My fellow Douglas County citizens,
As we approach the final days of this election cycle, I want to reaffirm my positions on several issues I feel are vitally important as our county goes forward over the next several years, I also want to clarify how different my perspective on how to govern is from my opponent, Charles Holt. His distortions, misunderstandings, and straight out untruths cannot stand unchallenged.
My campaign slogan from the inception has been "Let's be Safe, Let's be Sound, and Let's be Rural!"
RDA2: A majority of our current county commissioners have voted to tie up in excess of $3 million dollars annually ($113 million dollars in total) in new property tax revenue available from the multi-million dollar Tahoe Beach Club condos. This new revenue could be used to benefit our entire county. Yet, due to Redevelopment Area No. 2 (RDA2), that revenue has to be spent on projects that strictly benefit the casino corridor at Stateline. Already, $34.25 million of that revenue has been committed to finance an event center there that is a questionable investment at best. We need to dissolve RDA2 and redirect that revenue to priority needs throughout the county.
My opponent previously agreed with me on this dissolution, but has changed his mind and now supports RDA2. He has "bought in" to the bad math and nonsensical arguments being made by the casino corridor lobby. When he asserts "Taxes will go up," he's got it backward. If we KEEP RDA2 we will need to find "new sources of revenue" to accomplish what truly needs to be accomplished (revamped JLEC, construction of Muller Parkway, fixing roads, addressing water quality).
Development: More than 7,000 new homes are currently already approved and ready for development, none of which can be classified as affordable or workforce housing, but rather are priced in the $500K+ range. With 21,000 homes now in the county, that will increase our housing by 30% without any new roads, increase the seriously clogged traffic in our business corridor of 395, and overwhelm our aging, overcrowded Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. The county has no new schools planned, nor does its budgeting anticipate adding any new fire protection infrastructure. In addition, a most concerning issue that arises when development of this magnitude is on the horizon is the over-appropriation and diminishment of our most precious natural resource WATER!
My opponent says we will stagnate without "Smart" growth. I ask you, what is smart about adding 7,000 new homes without taking into account the many additional costs to us taxpayers? It only takes looking at how badly the county has failed to keep up with maintaining its infrastructure under the pace of development for the last two decades to see the hole the county digs for itself by embracing unbridled "development" as a source of revenue. Despite the mantra constantly repeated by the developers (and most recently by my opponent as noted), the reality is that "Growth does not pay for itself." Planning in this county needs a renewed vision. We need to slow down and bring true prosperity while we "stay rural."
Taxes: When I announced my candidacy last year I signed the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." This pledge originated with the "Americans for Tax Reform" and has been around since 1986. It is meant as a way for voters to hold politicians' feet to the fire when they are tempted to take the easy path of raising taxes to finance the politicians' "wishlist" of things they, or the special interests that control them, want government to do. When I signed that Pledge, I was promising you, my fellow citizen, that as a county commissioner I will not vote to enact any new taxes upon you without your direct vote to do so at the ballot box! Raising taxes is a serious matter. Governments should be spending your tax dollars carefully. Requiring a vote by the people re-inforces those ideas. In May, during a debate, my opponent agreed with me that taxes are regressive. He stated the Pledge was a fine idea. Now, he sings a different tune entirely. He favors giving the Board of Commissioners free rein to raise taxes whenever a majority decides that would be a good thing (for whatever reason they invent). I believe in being accountable to the people, and I proudly stand by the Pledge.
While we elect county commissioners in a partisan manner, the issues we face are universal to our community regardless of party affiliation. I, Mark Gardner, ask you now for your vote to serve and represent YOU.
Let's be SAFE, SOUND, and RURAL!
I, Mark Gardner, Need your vote now more than ever to insure our county gets back upon the SAFE and FINANCIALLY SOUND track!