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Candidate Q&A: Clair Morris, Elko City Council

Candidate Q&A: Clair Morris, Elko City Council

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How successful do you think the city’s downtown revitalization matching grant program has been, and what changes would you like to see in the downtown environment over the next four years?

The Downtown Revitalization Program has been a great success. The completed projects have had a huge impact on making the downtown area viable for businesses to stay downtown as well as draw more businesses to the downtown area. Business owners have a renewed sense of pride in their businesses, and as an extension, our entire community. The requirement of matching funds from the businesses shows their buy-in into the projects and community improvements. The maintenance obligation required ensures the improvements continue to be maintained. I think the Downtown Revitalization Program is tremendous and would support it for years to come.

I believe the next five years of the Downtown Revitalization Program will only continue to improve the environment of downtown. It will bring more people and families to the area to enjoy the economic revitalization, the private development and preservation of the City’s historic features. Blighted conditions in the area will actively be addressed and improved.

Would you consider giving tax breaks to large businesses to encourage them to locate in our community?

I would consider each request for a tax break on a case-by-case basis. All such requests are unique and not considering the value and cost of each would be irresponsible.

Diversifying our economy is paramount for sustainability during down times for other industries. I would like to see new businesses in the area be American-owned.

Large companies know what population base they need to be successful and have already looked into the viability of the company in Elko before making such a tax break request. The assumption has to be made if a company is making a tax break request, they have already done the footwork to know they can be successful in Elko. Thus, the need for every City Councilperson to do their due diligence and thoroughly consider each request.

Do you approve of closing or penalizing businesses for noncompliance with state COVID-19 mandates, and what changes would you make in local handling of the pandemic?

The pandemic will have a long-reaching effect on our economy if businesses are forced to continue to not open for business. Businesses in Elko have already gone out of business permanently. This unfortunate outcome affects numerous aspects of our lives and economy. Jobs are lost, people are forced to relocate, rentals of commercial building and residential housing will be negatively impacted and the sales tax base is decreased, which directly affects the City of Elko’s ability to continue to provide services for its citizens.

I feel that the City of Elko can make directives affecting the protection of its citizens to include social distancing, wearing masks and hygienic responsibility. We need to take personal responsibility for our health and if ill or displaying COVID-19-like symptoms, get tested and stay home.

The responsibility of ensuring business compliance with the Governor’s mandates falls on the shoulders of the Nevada Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

The Governor announced that non-compliant businesses would face violations from local licensing agencies, regulatory authorities and Nevada OSHA, but the violations have not been codified in the City of Elko Codes or Elko County Codes. Also unknown is the ability of a business to defend against a citation. I believe there needs to be more communication and discussion with business owners before penalties are imposed.

The City of Elko is spending $30,000 in advertising to help promote local businesses since the lockdown. What other measures can be taken to help struggling small businesses?

Local business is essential for the City of Elko’s economy and we need to support them any way we can. The advertising campaign is helping, but we can do more. We could offer virtual educational programs to teach businesses how to establish online storefronts, shipping options, customer outreach, etc. to allow them to sell products online and keep customers informed how they can utilize their services. We could establish a searchable social media platform specifically to educate the community on the services local businesses are offering and how citizens can support them. On an individual basis we need to patronize the businesses we did before the pandemic, whether it is by utilizing take out, delivery services or in-person purchasing.

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