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Candidates, voters interact

Thirty people sat in folding chairs on the church floor, the choir noisily rehearsed in the background, and there were no television cameras, pundits or hotshot political consultants.

The Ward 5 candidate forum Tuesday night was grassroots politicking, the kind of forum where candidates hope to connect with at least a few of the voters who could decide June’s election.

Ricki Barlow, a former City Council liaison, and Stacie Truesdell, a lawyer, fielded questions from Rancho Manor Neighborhood Association members at the First Christian Church on Rancho Drive near U.S. Highway 95.

After Councilman Lawrence Weekly became a Clark County Commissioner in early March, 10 hopefuls ran to replace him.

The two best-funded candidates emerged from the April 3 primary election.

Barlow got 43 percent of the vote, and Truesdell received the second largest percentage, 29 percent. Since no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote, Barlow and Truesdell will square off on June 5 in the general election.

Turnout is expected to be low — even lower than in the primary election — and candidates know that forums such as this offer one-on-one contact with voters.

Many of the questions, which had been given to the candidates in advance, had to do with neighborhood issues, such as unpopular residential developments in the neighborhood and concerns about how Nevada Department of Transportation has dealt with the area while widening roads.

"No other area is being squeezed on all four sides like Rancho Manor," Barlow said.

Barlow emphasized his work for the area as a liaison to Weekly. At one point during the event he continually used "we" to refer to accomplishments during Weekly’s tenure.

Truesdell said her background in planning would help residents dealing with developers. She emphasized that she would require developers to work with neighborhoods. Residents also should be better notified when projects were coming into neighborhoods, she said.

"I’d make notices clearer, so they would provide information on what is actually proposed," she said.

A number of questions centered on possible conflicts that Truesdell, who sometimes appears before the City Council and County Commission on developers’ behalf, would have.

She said she would recuse herself from votes in which the applicants are represented by her law office. She also said that if elected, she would not work in the local government portion of the law offices.

She also pointed to Councilman Steve Wolfson, who still runs his practice as a criminal defense attorney while serving in the part-time position on the council.

Barlow spoke up, saying the difference was that Wolfson represents criminals, not developers.

"We don’t have criminals coming before the City Council," he said.

At one point, Dan Deegan, an outspoken member of the neighborhood association, asked Truesdell if there would be any conflict because her campaign manager also represented a nearby Masonic temple, which has a billboard on its property.

Truesdell dismissed any conflict. "I will represent the people," she said. "His (Barlow’s) face was on the billboard for a long time, if you’re looking for ways to make a conflict."

Barlow responded, "She’s reaching."

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