(Nancy Dallas) – Mike Montandon, Republican candidate for Nevada governor, served three terms (12 years) as Mayor of North Las Vegas, (July 1997-July 2009). He is currently employed in the construction industry. Prior to arriving in Nevada 17 years ago, he was in commercial appraisal and land planning in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mike is a graduate of Arizona State University and has also completed the Harvard University Program for Senior Executives at the JFK School of Government. He is married to Antoinette and they have five children.
You served as a local city official. You have not had any State legislative experience. Why did you determine to run for Governor and not for a legislative seat?
I served in an executive capacity over one of the fastest growing large cities in America. During that time, I proved myself as a leader and a visionary who brought growth and opportunity to my constituents. I plan on achieving the same goals from Nevada’s chief executive office.
What would you consider your major accomplishments as Mayor?
I created a new process for land entitlement that eliminated the “contract” zoning that is referred to as “Resolutions of Intent.” I created the 5th Street corridor, including the Transit Supportive Land Use Plan. I helped establish the process and regulations for the SNPLMA law that allowed us to create Aliante. I used SNPLMA to acquire Craig Ranch, the largest green asset in NLV for a city park. Most importantly, I helped eliminate much of the stigma associated with NLV.
What personal attributes do you feel best qualify you for the position of Governor?
I am, first and foremost, a leader who is willing to make the hard decisions and to advocate for my constituents. I understand the role of government, and do what I can to make sure it works for the people it serves. I have the ability to listen to and communicate with my fellow Nevadans. Above all else, I have the capacity and desire to serve in public office to help Nevada achieve the greatness it deserves.
In serving others as their elected representative, I am honored with the responsibility of their trust. I have knowledge of our history and of how our government works, and a desire to continuously expand that knowledge. I have made the study of the U.S. Constitution and the understanding the proper role of government a daily practice. I would rather be considered a statesman than a politician. By holding public office, I have gained/grown/learned more as an individual than I have given as a public servant.
You appear to have a well-organized campaign team in place. What is your basic ‘game plan’ to reach out to the voters in the state? What do you estimate the Governor’s race will cost? Are you investing your own money in the campaign? To what degree?
My campaign team is well organized, and they are all dedicated to winning on Election Day.
Our “game plan,” so to speak, has many different aspects. Our primary objective is to work to identify and connect with the 60,000 voters I will need to win the primary election. In order to do this effectively, we estimate the cost will be somewhere in the range of $1.5 million. Once we have won the primary, we will need to spend an additional $4 million to win.
Spending years in public service has not left me with a fortune of my own to spend. However, as I did in my three successful bids for the office of Mayor in North Las Vegas, I will devote all of my time and attention on winning this gubernatorial race for the benefit of all Nevadans.
You have two announced Republican opponents in the race for governor. Why should the voters of Nevada select you over them?
I am the candidate with the proven ability to bring jobs and growth. I have the executive experience necessary to lead and I understand the key elements needed for Nevada’s economic recovery. I am the candidate who has a strong voice to attract businesses and jobs back to our state; the candidate who understands that we need to fix our educational system; the candidate who knows that, as Nevadans, all of our rights must be protected, including the right to life.
With my experience, Nevadans will not have to gamble with their votes in 2010. They will know what they are getting: a Governor who will bring success back to Nevada.
In addition to what I have written above, I offer the voters experience. I offer them an opportunity to change an educational system that isn’t working. I cannot and do not expect to be everything to everyone. I plan on making some hard decisions that may not sit well with some citizens.
However, the voters can expect more than just common sense from me. I will make the decisions that are consistent with the plan that has kept us well since statehood. I recognize that Nevada’s recovery starts with a firm understanding of key elements to economic recovery.
One key element is a listening ear to the voice of the people. It is the common voice of the people today which centers on attracting businesses to Nevada, job creation and driving critical improvements in our educational system. My candidacy does not ask the people of Nevada to gamble on their vote for me as Governor. My candidacy brings both executive experience and a clear and transparent public service record.
Clark County encompasses over three-quarters of the state’s population. You were the Mayor of North Las Vegas, a rapidly growing city and a large part of the Clark County population base. Do you feel you can adequately relate to the problems and concerns unique to northern and rural Nevada? Elaborate on a few of these issues.
It does sometimes appear as if there are issues unique to the northern and southern parts of Nevada, respectively. I am able to recognize how the issues of water and funding to each individual county are having an impact on local governments and populations. As Governor, I will be able to more accurately address the individual needs of each county in Nevada, and press forward with action that will not only assist each county individually but will empower all of Nevada to work together towards a brighter future.
Nevada has issues that impact everyone in the state, regardless of geography. The difference lies in how we address the issue. Education reforms will have varied appearances in different counties, but the goal will be the same: a well-educated Nevada. Tax reform will mean an array of actions, but again, the goal will be the same: a growing economy. The objective in all of this is to create a “New Nevada,” a rising/growing economy, and a promising tomorrow/brighter tomorrow.
Could you cite some concerns you see as specific to rural/northern Nevada?
The most specific concern is that rural NV does not want Southern NV to take their water. Also, lack of job creating industry is a serious issue in the rural areas. Incentive to add just one major employer to a rural area can make a huge difference. Along I-80, their top three concerns are mining, mining, and mining. In Churchill County, they have a big issue with the BLM taking away some of the revenue they were receiving from geothermal steam royalties. Douglas, Lyon, and Churchill county residents are concerned about any legislation or regulation that affects the beef, dairy, or alfalfa production.
As Governor, you will be dealing with the State Legislature, which in reality will probably still be dominated by the Democrats in 2011. How do you intend to address and succeed with your agenda under these circumstances?
It comes down to leadership. Leadership is not partisan. I will be able to go to work, every day, leading the legislature to work for the good of all Nevadans. They’ll have their approach and I’ll have mine. Both the Democrats and Republicans will be dealing with issues out in the open in front of the public, and every election both the Democrats and the Republicans will be held accountable for their actions. We will all be accountable to Nevada, and I will lead the legislature so that by the end of our terms, we will have worked together to improve the state.
Regardless the party, ideas have to be put out on the public table and debated. If ideas are going to be killed because of party politics, it will have to be done on the public stage. While it is common knowledge that the minority party will rarely win a deal negotiated in the back rooms, the real issue is that the public loses when deals come from back rooms. Nevada needs a governor who will walk across the street and tirelessly work with the legislature. For North Las Vegas, this meant attendance, deep study and review of issues, and a strong leadership voice in critical meetings. In my 12 years of public service I was absent only 3 times from those important city council meetings.
So, you will be regular visitor during session? Any other specific strategies?
Strategies will have to be created around the personalities present. I can’t say what they will be as we don’t know yet what the results will be of the next election.
What will be your primary legislative agenda?
My agenda begins with fixing our educational system. It is egregious to know that we rank the highest in high school dropouts. If we can all agree that children are the future, then we will collectively want to improve their standing in the future through a better education. Giving our youth the leg-up they need in life will also assure Nevada’s reputation as a pro-business, pro-economic growth state. With the proper intellectual capital put into place, Nevada will be able to attract more high value jobs than any other state in the Union. It will be my primary issue to bring choice, competition, and excellence to our system. The public will no longer buy the system we have, at any price.
You noted education. Any other specific priorities?
Support of a nationwide energy policy to include both renewable and nuclear power.
If the 2011 legislature votes to suspend the ‘sunset’ and continue the tax increases passed by the 2009 legislature, would you veto this action? How do you intend to address what is now projected to be approximately a $2.5 billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year?
I look at states like Arizona, also in a budget crisis, and I see an opportunity for Nevada to be a leader in how it addresses the deficit. While a veto might have to be put in place, we can still take action during the down side of this economic cycle to fix the inefficiencies which are plaguing our state’s budget. Cuts will be made, but a healthier budget will be the result. Reducing and eliminating the deficit now will be an important step towards guaranteeing a better economic outlook for all of Nevada in the near future.
I would veto suspension of the “sunset.” The best way to not have to do that is to provide a plan for reducing the deficit before it has to come to a veto. Yes, that means cuts. Most of the current budget crises come from not accurately defining nor understanding the proper role of government.
In citing Arizona, what specifically are you referring to? What specific efforts would you make to reduce budget deficits?
Arizona has a line item veto, and school choice, including vouchers. Vouchers also leave behind more $ per student in the public schools. Other efforts will be set forth after we see the results of the special session.
You endorse education reform, including broader state support of home, charter and empowerment schools. To what degree should the state financially support education efforts outside of the traditional public school system?
Parents know that the state system of education is no substitute for what they are capable of teaching their children in the home. The school system is there to help efforts made by parents to educate their children, and not the other way around. The reforms I speak of will work because they allow parents, not government, to decide which method of education is best for their children. For some, it will be charter schools; for others, it will be traditional public schooling. Some parents will feel it best to educate their children in the home. The bottom line is to make sure our children are getting the education they need to compete in the world.
I believe “traditional” education to be home or private schooling, not public schooling. But since we are into the business of educating our public, I believe in vouchers. I believe that parents should be taught that they are still the best source of education for their kids, and the school system is there to help. I am disgusted with the concept that so many parents I talk with comment on how public education sends a “parents are failures” message and that the only way their kids can succeed is to “get them out of the house and into the hands of the professionals.” I wonder why the parents aren’t involved.
To what degree should the state support these programs?
Vouchers should be approximately 80-85% of the per student funding.
You advocate spending 65-percent of every dollar dedicated to elementary school education in the elementary classroom. This would definitely disturb the teacher’s union and affect other elementary education expenditures. Without raising taxes, how would you address this issue?
Without a goal, we will never achieve anything. If I don’t say 65%, what is to keep it from going to 40%? Unions do not have the best interest of the teachers in this issue. Teacher pay is considered in the classroom spending, and this would be a positive benefit for the teachers themselves. It doesn’t require more taxes or spending. It requires a fundamental change.
The Governor just released his education reform proposals. The Democrats and teacher’s union are uttering the usual words of criticism. What is your position in regards to the following issues: (Elaborate)
An opponent is generally expected to criticize everything. I will not. My only criticism of this plan is why now? Why not when he first started?
The current public school funding formula
The formula will have to change, primarily with the introduction of vouchers. Several of the issues you list are not mutually exclusive. A solution to one changes the dynamics of the others. For example, a voucher for say, 90% of the cost of educating a child, when exercised, reduces the class size by one, and leaves behind 10% of the money for the public classroom. This allows us to have increased funding with smaller class sizes, which can improve the attention a teacher gives to each student.
Nevada’s current classroom reduction law
What applies to one school does not always apply to all schools. Teachers and principals should have more control over how their classrooms are structured, as they will best know how to serve their student populations. Blanket legislation like this can hinder some schools’ progress.
Full day kindergarten
We need to have data on what works and what doesn’t. First and foremost, if full-day kindergarten students do not have an advantage in the first grade, and the state cannot afford it, then it needs to be re-evaluated. However, I would be willing to look and see if full day kindergarten is a true benefit for the students whose parents choose to have them participate in it.
You would make it optional?
Collective bargaining for public school educators
Teachers deserve better than what the unions are offering them. Our teachers should have every opportunity to excel and do great things, not to mention be rewarded for their efforts. Collective bargaining is bad for the state and, more importantly, bad for the teachers who work so hard to stand out.
You would support eliminating collective bargaining for teachers?
You support greater economic diversity, broadening Nevada’s economic tax base. What specific steps would you promote to accomplish this goal?
A low tax environment will bring businesses into the state and provide better jobs for all Nevadans. We can attract the best businesses here by making it easier on them to operate. Lower taxes create a bigger bottom line, and a bigger bottom line can create more jobs that we need.
What we do know about our economy is that it cycles, and that it will go back up. The question is whether Nevada wants to be on the front or back part of the next up cycle? A low tax environment will bring the widget makers here first when they start making widgets again. I believe in the Laffer curve. I believe that we can attract the best and brightest business minds to Nevada by making business creation/profit gain easier on them. Part of this can be answered in question 14.
Specifically, what legislation would you propose/support to create a ‘low tax environment’?
We have one, and I used it often to attract businesses, even when we were competing with incentives from other states. We need to keep it. Over-regulation can also be the equivalent of raising taxes, and must be avoided.
Would you veto any legislation allowing for state employee collective bargaining? Explain.
Yes, I would veto this, because collective bargaining agreements do not benefit either side. Over the long run, they only prove to benefit those managing the pension funds or doing the negotiating.
What affordable energy producing programs would you promote? Do you support bringing nuclear power to Nevada?
The most affordable and efficient energy program is nuclear power. I support bringing it and the technology that new nuclear power could advance to Nevada. I know that energy policy decisions can take years to affect our daily lives, which is why I will act quickly to bring cleaner, safer energy to Nevada. This not only benefits Nevada’s ability to power itself, but it can also create a cleaner environment and thousands of jobs for Nevadans.
Our not making energy policy decisions now will have serious negative consequences that cannot be quickly remedied.
I am not a fan of storing anybody’s garbage in our backyard forever, but I am a fan of the jobs that could be generated in the 10-20 years it would take to develop great new reprocessing methods for spent nuclear fuel. I hold a strong vision of Nevada leading the nation in this arena with the brightest of scientists and high paying jobs in support of an efficient energy program focused on nuclear power.
Some strides have been made in creating greater transparency in Nevada government, particularly in regards to fiscal actions. What measures would you promote to further increase public access/visibility?
We have the technology to make every transaction visible. We should also make the true cost of all expenditures known, including unfunded liabilities. Most of the cities have personnel overhead in the range of 65%, plus potential unfunded pension liability. Citizens should know this to help them make informed voting decisions.
Health care reform is the hot topic of the day. What measures would you promote in addressing Nevada’s heath care concerns?
Unlike the Federal Government, I am prepared to have a public discourse about the true cost of health care reform, both in Nevada and on the national stage. Nevadans need to understand the ramifications of mandates and the future outlook of our government’s ability to pay. A well funded health care system can be something that pursues the greater good. However, we, as Nevadans, need to make sure we understand where our priorities lie so that we do not bankrupt the state or national economies in our zeal to move the system one way or another.
Any specific proposals?
We need to address EMTALA laws as they relate to illegals who are not paying into our systems and have a very public discussion on the costs of mandates. Most of the legislation around this matter is federal; however, the effects of passing this legislation brings the cost of federally mandated health care reform right back home to the governor’s office and makes it a huge concern for our state legislature and for our residents. Currently, we cannot debate the federal health care proposals when they are buried in 2,000 page bills. Transparency is key. Health care issues tie directly to educational issues, as every dollar the state expends on health care takes from dollars for education.
Is there a subject/topic I did not address that you would like to expound upon?
I am the one candidate who is pro-life, pro-freedom, and pro-business. I will bring to the table the executive experience necessary to bring Nevada out of this deficit and into a growing economy, just as I did in North Las Vegas. I am able to understand the issues crucial to all Nevadans, whether they live in Carson City or Bullhead City, Hawthorne or Henderson, Ely or Elko. My plans are to make a “New Nevada,” one in which our education and economy flourish in this young century.
There are and will be more issues to discuss, but I would like to reserve those for our next forum.