Four line up to lead Carson City

Campaign signs aren't up. Platforms haven't been set. And although the primary election is more than three months away, four men are already starting to get the word out on how and why they want to lead Carson City.

They don't exactly have all the answers yet. After all, three of them filed for office on May 15, the last possible day.

Less than a week later, Tom Keeton, incumbent Ray Masayko, Tom Tatro and Neil Weaver are beginning to look at how they can guide Carson City into the future. What that future holds, however, depends on which candidate you ask.

Tom Keeton, 67, moved to Carson City in 1997 after he and his wife, Kaye, made three trips along the West Coast looking for a place to retire.

"I think I feel a real attachment to the city," Keeton said. "I've always liked politics and I decided I wanted to be involved. I decided to jump in with both feet."

Keeton admits he is still learning a great deal about how Carson City operates, but as a former advertising manager for the Lockheed Corp., said he knows he has the leadership abilities to help the city run more efficiently.

He said taking the modern corporate management philosophy of getting out and talking with employees and the public would encourage people to tell him what's on their mind.

He doesn't approve of layers of government creating roadblocks for either employees getting their jobs done or for the public letting officials know what's on their minds.

"This town is big enough to do anything it wants to do but is small enough to let almost anyone wants to be involved get involved," he said. "I don't get a sense that the city has a clear idea of what they see themselves to be for the future. It could be a retirement community, a manufacturing center. I don't see someone promoting one idea."

Keeton said he supports law enforcement and schools and would like to see the mayor take a bigger role in supporting school issues, like bonds. He would also like to see the area marketed more heavily for its recreation potential and perhaps as a new hot-spot for technology companies.

Ask Mayor Ray Masayko, 55, to list his accomplishments over the last four years, and he brushes the question aside.

"I work in a consensus. This isn't a one-man show," he said. "There's more than enough credit for everyone."

Push him a little more and he picks up a 4-inch-thick stack of bound legal paper. It's his record of phone calls he's returned over the last four years.

"I've gotta work hard every day," he said. "It takes work. It takes time. I like doing it. I'm open and accessible"

Being Carson's mayor was Masayko's first foray into the political arena. He was elected in 1996, capturing 51 percent of the vote to defeat opponent, Patt Quinn-Davis. Since his election, he said, he and the board of supervisors have kept the freeway on track and have focused on creating "professional, efficient and cost-effective government."

That's what he promised when he was elected and he's lived up to those promises, he said.

"I ran as somebody who stood back and said, 'Things are going pretty well,'" he said. "Things are still going pretty well."

The freeway is coming along, and he said he's committed to seeing both phases constructed continuously. The freeway gas tax was approved during his tenure and he cites a litany of issues important to him - storm drainage funding, the golf course, quality of life, growth, maintaining history, the V&T Railroad - that will likely be scrutinized in coming months.

One of his primary concerns is the city's fiscal situation. The "sales tax gravy train" is no longer a sure thing, he said, and that situation needs serious attention.

"My mission is to represent what are the best interests of the citizens of Carson City," Masayko said. "I've been a booster and promoter of Carson City.

"It sounds trite, but I enjoy the opportunity to make a difference. I don't have a big ego, I don't want things named after me. I want to leave the city better than how I found it."

Former city supervisor Tom Tatro, 42, wants to make the city better, too. He spent nine years on the Board of Supervisors, filling a year and a half of one term and being elected twice.

A lot of the momentum he experienced while sitting on the board is gone, he said, and the teamwork among board members doesn't seem as strong.

"It doesn't appear the board is pulling in the same direction," he said. "I don't see new things being started. Things are being finished that were started or planned years ago. What is our direction? We need to create an environment where people can bring forward ideas.

"There are no really brand-new ideas. What you have to do is find out what will work and how to apply different approaches and not accept what you have just because it's the way it's always been done."

He was chairman of the Redevelopment Authority and worries that redevelopment lacks direction.

He would also like to see a code of ethics imposed so it's clear what the public can expect from elected officials, as well as being vigilant that everything used to make decisions is part of the public record. Tatro also wants to see more people involved in city government.

The city's fiscal situation worries him, too. As a supervisor, he said, the board worked hard to create financial stabilization policies that don't seem to be heeded now.

He pointed to the supervisors funding positions for next year with one-shot money. He called that move risky.

"It's not the most responsible way to make a decision, not knowing how you're going to fund it next year," Tatro said.

Despite the fact that Tatro has a full-time job as fiscal manager for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, he's convinced the job of mayor wouldn't be too much for him to handle.

"I'm familiar with what's involved, and based on experience, I know this is doable," Tatro said. "I'm really careful that one area doesn't creep into the other.

"I don't see any political conflicts. I'll need to commit more time, probably in the evenings and weekends, and I'll probably have to do something different than when I was on the board. But I'm comfortable with it.

"I want to be mayor because I have a strong attachment to this community, a knowledge of the issues the city faces and how the city works. And I know that we can do better than we are right now."

Neil Weaver says he is the outsider in the race.

"Face it, I'm the underdog," he said. "I would like to ask the other candidates to come up to the political and moral high ground and not take money from special interests. Then no one can make accusations later.

"I could go to the correct dinner, shake the correct hands, but that's not what it's about. I have what it takes. It's about talking one-on-one to the people. I'm on the common level with the rest of Carson City."

Weaver, 48, has run for office before, losing a bid for Ward 3 supervisor to Pete Livermore in 1998. Yet he says he never sees anyone new running for office.

If elected, he will serve no more than one term, he said, "because there are no fresh ideas with long terms."

"I am an individual who has been an entrepreneur all his life," he said. "I am more goal- and performance-oriented than those who have been institutionalized. I have a fresh vision because I have to make it work."

Weaver owns and operates Weaver Aircraft. A 12-year resident of Carson City, Weaver said he doesn't have a "clear vision of what Carson City is trying to be."

Although he doesn't have a specific answer yet to what his vision would be, he did say he thinks getting rid of the district attorney's position in favor of a city attorney would be a good start to a better run city government.

He also thinks capitalizing on the city's history with things like the V&T Railroad and the area's mining roots will put the town on the map. Doing more for transportation, law enforcement and the fire department are also high on his list.

"When I want to get something done, I go out and do it," he said. "I'm not a poster child. I'm not typical, but the city can benefit from what I have to say and do."


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