Some of the most important items in this (and perhaps every) year’s election will be found at the bottom of the ballot in the local government positions. They are important because these municipal board seats can have the most direct effect upon local conditions, lifestyles and pocketbooks. This year these include the race for Clark County Commission District B and two seats on the Overton Power District Board of Trustees.
Interpersonal relationships become vitally important in these choices. These are people that we should know personally and we should understand their positions. The closer the impact of governing decisions, the more important the relationship must be between the candidates and their community.
Experience is also tremendously important. Local government can deal in very technical and complex issues. There is a strong learning curve getting up to speed on the issues and in becoming influential in making good decisions on a board. There is a cost associated with that learning curve which usually comes in time spent by the newly elected board member as well as public funds for their training and certifications. All of these things should be considered by voters when they go to the polls to make these very close local decisions.
First off is the race for Clark County Commission District B. The incumbent, Marilyn Kirkpatrick, was appointed a little over a year ago. She came into the position from years of service in the state legislature where she was known for her ability to bring disparate parties together to forge a compromise. In addition, her previous experience as a Planning Commissioner gave her some background on the nuts and bolts of the county code.
Kirkpatrick came in knowing very little about Moapa Valley and its unique issues. But she has proven to be a quick study. Immediately upon being appointed, she held town meetings and spent a lot of time listening to local folks. She quickly developed relationships with key players in the community. In no time at all, she was addressing concerns and solving local problems that had gone neglected for years.
Her Republican opponent Kevin Williams has never held public office of any kind. This fact could, no doubt, be considered a strength by some. But while his experience in major property management is significant and may be relevant, it would still leave a large learning curve in the complex political dealings of the Commission. It would likely be a long time before Williams would be up to speed enough to begin to familiarize himself with Moapa Valley’s unique rural concerns.
There is really no reason to make a change. Kirkpatrick deserves a chance to continue what she has begun so well. The Progress endorses Marilyn Kirkpatrick for County Commission District B.
In the Overton Power District At-Large seat, the chief concern for the voters of both Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley is again that of relationships within the community and experience.
While there is much in common between the two valleys, there are also some important differences. There is a very nuanced dichotomy in the unique and distinct needs of each community in the district. No one understands that dichotomy better than Overton resident Judy Metz. She brings to the table a long history of experience in working and advocating for both Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley in various roles. With strong connections and relationships at both sides of the mesa, this advocacy comes second nature to her. During her first term on the OPD board, she has ably and effectively represented the interests of both valleys.
She has also taken the significant time and attention required to become certified as a rural utility board member. This puts a significant part of the learning curve behind her. With that investment already made, it makes sense to allow her to continue to use that training to benefit the district and its ratepayers. We have no doubt that her opponent David Bennett of Mesquite would likewise be an able and effective board member. But we see no reason at this point to make a change. Metz has already navigated the steep learning curve and born the costs of it. The PROGRESS endorses Judy Metz for Overton Power District At Large seat.
Finally is the race for the OPD Moapa Trustee seat. Long time trustee Gary Leavitt is being term-limited out this year after serving the Moapa community honorably and well on the board for 12 years.
While both candidates for this race have some background with the power industry, there will still be a steep learning curve for whoever wins the seat. But Chad Leavitt, the son of Trustee Gary Leavitt, has the advantage of drawing from his father’s experience and legacy on the board. In that he has no doubt already experienced some one-on-one training to prepare.
In addition, Chad Leavitt has shown his ability to speak up boldly and effectively and communicate well in complex issues. In his involvement with the local AB394 taskforce appointed by the Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board (MVCEAB) he has advocated for greater autonomy in local schools over the past year-long process. That experience, along with his business management training and background, would serve well on the OPD Board.
Chad is a well respected and well connected member of the Moapa community, as well as the other communities of the Moapa Valley. He is well suited to fill the Moapa board seat. The PROGRESS endorses Chad Leavitt for Overton Power District Moapa seat.