Sheri Samson
A two-night Meet the Candidates event took place last Thursday and Friday at the Hawthorne Convention center.

Two nights of publicly attended presentations entitled “Meet the Candidates” was recently held at the USO/Convention Center, sponsored by the Democratic and Republican Parties, hosted by Sue Merrill Banks. Candidates from the upcoming Primary Ballot, and those that will run later in the year, were invited to address the public with a three-minute overview, then accept written questions from the audience. Local candidates, as well as State and Federal office-seekers were invited to present.

Statements from several State and Federal candidates were publicly read, as they were not in attendance due to scheduling. Republican candidate, Alexis Hansen, running for State Assembly District 32 had her statement read, while Republican Tom Fransway, running for the same seat, appeared from Winnemucca, reviewing his 29 years of community service and vowing to make everyone accountable.

Democratic candidate, Amy Vilela, running for the U.S. House Congressional seat in the 4th District, was on hand to personally share her reason for running, which involved health care issues which personally affected her and stating she was not a career politician. Republican candidate, David Gibbs, running for the same seat, had his statement read by James Utterback.

County Commissioner Seat C Candidates shared; Mike Gus spoke of his background as a congressional staffer, shared of economic development and “tying into the bigger towns” with an emphasis on end results of Interstate 11. Russell Owens admitted being a “lifer” of Mineral County, speaking of his concerns involving cost of living increases and his desire to be the peoples voice for their concerns. Jim “Gunny” Utterback explained his background in the Marine Corp, working in past State positions and being involved in local positions to “do what is right” for the county and to make it better. Barb Owens shared her background in Mineral County, which included an emphasis on family, youth, park and recreation and economic development issues, coming from treating people fairly, always listening and “improving on what we have.” Christine Hoferer spoke of her county experience which began in 1978, familiarity with budgets and existing county departments, as well as “bringing accountability and improvement to many county areas.” Mina resident, Norm Williams explained his background and suggested to “see what we can do” to get the county on its feet.

The Sheriffs position had Candidate Randy Adams (current Sheriff) sharing the many department updates, grants obtained and improvements accomplished, adding “staffing levels are coming up and we have a proactive force in place.” Candidate Earl Perry stated his experience and qualifications, adding “things are said but not seen” while stating that he would step up and make things happen, not utilizing an undersheriff, but promoting from within.

Chris Nepper, running unopposed for Clerk\Treasurer, updated with information regarding the streamlining done within the office, as well as new county software, new voting machines and blight grants being completed.

Justice of the Peace Candidates shared: Breanna Hatfield spoke of local community involvements since 2011, a business owner background and a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice, with a “goal to change the reputation of the office and hold people accountable using resources in place.” Paula Reed spoke of long-term family ties to the county and of a grandfather in State politics, also as a business owner she “learned to operate within the laws, respecting the laws in place and following the power of proper processes within the administration of justice.” Michael James explained his resume built within the county framework and currently working within the courts as a Public Guardian, while understanding the systems in place allows for “the commitment of always being available, fully dedicated with respect to the emphasis of the position”, being prepared and familiar in the justice process.”

Beth Cichowlaz, as current Public Administrator, shared that what began as a hobby to her, soon emerged into researching and the handling of estates for residents who die without aires.

Sean Rowe, the “lone candidate for District Attorney”, shared an overview of living in Mineral County for eight years and serving in many capacities within the county legal systems.

County Assessor Candidates shared: Resident Kevin Chisum, (currently appointed and serving for the remainder of the term) explained his 30 years as a title officer, work done with certification, taxation, general appraisals, property auctions, State/Federal statues and reviewed some major financial gains already accomplished since his appointment, saying “this is my field of work and it is a good fit.” Janeen Clark, shared her history while in the county assessor’s office, beginning at entry level then working up to chief deputy assessor position, with familiarity in the office as “seen just about every parcel in Mineral County at one time” and knows about deed transfers, assessments, determining factors and assuring that she could be reinstated to certification level. Jerrie Tipton explained aspects of coming from a current Commissioner position, but remaining within the county structure, would transition easily due to familiarity of people, budgets and departments, as well as the overall county structure, as “past issues were systemic and can’t be changed overnight as the office was not in compliance, as the office of taxation mentioned, because of decade old issues at hand.”

Recorder Auditor Candidates shared: Cherrie George, current Senior Service Director, was familiar with County and State requirements, grants, management, experience as County Clerk/Treasurer for eight years, prepared budgets, worked closely with the Recorder/Auditor department head, “with experience throughout the necessary county entities.” Cindy Nixon, experienced as a past local business owner stressed “going the extra mile to assure positive experiences with the public”, finding solutions and answers per County and Nevada law, providing appropriate management with accountability to every office and the heaviest expectations would be coming from herself by fulfilling the position to the letter of the law.

Candidate School Board Members shared: Kathy Castagnola, running unopposed, stated her passion as a grandparent and advocate for the kids and her interest as a policymaker and helper for all the schools and staff, saying “we are a family not politicians.” Keith Neville, in the county since 1980 and retired coach, broke it down by knowing what the kids go through using several issues involving the need for safer, friendly environments, the fight for money and proper funding, addressing at-risk kids; retaining and locating teachers and the structural issues with the existing school buildings. David Ziegler, a teacher to adults in the SOC training and development department and he is running a non-profit Pop Warner organization as a parent, shared that “bringing a new set of eyes to the table” could help and by familiarizing, with the aspect toward budgeting.