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Town Council candidate Deb Pierrel this past week said her campaign is stronger than ever, despite a public kerfuffle involving her business debts.
“I don’t believe it hurt my campaign,” she said of her business struggles as head of Cle Hospitality, a hotel concern in both Nevada and California.
“If somebody’s going to look at a small component like that, well, it is what it is.”
The issues involve her company being on the hook for back taxes in both Douglas County, Nevada, and in South Lake Tahoe.
“On my campaign website, before the one that’s there now, it said I have struggled in business for three years, so short of printing my financials, I’ve been very open, and I shouldn’t print financials, for their sake (debtors) and ours.
“I just hope it isn’t a big deal. Everybody’s had struggles financially. Mammoth Mountain had to give property back to the bank, and I’m in a building now that was foreclosed on by a prominent businessperson in this town.”
Pierrel, in an interview, did not say which Mammoth Mountain property to which she referred, and did not name the “prominent business person.”
“I just chose to stick it out and do what’s right.”
The issue emerged last Tuesday afternoon, May 13, when local media, including the Mammoth Times, received a blind email from a person identified in the email as email@example.com.
The email directed reporters to contact Douglas County and El Dorado County, California for public records relating to Cle Hospitality.
Neither county could confirm the charges until after the Times passed its deadline on Wednesday, May 14.
However, both Pierrel and her partner at Cle Hospitality, Katy Donahue, acknowledged in emails and interviews that the company had a rough three years since its startup.
“We have been plagued with record setting droughts our first three years in business,” Donahue wrote in an email.
“I assure you that you cannot find another hotel in Mammoth, Tahoe or Gardnerville who did not feel the impact of these droughts, and we had to endure them as a startup.
“We have struggled and it hasn’t been pretty, we do still have delinquent debt on our books, but we readjusted our business plans, communicated with our vendor early and consistently and are addressing and resolving it.
“Disasters are going to happen in life and in business. We watched dozens of hotels and other businesses close during this time, hurting vendors, lenders and the community; there were times when we considered it, too.
“It is easy to walk away, it takes ethics and strength of character to address these regrettable situations, create and honor a plan and resolve them.
“Instead of walking away, we chose to work harder, to honor our debt and pay it off, to keep people employed and to be productive, valuable community members.”
Pierrel followed that email with another email to whom she called “friends and supporters” addressing the issue with largely the same message.
In an interview on Monday, May 19, she said she felt that her campaign actually got a positive jolt from the issue.
“I’ve heard from so many friends and supporters,” she said, “so no, I don’t think my campaign is hurt.
“I feel that my overt communication about these issues, to the people who need to know about them, and the fact that we’re doing better this year than last year, are strides toward showing it’s more important how you handle it to get through it.”
Pierrel is one of eight candidates seeking three open council seats in the June 3 election.