Lake County Commissioner candidates Dan Shoun, Ken Kestner, Lucinda Nolan and Kenny LaPlant, Sr., addressed questions from the public during a Monday, April 21, forum at North Lake School.
The very first question put forth by moderator Ronne Lindsay called for opinions on term limits for the commissioner positions.
Shoun, Kestner and LaPlant, Sr., indicated they believed elections to serve in this role, but Nolan said she does not view the position as a career opportunity. Rather, she sees it as an obligation to “get the job done and move on,” and encourages others to become involved once her tenure is up, should she be elected.
On the subject of economic development, Shoun noted that a balance is needed between showcasing opportunities for growth while still not jeopardizing the quality of life of the region. Natural resources need to come back to the forefront in order to bring in jobs, he said.
LaPlant supports improving existing positive elements first, citing the Robert E. Flowerree Memorial Park in Christmas Valley as an example of a positive improvement.
In the south end, he said opportunities exist for potential development in the form of geothermal and natural gas development. LaPlant also agreed with Shoun on the point of natural resources serving as a great focus for economic development.
The candidates also shared a similar perspective on an age-old north-south Lake County social chasm, as one submitted question suggested the northern part of the county and it’s issues as neglected.
The initiative displayed by the residents of northern Lake County is something to be commended, the candidates said.
Shoun and Kestner were asked if the Christmas Valley Airport was a priority project for the county. Shoun noted a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 24, regarding a potential property transfer to the Christmas Valley Park and Recreation District, the governing body that owns and manages the airport facility.
The Lake County Roadmaster oversaw work to the airport’s helipad, Shoun said, and efforts are currently underway to bring in fuel tanks to the site that would be key in facilitating a flight school program for the region.
Kestner said the county can offer its assistance and support to the district, which serves as its own governing body.
Questions directed to Nolan included whether she proposed any changes to how the Board of Commissioners conduct their meetings. Nolan said she plans to be present in the North Lake area one day a week.
Regarding lack of public support for “pet projects,” Nolan said she would not push projects through if the public did not support them. Shoun said he does not have “pet projects,” but works on things based on what the public wants to see done.
A spinoff to this latter question pertained to federal versus state ownership of public lands. Kestner said he would need more details as to five states purportedly supporting a lawsuit calling for the return of federal lands to respective state ownership and management.
LaPlant asserted that public lands are meant for the public and not the federal government.
He also voiced opposition to a proposed county ordinance regarding the operation of ATVs on county roads, specifically in the North Lake area. LaPlant’s concerns pertained to the benefit of implementation as an economic development mechanism to the cost necessary to enforce it by law enforcement.
Additional topics addressed included senior transportation options, grazing issues related to the BLM and protocol related to the Lake County Planning Commission.