Jul. 25, 2008
Nye County Commission District II
Nye County District 2 Commissioner Joni Eastley, a Tonopah resident, will seek election to a third term in November. She faces opposition from fellow Republican Jim Petell of Pahrump.
District 2 includes Tonopah, Beatty, Amargosa Valley and the northwestern part of Pahrump Valley, north of Bell Vista Avenue and west of Linda Street.
An Ohio native, where she worked as a special projects supervisor for Central Telephone Company for 10 years, Joni Eastley moved to Nevada in 1984. She worked for 14 years in various human resources positions at Round Mountain Gold Corporation.
Eastley began her political career when she was elected to the Round Mountain Town Board in 1988, where she served as chairwoman for five years. Eastley was instrumental in the construction of Round Mountain town facilities.
In November 2000, Eastley defeated Susan Brown 616 votes to 427 to win election to Nye County Commission District 2. She won re-election in 2004 without opposition.
Eastley said she puts in a lot of time in her job, trying to help rural Nye County communities become economically sustainable. Eastley said she tries to make as many town board meetings in her district as possible, which includes Beatty, Amargosa Valley, Tonopah and the northwestern part of Pahrump.
"I have an excellent, working relationship with state and federal agencies and that has benefitted the work I have done and I want to continue that. I think I am fiscally responsible," Eastley said.
"I believe in low taxes. I'm committed to holding the line on not increasing taxes, which I indicated in my vote on (not) passing an increase in the county sales tax. I would not support an increase in the county sales tax rate," she said. Eastley recommended instead implementing a fire protection district in Pahrump.
Eastley said she's been successful at obtaining grant money, particularly Federal Aviation Administration grants to upgrade infrastructure at rural airports. She is president of the Nevada Airport Managers Association, one of the duties that often takes her to Carson City.
Eastley was appointed to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Mojave Southern Resource Advisory Council (RAC). She said collaboration with federal agencies is important in a county where 98 percent of the land is under federal management and helps smooth grant projects.
"I have, within the last year worked on various levels with approximately eight renewable energy projects from Lathrop Wells all the way north to Tonopah. I have worked with a company called Solar Millenium. They have taken an option on 640 acres of land at the Tonopah Airport," Eastley said.
She also reported negotiating with an international firm that wants to put in a cargo port at Tonopah.
Eastley is also chairwoman of the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority and secretary of the Tonopah Development Corporation. She is a past president of the Rotary Club of Tonopah where she was named a Paul Harris Fellow; is a past president of the Nevada Association of Counties; was a founding member of No To Abuse and a founding member of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park Foundation board.
Recently, Eastley was appointed to the board of Preserve Nevada, a group formed by former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan dedicated to preserving Nevada's cultural heritage. She leads a partnership dedicating to preserve Rhyolite.
Eastley is the Nye County Commission liaison for senior nutrition, Economic Development of Nye County Inc. (EDEN), a liaison on nuclear waste with Chairman Gary Hollis, liaison with the Tri-County Working Group and does county jail inspections.
Though she's a Tonopah resident, Eastley doesn't see herself as a northern commissioner. She agreed with a Tonopah town board member -- who responded to complaints about all the resources directed to Pahrump -- by saying the county was one big family.
Eastley said 40 percent of the voters in her district lived in Pahrump during the 2004 election, over 900 registered voters.
"My district is 2,000 square miles and I'm all over it at any given time," Eastley said. "We have to hang together and protect ourselves from speculative interests."
Jim Petell, a regular participant in Nye County and Pahrump town board meetings, usually states after announcing his name during public comments that he's a citizen, taxpayer and voter.
Now he wants to be an elected official as well, sitting at the table making the decisions.
Petell, 52, a 13-year resident of Pahrump, was formerly chairman of the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Board and the town's liaison to the Southern Nye County Conservation District. He is a Valley Electric Association ambassador.
Petell, who usually films meetings with a video camera, cited his experience attending about 98 percent of the meetings for the last six years, at many of which he registered his own opinions on a variety of issues. Petell said the process of filling out a form to comment at Nye County Commission meetings should be eliminated.
"I receive all the documents for every meeting in the town and the county. I attended the meetings that concerned the capital improvements plan, impact fees, I was a steering committee member for the master plan, I've been chairman of the public lands committee for about five years and on the Southern Nye County Conservation District for about two years," Petell said.
A native of Rome, N.Y., where he lived for 21 years, Petell said he then moved to Southern California in 1976, where he worked in the aerospace business in the South Bay section of Manhattan Beach for 15 years in project management and scheduling. Petell said he received a bachelor's degree in business administration from National University in San Diego and a master of arts in human behavior. He was also a counselor for the state of California workman's compensation program.
Petell said he was involved in real estate for over 20 years with his estranged wife. While in California he belonged to the Manhattan Beach Lions Club for more than three years and the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Watch for more than two years.
Petell said he's tired of the bickering between northern and southern Nye County.
"We need a change between the north and south. We have to work together for the public health, safety and welfare and the economic development of Nye County as a whole," Petell said.
Petell was one of three people to sign a notice of intent to recall Nye County Commission Chairman Gary Hollis in late 2006, after his vote approving a development agreement with the Focus Property Group. But after the period expired to collect signatures, none was turned in.
Petell has been actively protesting the proposed no-shooting area across more than 11,000 acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management property in the southern end of Pahrump Valley. At Gov. Jim Gibbons' inauguration dinner in Las Vegas earlier this year, he handed the governor a request to repair fencing along Roadrunner Road to prevent wild burros from escaping onto the highway.
Petell said he'll campaign hard in the other parts of his district outside of Pahrump. He took part in the annual Jim Butler Days Parade in Tonopah over Memorial Day weekend.
"Whatever means I need to get up there -- airplane, RV, my vehicle, whatever it takes -- I'll be a traveling commissioner to make sure things happen," Petell said.
Though he's often had testy exchanges with county commissioners from a seat in the audience, Petell said he would get along better with commissioners when seated at the same table.
"There will be no confrontation with the sitting commissioners, as far as I'm concerned, because I'm going in as a county commissioner, not a resident, which will be a different level of cooperation," he said. "It will be a level of professionalism and public service coordination with the sitting commissioners, period. There will be no conflict or confrontation, it will all be operated in a professional, business way.
"I'm not a citizen any more; if I'm elected, I'm a commissioner. As a citizen I have to pull teeth to get information," he said.