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Candidate Q&A: Mandy Simons, Elko City Council

Candidate Q&A: Mandy Simons, Elko City Council

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What do you think about the success of the downtown revitalization matching grant program and where do you see the city’s downtown environment in five years?

The revitalization matching grant has been a huge success. The Cowboy Gear and Arts Museum, Western Folklife Center, JM Capriola, and many other businesses in the downtown corridor have all benefited greatly from this matching grant. The grant has encouraged these businesses to put their own money up to match the amount given in the grant to maintain and revitalize the downtown. Outdated designs on many downtown businesses are being stripped away and the original timeless design of the buildings are being restored.

The grant and matching dollars of many hard-working business owners has given the downtown momentum to continue revitalization. Over the next five years, I foresee many current downtown business owners continuing to improve the design of their businesses. This will continue to drive new businesses and art into the downtown area. As City Councilwoman, I will continue to use my public service to promote the revitalization matching grant, encourage other downtown businesses to take advantage of it, and continue to take down barriers and encourage businesses to move to and thrive in Elko’s downtown.

I also hope that by working with our congressional delegation, we can acquire the railroad property in the downtown corridor. This would give the city another great opportunity to beautify the downtown area, encourage investment, and eliminate an existing area of blight.

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

Tax breaks are generally an incentive that has been used on the state level to lure high-profile

investment to the state. These tax incentives have been used in the past to lure sizable investments by the likes of Tesla and Apple into the state. That being said, I do believe that tax breaks can be an important tool to reduce barriers on business owners, big, small, new, and old, that can ultimately improve an area.

On a local level we often use other tools as well to encourage investment in our community. There is a statutory process available to the city that can be used to dispose of property as an economic development exception. We have also partnered on projects, investing taxpayer dollars, as an incentive to move them forward in a timely manner. Recently, the council decided to eliminate telecommunication franchise fees to encourage desperately needed broadband investment in the City of Elko.

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?

No, I do not believe in penalizing businesses. Elko has been a model city in Nevada for handling the pandemic. Rather than penalizing business owners for a virus that is out of their control, we have provided resources and information to help them keep their businesses and patrons safe while keeping their doors open for business. My main goal through the pandemic has been to keep Elko residents safe while trying to avoid a financial catastrophe in our city that would surely come from ordering businesses to close.

I of course encourage the public to wear masks, as I believe this will be one of the ways we will be able to get our status elevated so that all our businesses and schools can open again. I hope that as businesses do their best to follow the mandates passed down, and citizens do their best to wear masks and maintain social distancing, we can together get our business community back on their feet.

I plan to work with city and county officials to make sure that every Elko resident that wants to vote is given an opportunity to show up to the polls on November 3rd in a safe environment. Lastly, and what I believe to be very important, I plan to make sure our churches and places of worship are never closed.

Elko residents have a right to vote and worship as they believe. The Elko City Council has a duty to protect those rights.

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?

The partnership between the County and City to provide marketing to local businesses will hopefully be a boost they need to survive this shutdown. We also delayed water shutoffs during a time when many were out of work, and have allowed businesses that have never reopened the opportunity to push back their licensing payments. However, there is more than can be done. I believe the county and city need to develop a one stop shop where businesses can get information on compliance as well as help applying for business grants through the federal government.

I also hope that we can evaluate any CDBG funds we may have access to and evaluate if these funds might be redirected to a grant match program for small businesses. We have good businesses. If they can keep their doors open, the free market will allow them to thrive. I will continue to look for ways that we can help keep these small businesses’ doors open.

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