Lila Heuer, Supervisorial Candidate for Sierra County’s Second District, Answers Questions

By Duncan A. Kennedy

BASSETTS – Recently, The Mountain Messenger was able to interview candidate Lila Heuer over a cup of coffee at Bassetts Station. Heuer, a Sierra City resident, is one of two candidates running to replace Peter Huebner as Sierra County’s District Two Supervisor, a position Huebner has held since 1998.

The following is a synopsis of her answers to questions posed during the interview.

What’s your life story?

Heuer is 75 years old and a 35-year resident of Sierra City. She has been “widowed” twice – once in 2007 when her husband, Mike, Sierra City’s fire chief at the time, had a fatal heart attack during a rescue operation, and again in 2020 when her boyfriend of many years died. She is a longtime active member of the community in Sierra City, having involved herself in various nonprofits since moving here – most notably as president of the original Sierra County Chamber of Commerce.

Until recently, she operated the My Sister’s Cottage motel in Sierra City; it is now owned and operated by one of her adult granddaughters.

Why are you running for County Supervisor after all this time?

Through her time in various nonprofits, including the local Chamber of Commerce, Heuer has been in direct and indirect contact with the Board of Supervisors over the last three and a half decades. During this time, she formed a good working relationship with Supervisor Huebner to the point where he tried recruiting her as a successor twice.

The first time, shortly after her husband had died, she refused; the second time, shortly after her boyfriend’s death, she again declined the proposal made by Huebner. However, soon thereafter, passengers on the senior citizens’ bus she drives convinced her otherwise and, with further encouragement from one of her granddaughters, she pulled the trigger.

What do you think the most significant issues Sierra County faces are?

Heuer cites the economic decline caused by the loss of the mining and timber industries as the driving factor behind her two most prominent issues – senior services and housing availability. As a senior citizen herself, Heuer notes the difficulty in accessing senior services in this county, such as health services and hospice care; she would work to expand and streamline the portion of the county budget devoted to this issue if elected.

Meanwhile, she is not convinced that temporary rentals are the leading cause of the housing crisis; instead, Heuer believes a tax break program needs implementation to convince landowners to rent to locals instead of tourists. Heuer also believes that the Planning Department is terrible at thinking ahead and needs to adopt a more proactive and less reactive mindset in planning.

What are your biggest priorities if elected?

“If you solve the economic issues, the others slowly start to line up,” says Heuer, stating her intention to try to make progress on restarting the county’s economy if elected. Heuer cites her credentials as a successful local small business owner and her experience as a leader of the original Chamber of Commerce as evidence that she can function in this capacity.

She also wants to pressure the Planning Department to change its aforementioned reactive planning mindset to a more proactive one and make more frequent updates to the General Plan.

How would you better represent Long Valley and Verdi on the Board of Supervisors?

Heuer has visited Verdi several times recently and learned through Board of Supervisors meetings about the immense impact Reno’s urban growth will have on these outlying areas of Sierra County. “They’ve got massive developments planned north to Red Rock and right up to the border with little thought for water supply or wildlife migration,” says Heuer.

Since it is an interstate commerce issue, the only way to temper this development is by working with agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Heuer has prior interactions with the latter via the Sierra City Fire Safe Council.

There are also fears that Verdi’s groundwater supply may be tapped soon by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) to meet Reno’s water demands, a battle which Heuer is willing to help Verdi citizens fight. She says the few residents in Sierra County’s portion of Long Valley are becoming interested in placing ranches in conservation easements. This would prevent the worst effects of Nevada’s suburban development from spilling over into their community, and she will help them with this problem if needed, too.

Would you participate in League of Women Voters-style candidate forums alongside your opponent, Sandy Sanders, in the future?

“Yes, I would,” says Heuer, adding that several Sierra County citizens are putting together such a forum at 7:00 PM on May 31st in the Sierra City Community Hall.

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