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Candidate meet-and-greet in Sparks draws small crowd
by Jill Lufrano
May 10, 2012 | 2655 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Vaughn Hartung, a candidate for county commissioner in District 4 representing Sparks and Spanish Springs, speaks with la Vone Gelder and Judy Bostic on Wednesday morning at the Sparks Senior Center.
Tribune/John Byrne - Vaughn Hartung, a candidate for county commissioner in District 4 representing Sparks and Spanish Springs, speaks with la Vone Gelder and Judy Bostic on Wednesday morning at the Sparks Senior Center.
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SPARKS — Few seniors came to meet the host of candidates running for local and state offices at the Sparks Senior Center Tuesday, but the forum gave the handful of aspiring politicians a stage to voice their platforms.

Candidates running for state Assembly, Reno City Council, Washoe County Commission, U.S. House of Representative and various other seats were invited to the event.

Two senior women showed up to the event that started at 10 a.m. while many others played cards or entertained with friends in the next-door common areas.

“We just wanted to give them a chance to meet the folks,” said Grady Tarbutton, director of Washoe County Senior Services.

Michael L. Haines, candidate for U.S. Congress, Dist. 2, is running against Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican. The independent candidate said he continues to run for office in Nevada because he wants to provide a voice for the people who are disgruntled with both major political parties.

“I am there for them and them only,” Haines said.

Lauren Scott, a Republican running for Assembly District 30, is looking to fill the seat left open by the departure of Democrat Debbie Smith. Formerly a Democrat, Scott switched parties last year and decided that as a Republican she can “more effectively work to overcome the gridlock in Carson City,” she said.

The focus of her efforts would be on addressing the high levels of unemployment in the state, while working to maintain funding for social services and taking a practical approach to tax reform.

“We need to do more to make Nevada more attractive to a wide range of businesses,” she said. “By reducing energy costs, removing barriers to competition, encouraging rural development and supporting Nevada entrepreneurs, we can get Nevada working again. Employed people increase revenues from payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and fuel taxes and depend less on social services.”

Scott was an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force for seven years. She also seeks to improve the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender individuals and their families.

Jesse Gutierrez, a Republican running for county commissioner in District 4, mostly covering the Sparks region, is running against Republican Vaughn Hartung, a longtime public servant with the county working on the planning commission and other bodies.

Guitierrez has a solid background in the health care industry, with a master’s degree in Health Services. He is recommended by former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich and has worked recently as the past executive director for Nevada Hispanic Services. He is also the co-founder of Mariposa Academy of Language and Learning in California.

Guitierrez has served as an advisory member of the Washoe County Access to Justice Foundation and as a board member of the Education Collaborative of Washoe County, Truckee Meadows Human Services Association, Stand for Children, ACCEPT, Amigos de Mariposa and Just for Kids.

“That kind of experience builds consensus,” he said. “I know how to get things down. I’ve worked with unions and put mergers together before.”

As for what Guitierrez would like to see in Washoe County, he said he would work to see that the budget’s priorities are reorganized to be more in line with income levels.

“You’ve got to prioritize,” he said. “You have to see what really needed and economize. You have to work toward prioritizing of health and safety. That’s what you find out by talking to the people. If you want the same old thing as always, don’t vote for me. If you want to change for the better, against the odds, I’m the answer.”

His opposition, Hartung, who has the endorsement of outgoing Commissioner Bob Larkin, has a long list of former county appointments behind him.

He has been a planning commissioner since 2009. He started working for the county in the early 1990s, he said, and lives in Spanish Springs. Hartung owns his own business as a professional photographer with Hartung and Dickman Photography and is northern Nevada marketing director for another company. His background also includes serving with the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission and three terms as chairman of the Spanish Springs Citizen Advisory Board, helping guide development in Sparks and Spanish Springs for schools, housing developments, parks, flood control facilities, green energy, transportation and other area plans. He also serves on the Regional Transportation Commission’s impact fee technical advisory committee and Pyramid Highway Steering Committee.

In his campaign literature, Hartung pushes for fiscal responsibility, opposes consolidation and favors shared services agreements. He would like to institute an electronic-verify system for all Washoe County employment and contracts the county deals with, he said.

“I’ve never wanted to be a politician,” Hartung said. “I understand the issues very well and felt it was the time to run. I’ve been focused on our community.”

Another meet and greet opportunity will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Washoe County Senior Center, 1155 E. Ninth St. on May 16. For more information, contact Washoe County Senior Services at 328-2575.
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