4 candidates file for city council race | TheUnion.com

4 candidates file for city council race

It's been 10 years since Nevada City has had a contested election for city council.

But barring any last-minute issues, the town's voters will have four candidates to choose from to fill two open seats this June.

As of mid-day Friday — the last day for candidates to file their papers with the city — incumbents Evans Phelps and Duane Strawser had filed, as had challengers Pauli Halstead and Erin Ruark Minett.

The top two vote-getters will serve four years on the five-person council and will take office in July.

There also will be a contested race for city treasurer, between incumbent David McKay and Niel Locke, the current city clerk.

The challengers

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Minett, a retired preschool teacher, has lived in Nevada City for 25 years. Her community volunteer work includes South Yuba River Citizens League, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Gold Run School Parent Teacher Club, Hospitality House, Barbara Schmidt Millar Triathlon and the Laura Wilcox Scholarship Fund.

In 2012, Minett ran for Nevada City School Board as a member of Friends of Nevada City Elementary, but lost to incumbent Trish Gerving.

"I decided to run for Nevada City Council to represent residential neighborhood concerns," Minett said in a prepared statement. "I believe we need a Council member that cares about the people that already live here."

Minett pointed to the fact that recent city elections have had candidates running unopposed, saying, "I believe it is critical that we hear all sides of the issues, and that the candidates have to campaign to hear what the voters care about. That has not happened here for some time."

As part of her campaign statement, Minett pledged to be a budgetary watchdog, maintain the integrity of city services and practice tolerance at the City Council table.

Halstead has been a vocal proponent of homeless services in Nevada City, and has served on the board of Sierra Roots. In 2015 she opened the Streicher House, which worked to fill a gap in service for homeless people by providing free food, showers and clothing during the daytime. The house was in operation until 2017.

The incumbents

Phelps' first four-year term on the Nevada City Council expires this year, and she has announced her plan to run for re-election in February.

Phelps served on Nevada City's Planning Commission for 12 years and ran the Outside Inn, a motel on East Broad Street, for more than a decade.

She has said she wants to push for the new trail on Sugarloaf Mountain and find new uses for the old Nevada City airport property. Phelps has also been a strong advocate for medical cannabis businesses, telling The Union she sees the city as a pioneer for the industry in Nevada County.

Back in January, Strawser said he had not decided whether he would run again.

"I decided yesterday," he said Friday. "I had told my family I wouldn't do it again."

According to Strawser, he changed his mind because he did not want to walk away in the middle of some very crucial issues for Nevada City, including homelessness, cannabis businesses, the future of the courthouse and the revitalization of some major buildings like the National Hotel and the Alpha Building.

"I think there needs to be high-quality leadership at the city," he said. "There are so many loose ends we need to get finalized."

Strawser stressed the city council needed members that were "experienced and well-rounded" and not just passionate about one issue.

"They will be dealing with budgets and unions and street repair and police and fire," he said. "I felt I needed to run."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.