much time he would have to devote to council requirements since he has a large, young family and works full-time.

Mike Benham

Mike Benham

Number six – Mike Benham: Several questions were constructed for him to prove or disprove his single focus on the fire department. Unfortunately, he proved he is a one-issue candidate with little understanding of the other issues facing the city.




Presidential Race:

Presidential election is shameful

“On president, I heard a great turn of phrase. It’s NOT a choice between the lesser of two evils. It is a choice of evils between two lessers. Shame on Republicans for Trump. And shame on Democrats for Hillary. Terrible, terrible choice. Vote none of the above,” said Sherm Fredericks, Battle Born Media.

Question 1:

Vote No on Question 1
By Barbara Ellestad

Criminals generally don’t obey the law. That’s why they’re criminals. It is folly to think that they will obey the extra shackles put on gun owners and users from the ominous restrictions that would require “universal” background checks on all gun exchanges should Nevada’s Question 1 ballot initiative pass.

As Thomas Mitchell, Battle Born Media columnist, said in an Oct. 13 editorial, the initiative will jeopardize “our freedoms and constitutional rights without accomplishing so much as a scintilla of its intended purpose.

“It is being pushed by Nevadans for Background Checks, which is funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.”

Criminals don’t bother with legal purchases of guns that now require background checks. Some of them don’t bother purchasing them at all – they just take them from wherever they can get them. To think that they will suddenly comply with the new law, should they want to “borrow” a gun, is just plain silly.

Part of the ballot question says, “This initiative requires that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check on the potential buyer or transferee. A licensed dealer may charge a reasonable fee for this service.”

So the general public is expected to believe that, because the new law says so, a criminal is going to buy or borrow a gun from another person (criminal), run over to their local licensed gun dealer, get a background check that reveals their criminal past, and pay a reasonable fee to eventually get arrested. Remember, most felons are prohibited from owning firearms.

Yesterday was not my birthday.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a statement: “As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I take seriously my duty to ensure that my fellow Nevadans are safe. I have carefully reviewed the Question 1 initiative and have concluded that it would not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms and would instead cost Nevadans time, money, and freedom.”

A spokesman for Gov. Brian Sandoval released a statement saying: “The governor does not support Question 1. He has concerns that this measure would dilute the legitimate rights of law-abiding Nevadans and that it does not actually address the complex issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals.”

Mitchell also said, “The law is so strict that a gun seller whose purchase fails to go through for some reason will have to pay for and undergo a background check to get his own weapon back from the licensed federal firearm dealer.”

So law-abiding people face extra cost and hassle and the criminal just laughs.

Say no on Question 1.

Question 2:

Marijuana should be legalized
By Teri Nehrenz

I say yes to Question 2 that will legalize recreational marijuana in Nevada.

As a marijuana smoker for 40 years I can say that I’m quite happy with its effects. I don’t feel the need to indulge in alcohol or other drugs; as a matter of fact, I don’t even take prescription medications, which is unusual for a person who is 53 years old.  Most people my age or older and many much younger have several doctor-prescribed medications they take on a daily basis. I am considered to be an extremely healthy individual and a reasonably intelligent one as well.

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, the largest labor union in the state of Nevada, serving over 57,000 individuals, has announced its support of Question 2. This endorsement is a big deal – it shows that these thousands of workers throughout the state are in support of legalizing and regulating marijuana use for adults.

People oppose legalizing marijuana based on false claims made through the years and propaganda issued by the campaign which resulted in its illegalization in the 1930’s. Before 1930, marijuana/hemp was actually a mandatory crop for farmers if they had the land to spare. Marijuana/hemp continues to be one of the most sustainable crops we know of; 100 percent of a plant above the roots is a usable product.

Some believe marijuana is addictive and a “gateway” drug, but studies show different results.

The recent discovery of a cannabinoid receptor system in the human brain has revolutionized research on marijuana and cannabinoids, and definitively proven that marijuana use does not have a dependence or addiction liability (Marijuana and the Human Brain; March 1995 High Times). Marijuana, it turns out, affects brain chemistry in a qualitatively different way than addictive drugs. Drugs of abuse such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol and nicotine affect the production of dopamine. However, some studies show that marijuana has no direct effect on dopamine production in the striatum, and that most of the drug effects occur in the relatively new (in evolutionary terms) region of the brain — the frontal cerebral cortex. There is now biological evidence that far from being the gateway to abusive drugs, marijuana is instead the other way to get high – the safe way.

Some believe that marijuana can lead to learning defects. Almost all studies suggest memory loss and up to a loss of eight IQ points in those who began smoking marijuana in adolescence. Those same studies reported no IQ loss in people who started smoking marijuana when they were adults. Marijuana laws akin to alcohol laws (legal for persons 21 and over) should reduce this potential danger or threat.

Some non-supporters also think that the danger from children having access to the drug will have catastrophic results but this shouldn’t be a factor in legalizing it.

Yes, youth are ending up in emergency rooms because of eating “edibles,” but this is the fault of parents who allow the edibles to be within the reach of children. There is no difference between having marijuana, Oxycontin, guns or even cleaning solutions in the home; it all boils down to responsible parenting.

There isn’t one case study or report that can be found that states that anyone has ever overdosed and died from smoking marijuana.

Looking at the financial benefits:  We won’t have to feed and house thousands of prison inmates who are busted for marijuana related charges with our tax dollars. Money that would otherwise go to housing inmates for marijuana charges can surly be rerouted to more beneficial areas in need of funding.

Legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes will create some need for adjustments to be made similar to DUI laws (and when has our government ever shied away from developing new laws?) Companies will eventually develop some machine that will measure the amount of THC in the blood stream much like they do for alcohol detection and laws will be enforced creating a need for factories to manufacture and jobs for people to supply the need. I personally don’t see any disadvantages to legalizing marijuana that you don’t already have with alcohol but I do see a ton of benefits including the benefit of income to our city and the reduction of prisoners under the care of “Our tax dollars at work.”

Generating additional income is also a great benefit to legalizing marijuana. The tax dollars generated for our community will improve many of the issues that have befallen the city government such as lack of personnel, pay issues, schools, city improvement and redevelopment, recreation center improvements, senior center improvements or functions, youth programs …. or anywhere else it’s needed.

No on Cannabis
By Lou Martin

Cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, weed, dope, pot, grass and others, by definition is a plant intended to be used as a psychotic or medicinal drug. The main active chemical is Tetrahydrocannabinol. When marijuana smoke is inhaled, THC rapidly passes through the lungs and into the blood stream eventually into the brain and other organs. The reaction chain causes euphoria or what is known as a high.

Marijuana’s strength is determined by the amount of THC in the product used. A study showed THC in marijuana has increased drastically in the past 50 years. The Controlled Substance Act of 1990 classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 substance, which has no approved medical use and has high potential for abuse. However, it has been available in some states by prescription for years for helping chemotherapy patients and other ailments.

I, myself had a prescription at one time in the sixties for glaucoma problems. That did not last long for me personally as the high or low made me feel useless for hours after using. But now states are approving its use for recreational purposes. The money flowing into the coffers of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and others is mind boggling, but at what cost?

It’s hypocritical that our government mandates that cigarette smoking is dangerous for our health on packaging but does not mandate a warning on marijuana. Television ads push no smoking for our teens but the states are using recreational use of marijuana as a fund-raiser for programs and dispensaries are proliferating. All for the almighty dollar.

What program requirements will be needed in the future to treat the potheads of tomorrow? What will the high price of recreational marijuana do to the crime rate in the state of Nevada? In 2015, the average cost of one ounce of weed averaged $160 to $350 in Denver, Colorado. Where is the extra money for future purchases going to come from legally or illegally?

There are plenty of organizations from the American Medical Association to the Elks Lodges who refrain from endorsing marijuana use or have a motto firmly against its use. Interesting enough is the fact that four brother Elks are the majority influence on our own city council, which approved dispensaries in our fair city. Do they endorse its use or is it a fund-raiser?