Indian Hills trustees to choose new trustees

Three Indian Hills General Improvement District trustees must choose two new colleagues after residents voted to recall trustees Renee Haskell and Joanne Riekenberg.

Advertisements soliciting replacement candidates will appear in the Nevada Appeal and The Record-Courier, said Jim Bentley, the GID manager. Those ads must wait until Douglas County commissioners certify the recall election results, something they are expected to do today.

The remaining trustees will review letters of intent submitted by candidates.

Bentley said he expects statements by candidates, public comment and a decision by the trustees to be made at their Aug. 1 meeting. Nevada law requires the trustees to name replacements within 30 days of election results certification.

Art Baer, one of the organizers of the recall effort, believes new trustees will improve the district board.

"Now we'll finally have a chance for a functioning board of trustees," he said. "The board hasn't been functional for the past three years."

Haskell and Riekenberg, who could not be reached for comment, lost recall elections Tuesday night. Residents upset by their opposition to a community center and district office complex at James Lee Park targeted the women for removal.

Former trustee Dick Fairfax was also originally targeted. He resigned rather than face recall. Current trustee Dan Hall replaced Fairfax.

The community center issue has created shifting alliances of trustees and Indian Hills residents for more than two years. Haskell and Riekenberg questioned the proposed financing and operation of the center, which often placed them at odds with other trustees.

Recalling this turmoil, Baer said he's "happy people got involved (in the recall election)," although out of 1,387 eligible voters, only 384 cast ballots, a turnout rate of about 28 percent. Residents voted to recall Haskell 259 -125, and Riekenberg 264-119.

The low turnout means recall organizers can't claim an overwhelming voter mandate, despite an extensive get-out-the-vote campaign prior to election night.

"I'm surprised and a little upset at them," Baer said, referring to residents who didn't vote. "We contacted every registered voter in Indian Hills door-to-door."

Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed also expressed surprise at the low voter numbers.

"I truly thought that we would have a little higher than a 28 percent turnout. You'd like people to have a bigger commitment to the future of the district."

Still, Reed noted that special elections such as recalls usually only draw 25 to 35 percent of eligible voters.

Given the board's contentious history, it wouldn't be surprising if new trustees were hard to come by.

But, Baer said he doesn't think that's the case. "There are some very public spirited people who would love to serve on that board."

He also said despite his support for the community center, he had no plans to lobby the board members to appoint candidates who agreed with him.

"I'd just as soon the board members make up their own minds."


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