The event, held every two years, saw members of The Chamber and its endorsed candidates interacting with one another and the public. Candidates from across the board, including Senate candidate Dean Heller, Congressional candidate Mark Amodei, State Board of Education candidate Dave Cook and many more are being endorsed by The Chamber in 2012.
Bruce Gescheider, chamber member and president of Moana Nursery, said The Chamber speaks for more than 2,500 businesses in northern Nevada. He said to obtain the endorsement of The Chamber a candidate must follow key values, goals and expectations.
“The interesting part is you have small, medium and big business, a diversity of ethnic, religious and male and female gender. By expanding the size we were able to better create a representation of all business,” he said. “We give them our agenda for economic vitality that contains a very specific set of pro and con statements and a mission statement about what we believe for our community.”
Gescheider said the expectations given to each candidate encompass issues such as tourism, economic development, education and taxes. He said each of the candidates will have the chance to present their position on such topics before The Chamber makes its final decision.
“At the end of the day, for us, it matters who is most business friendly, who believes the most in the free enterprise system, who recognizes the issues that we have to deal with and those are the people we end up endorsing,” Gescheider said.
Gescheider said some of the candidates are ones The Chamber has worked for on the legislative level and people it has endorsed before. He said important seats will be voted on for education, including the Nevada State Board of Education and the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees.
The Chamber has endorsed Dave Cook to sit on the State Board of Education and current Board of Trustees President Ken Grein at the county level. With new WCSD Superintendent Pedro Martinez at the helm, Grein said he is looking for another four years at the school district to see the Strategic Plan through.
“Every decision I made was in the best interest of the kids, and I knew if I made those decisions in the best interest of the kids I could sleep at night,” Grein said. “This community, together, has built a strategic plan and it is unlike any other strategic plan I have ever seen in 34 years. This administration and this board is focused on utilizing that plan, we are focused on kids and the community is buying in all the way through. This is what is going to make Washoe County a better district.”
Grein was endorsed by The Chamber when he became a board member four years ago and, being a legislative year, he feels his 34 years in the school district will benefit benefit the board and Martinez in Carson City.
“We have already started discussions and meetings about heading to the legislature,” he said. “Our main thing is no more cuts. We are not asking for a bunch of money, but we are asking for a steady source of income for the Capital Projects Fund. We have schools that need technology updates for kids and if we are going to help our kids, we have to have those technology updates for our kids.”
Grein said election season “is one of those things you have to do” and he is looking forward to hustle of the season coming to an end. Gescheider said the upcoming November election is about strengthening the northern Nevada region to battle against Clark County to improve schools and Capital Projects.
“The most important thing for us, probably, is banding together as northern Nevada against Clark County and the emphasis they have down there,” Gescheider said. “The way schools are funded and our need for capital improvements, and the fact that Clark County has three ways to pay for it and we have one — and it’s tapped out. Our group of legislators have to work together to protect the Washoe County system and to protect the rurals, too.”
The General Election is Nov. 6 and Washoe County residents can choose from 22 early voting locations through Nov. 2. Sparks voters can take advantage of early voting at the Sparks Library, the Chamber of Commerce office at the Legends at Sparks Marina and the Department of Motor Vehicles. For a full list of early voting locations, visit www.washoecounty.us/voters/12EVSchedule.htm.