Meet the Candidates: Kyle Blades

Ridgecrest City Council

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Meet the Candidates: Kyle BladesKyle Blades was appointed to the City Council several months ago, and reported a palpable tension in council chambers. “You could read it in the room. Feel it in the air.”

After his brief time on council, which was preceded by a stint on the city’s Planning Commission, he said that he felt that public meetings seemed to often run without adequate decorum.

“I think we need someone who can step back, be level-headed, and show a little poise. I don’t mean to suggest that it is completely lacking, but we definitely need to be a little more reasonable, more diplomatic, during public discussions. That is why I applied last year, and that’s why I’m running now.”

Having now sat on the other side of the dais, hearing the closed-session briefings and ongoing staff reports, he said that he has a better understanding of the volume of information that council members have to sort through. Still, he said, it is important to maintain an appropriate level of transparency in operations.

“I remember how frustrating it was to watch what happened on council and feel like things were not being explained well to the public.”

When he was first appointed, he tried to schedule regular time with city staff and members of the public. “And then, COVID hit,” he joked. “But I do think we can do better.”

Blades was born and raised here by a family who was deeply invested in their community, “although mostly behind-the-scenes.” Other than a five-and-a-half year stint in the military, he has lived, worked and is now raising his family here.

“I think that everyone at some point should undertake some level of civic service,” he said. “During my time on the council, being appointed instead of elected, I didn’t have as strong a sense of … placement, maybe? I am running now in hopes that the public will choose me to continue representing them.”

Because the city operates on a tight budget, including extremely limited tax revenues, he said he wants to look at options for increasing the general fund. “Ridgecrest, as always, must invest in itself. There are creative ways to push around different funds, but that is only taking money from one area to give to the next.”

He said that he would like to improve the parks and other aspects of quality of life, but “we’ll have to make decisions like those as a community.”

Blades added that investing in technology, like 5G, would make our community more attractive to new and existing industries. The wide-open spaces could accommodate more desert races and outdoor activities that bring in visitors — and the associated dollars they spend here.

In his short time, he has publicly expressed caution on some of the controversial issues before the city — including the recently re-negotiated contract with the Timbisha Shoshone for an Indian gaming casino, and the city’s vote on the proposed replenishment fee.

“My reasons for voting against the casino were primarily concerned with public involvement,” he said. He wanted citizens to vote, given the potentially huge impact. “This is not just a paperclip factory … there were both positive and negative aspects to it.”

He said he wanted to see the city perform due diligence in researching and reporting on impacts. “I was less than pleased with how it was all done, and that isn’t meant to say anything against the tribe.”

Although the replenishment fee has now been passed, “now we look forward. We anchor down as a community and delve into the data and the facts. We have to urge the IWV Groundwater Authority to continue to expand on the general points of scientific study already contained within the Groundwater Sustainability Plan.”

Blades said that he has heard complaints that the city is not business-friendly enough. He suggested that this, too, may be addressed through better communication. “I think we need to hear exactly what the concerns from our businesses and developers are.” The city also needs to be clear about articulating their message to the folks who are interested in building here, he said.

“My vision for Ridgecrest is optimistic,” he said. “If we can get the issues out to people in a way that they can understand, it will be easier for us to move forward on the issues together.”

Story First Published: 2020-10-02