Learning about each candidate, what their goals are, and their experience and knowledge of the City of Ely is something that each reader learns through a candidate section.
The Ely Times reached out to all of the candidates in the form of letter to offer the opportunity for candidates to inform residents of Ely about who they are, and what they are about.
Three Ely residents have filed for City Council seat, 2. Mel Bahls, George C. Chachas, and Kurt Carson who re-filed for election of his current seat on the council. .
Seat 4 also has three residents who filed. Jim Alworth, Michelle Beecher and Geri Wopschall.
The Mayor’s seat has four candidates. Marion (Sam) Hanson, Nathan Robertson, William Sanford and Ed Spear.
The primary is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
The following are candidates who sent their bios and pictures to us.
MARION J. “SAM’ HANSON
In 2013 I was persuaded to run for the City Council, and have served since that time, including the last four years as Mayor Pro Tem. When the Ely Daily Times asked for an article six years ago, I provided one and began with these words: “I’m often curious about what motivates people to run for public office; in different times and places I’ve observed that some have an ax to grind, some wish to push a particular issue, some are wealthy and bored and have nothing better to occupy their time, and some are genuinely concerned about their community and want to make a positive difference. Why am I running?” I answered then: “Because several leading citizens whom I greatly respect feel that, among other reasons, my background in education—both as a high school government teacher and as one who has earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration—would benefit the city. So I entered this race out of a sense of civic duty—and to set an example for my students that a working democracy requires the active participation of its citizens, whatever their motives.
While those reasons still resonate with me, one reason now predominates all others: our incumbent mayor chose not to seek reelection; I had counted on her to do so, but appreciate her reasons for not choosing to continue, and am grateful for her dedicated service. As faithful readers of this paper know, a letter was received indicating the City and the Railroad Foundation were on the hook for approximately $385,000 for work allegedly done on the line to the north. Since that time, the City and the Foundation, working together have learned that the tenant may owe the City and Foundation a great deal of money. They also know that at the present time, the City and the Foundation are engaged in a lawsuit which will in a few months go to trial. With the current mayor not running, that litigation alone causes me to believe that the City needs someone who has full knowledge of the history and details of that litigation to fulfill the requirements of City Ordinance 1.5 and perform the executive duties of the office of mayor to see the current situation brought to the best possible outcome. Having been involved from the onset, and having attended most of the depositions (many at my own expense), I alone have that information because the very nature of litigation does not allow disclosure of anything not in the public record. Moreover, with the recent departure of the City Administrator, any incoming mayor will now have an even more strenuous task ahead. Each of the candidates running for mayor has something to bring to the table; but to insure stability at an unusually critical time, an even stronger sense of civic duty compels me to offer my candidacy—because I’m already seated at that table. Consequently, in this election I offer not only my background and education, but also specific experience through my six-year record, during which I have sought to:
•Professionalize the operations of the City to make citizen interface more efficient and user-friendly—the City’s website presents a good example of that effort.
•Vigorously defend the interests of Ely—working diligently to stave off the dis-incorporation effort, largely by traveling to Carson City and lobbying State officials to keep Ely as a City, not a GID, those efforts offer the foremost example of that defense.
•Pursue the continuous educational opportunities offered by the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities and Pool Pact to stay abreast of state and national legal changes and other events that impact municipalities.
•Listen to my constituents, presenting their issues before the City Council—even if I personally didn’t agree with them.
•Increase Ely’s economic and cultural potential by actively supporting Ely’s participation in the “Main Street” program and brought in specialists such as Roger Brooks to evaluate Ely’s opportunities.
That—in a very small nutshell—represents what I have done, and if elected as Ely’s Mayor what I will continue to do. When I ran six yeas ago, my campaign slogan was “Vote for Hanson, the ‘Studied’ Choice,” it was true then, and remains so today. And of course, the best thing that will happen if you elect me as your mayor, is that Rolayne will become the First Lady of Ely.
Vision, planning, cooperation. While Ely has made forward strides in some areas, it will take leadership with vision to become a long term sustainable entity that benefits its citizens.
My name is Nathan Robertson, and I am running for election as mayor of the City of Ely. I am a graduate of White Pine County High School. After attending college out of state and obtaining a bachelor’s of science degree in construction management, I chose to return to Ely and build my life here. I am the 5th generation of my family to do so. I lived in a number of other cities and states, and even overseas for a time. This helped me realize Ely was where I want to be. I’m committed to the success of our community because I love it, but also because I am a property and business owner here. I have skin in the game, as it were.
I believe in the importance of revitalizing our downtown and diversifying our economy. Having grown up here, I know what makes Ely the community we all love. But I want to make sure that growth happens in a way that allows this place we live in and love to keep its character and its personality. I would hate for Ely to become something we don’t recognize anymore. I want to see our community grow in a way that benefits those who call Ely home.
In the decade since moving back to my hometown, I have worked at being involved in our community. I have served as a board member of the White Pine Public Museum. Recently I was re-elected to a second term as a board member of the White Pine TV District, and spent a year as chairman. For several years, I have been a weekly volunteer at the White Pine County Library. I have also served on a number of ad-hoc committees and action groups for both the city and county.
In my professional life I have been involved in a number of development projects and infrastructure construction in our community. I have seen first-hand where we as a municipality excel in fostering development and where we could do much better. With these qualifications, I hope to guide the city of Ely toward becoming more welcoming to new business, and I plan on implementing measures to address issues such as aging streets and infrastructure, and our housing shortage.
Planning for our long-term growth is the key to making sure tax dollars go as far as they can. Moving the city from a state of reactionary spending and crisis management to proactive spending and long-term planning will go a long way to making this happen.
I believe it is time for a culture change in our city. It’s time to change from an us-vs.-them mindset. It’s time to change from a county-vs.-city attitude to seeing us as one community.
I am seeking your vote to continue the positives aspects of our city and to improve our community and city organization in new and exciting ways. Please consider the option and the future of our community and be sure to make your voice heard on April 2.
I just wanted everyone to have a candidates forum night so every one could share their views. My agenda is what’s best for Ely. I don’t sugarcoat any issues. I’m straightforward so the easiest way to explain this, I’m not a member of the railroad, I’m not a member of any fire department, I’m not a member of any local church, I’m not a family member of receiving any financial support from the “good old boys!” I’ve attended City council meetings for the last two years to gain knowledge of how the city government works. Together we can make a difference, and make Ely great again.
CITY COUNCIL SEAT 2
My name is Mel Bahls. I chose to run for city council because I want to see the city move forward, not backwards.
I have lived here for approximately 30 years and have worked numerous jobs and was employed as a deputy sheriff for eight years and worked at Ely State Prison for twelve years.
I have no hidden agenda. I will be at all city council meetings unless there is a family emergency, vacation or sick. I feel that there is no other reason someone that is being paid by the taxpayers should not be there.
I am not running to get rid of any employee’s unless they are not doing their job, not because I dislike them.
I have some ideas that would help but prefer not to make any statements on them at this time.
Also, how come not one of the candidates have said anything about the drug problem here, and tried to find ways to curb the problem?
Also, I am not one of the good ol’ boys.
Hi, I’m Kurt Carson I am currently serving on the Ely City Council on Seat 2. I want to continue representing the citizens of Ely for another four years. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Why do I want to serve you for another four years? My roots run deep here, I was born in Ely in 1975. In 1983, I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona with my mother. Every summer I would still come to Ely to stay with my Dad and visit with family and friends. Upon graduating from Flagstaff High School in 1994, I returned back to Ely and went to work in my family’s construction business that my grandfather started in 1969.
It has been my choice to live and work in Ely for the past 25 years. I married Amy Thomas in 1998 and we have three children that I am very proud of. Now that they are getting older and staring a life on their own, my wife and I are glad we had the opportunity to raise them in Ely. I work as the Maintenance Supervisor at McGill-Ruth G.I.D. My family and I enjoy the outdoors, if I have any spare time, you will find me and my family out hunting, fishing or just exploring.
Now that I have told you about myself, let me tell you why I decided to run for the Ely City Council again. It was a very tough decision for me, I never really wanted to be in the political spotlight. In all honesty, the past 4 years went by way too fast and now I know why government is so slow. I believe that we are at a pivotal point as a community. With the right nucleus of people, we can make Ely, a clean small town that everyone can be proud of with vibrant businesses downtown.
During my time on the Council, I have always tried to spend the taxpayer’s tax dollars as effectively as possible. I have worked hard to save every tax dollar that I could. I was even accused of trying to run the City of Ely as a business, that’s exactly what I was (and I am) trying to do and with your vote, I will continue to do so.
I did not think it was a good idea to be renting office space for our City Hall. I took the lead, along with many volunteers, to remodel our old city hall and move back into it. This saved taxpayers thousands of dollars.
I have worked with the county on many projects and proposals. Frankly, not all of them have worked out. I want you to know that I am committed to try and maximize every tax dollar that needs to be spent. We can do this by combining services with the county to stop the duplication of services that wastes your tax dollar.
The Nevada Northern Railway has been a hot topic in every sense since I have been in office. As a Councilman, it is my job to protect the City of Ely’s interest in the railroad. I tried to keep an open mind and help the railroad out as much as possible. My reason is, because at the end of the day, it is our biggest tourism generator. We have straightened out a lot of issues with the railroad and I am proud to say, we are on a united front with them now.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to help me over the past four years. I’m truly humbled by the amount of good hearted people who believed in me enough, to help support me in any thing that I needed done. Being a member of the Ely City Council is a very demanding profession and takes a tremendous amount of time and effort in order to be successful at it. I want you to know that I am committed to making that effort.
I also want to encourage more public input. Please take the time to share your thoughts with me, or come down to the meetings and let your voice be heard.
You can reach me at 775-289-3718.
I’m George Chachas candidate for Ely City Council Seat 2. I am A Viet Nam Veteran and a graduate of Weber State University with BS degree in History and a Minor in Police Science. I am a former City Councilman and served as Mayor two different terms. I’ve served as vice-chairman of the W.P. County Central Committee, served on the Tourism and Recreation Board as a member and chairman. I was employed as a security / EMT, then as a fire inspector and then as a safety and security inspector for Kennecott Copper. Presently I am a local business man operating the local Radio Shack Dealership.
The City right now is a ship without a sail and no one at the helm. The Council has failed to hire a City Treasurer with a BS degree in accounting as required by City code for months, instead they are paying an out of state accounting firm. Our streets are falling apart and the Council is taking monies from the street fund ($4000) to pay for so called beautification on Aultman another $4500, which should have been budgeted and come out of the General fund to join a economic development group. The City Council at their last meeting voted to pursue the purchase of Avenue A, a dirt road running the front length of the Railroad Museum for $90 thousand. If the road is that important to the Railroad, then they should buy it. They receive over $230,000 from the room tax revenues and possibly millions since they convinced the City Council to drop their oversight and allow them to operate as a separate entity. However the taxpayer will never know because the Railroad doesn’t operate under the Nevada Open Meeting Law. The Council claims that it wants to beautify the community but has done nothing to enhance the area where a $12 million first class hotel is being built between two junk yards that have not put up vision blocks. One of the properties is exercising its ” Freedom of Speech” according to the City Council by posting signs that state “Boned by the City Council”, “Bite Me” and the old classic “Blow Me’ now that may be what one could call a tourist attraction.. My opponent is allowing selective enforcement of City codes, for example the failure to meet minimum street widths at the corner of Campton and Great Basin Blvd also the approach from Avenue L to Great Basin.. They are to narrow and if someone is parked on the street, one has to move over and is traveling into possible on coming traffic. On Park Avenue and also on Ave K near Great Basin Blvd there has been encroachment onto the City right of way, no sidewalk with disability access to two State Offices. I also have a major concern that the Fire Dept may have incurred $60 to $80 thousand in overtime. It is time for a change in the make up our City Council. I have the experience and the desire to serve our City well. Elect George Chachas ,for City Council .
CITY COUNCIL SEAT 4
My reason for running for Seat 4 on the Ely City Council is simple. The financial condition of the City of Ely is totally unacceptable. The morale of the City employees is at an all-time low and I feel the employees are your greatest asset, they can either make you or break you. The City and County have started working together on several projects over the past couple of years and I hope the time has come to continue working together and sharing knowledge between the two entities. Communications is the key.
It has always been my belief the City of Ely should be ran like a business. The stockholders of the “business” are the citizens of the City of Ely, they expect sound decisions from management and the members of the City Council. Good financial decisions need to be made, budgets must be prepared with fiscal responsibilities and adhered to. People must be held accountable for exceeding their respective budgets. If the business begins to fail, there must be hard decisions made to avoid a failure. If there needs to be a restructuring of job duties, you do it, if the cost of professional services need to be decreased, you do it, if expenses begin to exceed budgeted revenue, you cut back on spending until revenue is greater than expenditures. Plain and simple!
After working in financial positions in mining for twenty-seven years, I decided to make a career change. I was hired by the City of Ely in June of 2000 as the City Treasurer working up to the position of City Clerk over the next 13 years. In June of 2013, a newly elected Council exercised their right and replaced me as City Clerk. I have since been employed by White Pine County for the past 6 years working in the Road Department as the Equipment and Parts Manager. My sights are set on retiring in the very near future. While employed by the City, I gained experience and knowledge on the procedures and operations of the 11 Governmental Funds and the 3 Proprietary Funds at that time. They have since created another Proprietary Fund.
The General Fund, in my opinion, is being negatively impacted by a hefty yearly payment to the County for Police Protection that will max out to nearly $500,000 per year. The County should be compensated for this service, but this seems extreme since the residents of the City are also White Pine County residents. I believe the Council at the time this agreement was approved had no idea the impact this was going to have on the future of the General Fund. I would like this agreement to be renegotiated; however, there is not an “out” clause in the agreement! The Road Fund receives revenue from gasoline tax generating roughly $170,000.00 per year. In comparison, the County’s allocation of gasoline tax is around $1.5 million dollars. Keep in mind this allocation is based on gasoline sold in the City of Ely and the few other gas stations in White Pine County, then allocated on road miles in the City and on approved roads in the County. The City streets leave a lot to be desired and the only way to improve them is with a lot of money, money the Road Fund doesn’t have and never will. Cooperation with the County might be the answer but even then, it will take several years for repairs and a plan implemented to seal and preserve the improved streets the City currently has. The Water Fund has miles of old water lines in the City that need to be replaced. Expensive to replace not only in cost of material and labor but the majority of the lines lay under City streets, dig up the water line you then have to repair the street. The users of the City water are being charged a monthly fee for Capital Improvements, hopefully this amount has been recorded correctly for these type of repairs. The Sewer Fund, we all know, what it’s about and what purpose it serves. The Waste Water Treatment Plant is the end of the stream, so to speak. This plant is in need of very expensive upgrades and improvements. If the plant goes down for an extended time and cannot process waste it’s not going to be pretty. There needs to be a plan put together for these upgrades quickly with a deadline set. Once again, I hope the money received for Sewer Capital Improvements have been recorded correctly. The Ely Regional Landfill or Landfill Fund has been a source of emergency funding for the General Fund in the past few years. This has to stop! The Landfill Fund requires planning into the future for expensive repairs including purchases of heavy equipment. Has this long term planning been implemented or are they managing by crisis? This Landfill is designated a “Regional” landfill, managed by the City of Ely and has always been difficult collecting landfill payments from out of City users. There is land allocated near Copper Flat, west of Ely for the construction of a landfill along with septic disposal. In past years, former City Mayor’s would send a letter to the County Commissioners after every yearly “Life of the Landfill” survey was conducted giving them notice when the expected closure of the City’s Regional landfill would be. During that period it ranged from 36 to 25 years depending on usage and classification of waste. What is the current year of expected closure now? Should plans be started for constructing another Regional Landfill?
The City of Ely is part of Nevada history and it is my hopes that it can continue to be identified as the City of Ely but in order for this to happen it will have to be financially able to fund it self. Hopefully with accountability and some cooperation from White Pine County there could be some sharing of the Net Proceeds from the mines and PILT funding, for not only the City of Ely but for the other communities in the County.
MICHELLE COSTELLO BEECHER
My name is Michelle Costello Beecher and I am running for Seat 4 of the Ely City Council. My husband James and I live in Ely and keep busy chasing after our three very active kids. I am also the Lending Associate at the Rural Nevada Development Corporation, providing commercial loans to the small businesses in Rural Nevada.
My children are 5th generation residents of White Pine County. I absolutely love the community that we live in and the opportunities that are available to our kids. We are active members of the Steptoe Valley Soccer Club, White Pine Little League, Elyte All-Star Cheer, White Pine Jr. Jazz, and White Pine Jr. Wrestling programs, not to mention volunteering for Relay for Life, and Parent Teacher Organizations at two local schools. It is a great source of pride to me that our community is able to offer all of these activities and more to help produce well-rounded adults who will become the backbone of our community someday.
While life for us is pretty busy, I have been taught by my dad, my grandpas, my great grandpa, all of whom held public office here, you’re never too busy to give to your community. In fact, it is an obligation. I would love nothing more than the opportunity to serve on the City Council, bringing thoughtful, level-headed, collaborative solutions to our community.
I have a passion for Rural Nevada, especially our little corner of it. Working for Rural Nevada Development Corporation has given me the fantastic opportunity to help develop and grow communities like ours to an amazing extent. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a business thrive in these rural areas when a big-city bank has said they had no chance. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to serve this city as it grows in a stable, sustainable way. I love this city. I love the people here and how wonderful and community-minded they are. I love the mountains, I love the national park, I love the fishing, and I love the summer nights.
As you can see, I have a vested interest in Ely and its success. My family has been here for generations and I hope will continue to be for generations more. My hope is that someday our kids and grandkids will have a thriving, robust city to raise their own children in and I need your help to make that happen. On April 2nd, I’m asking for, and counting on, your vote for Seat 4.
I was born in Billings Montana, May 29th 1946, under the name of Geraldine Stark.
At 6 years old I moved to Brigham City, Utah, at the age of 18, I moved to Pasadena, California, where I remained until 2003. While in California I married. My husband and I ran a painting contracting business for 38 years. I was involved in the exchange student program and had kids from all over the world live with me at different times.
I have 2 children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
I attended Pasadena City College studying business law.
In 2003 I move to McGill Nevada to retire. I then moved to Cross Timbers and with the passing of my husband in December of 2013, I came out of retirement and went to work for RSVP, one of the best decisions of my life. I was able to meet seniors and their families throughout White Pine County.
When circumstances occurred that I had to leave RSVP, I moved to Ely and started writing for the newspaper about public meetings. It was my findings that most people did not know what was going on in their own communities. I have learned a lot about the people of Ely and White Pine County and admire them greatly.
Along with writing for newspapers and White Pine Talking ( Facebook), I have continued to volunteer wherever I can. One thing I am part of and enjoy immensely is the Northern Nevada Fresh Food Distribution.
For the last 4 years, every time an election comes up, I’m asked if I will run. This time I said yes. I do feel I have a lot to offer. I know how a meeting is run, I have learned to check facts and I will always keep the opinions of the community foremost in my voting.
In the last 5 years I have attended every meeting possible to learn more about the people in this area. There are a lot of meetings. I am a presently a member on LEPC Board.
If I say I am going to do something , I always do my best.
I would appreciate your vote and I thank you for the opportunities that I have had in this area.