Mesquite Gaming's director of golf trying to make a difference in politics
September 13, 2016 3:01 AM
by Dave Dye
Less than two months ago, Mesquite Gaming announced that Brian Wursten would be its new director of golf, and run both the Palms and CasaBlanca courses in Mesquite, located about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah and Arizona borders.
In another two months, Wursten could take on an additional role. He’s running for one of three openings on the Mesquite City Council.
Wursten, fascinated by the city’s development during his 23 years as a resident, decided it was time to put up or shut up. He’s been frustrated at times by the actions of some board members, whom he felt were “not doing what’s best for the people.”
Someone told him he either needs to “run or stop complaining.”
“So I ran,” said Wursten, who was offered a spot a couple years ago on the staff of Republican congressman Cresent Hardy, a friend of his who also is from Mesquite, generally known for being a strong Democratic region.
“He felt like I have the mind for politics,” Wursten said. “That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?”
Wursten turned down the offer, which would have meant relocating to Washington D.C. for the initial two-year term with Hardy, who is up for reelection in November.
Wursten decided to stay where he’s most comfortable – right in Mesquite, where he and his wife raised their four children.
“I’m just going to be a fresh voice,” he said of his campaign strategy. “I’ve always really liked politics, studied it quite a bit. I call myself independent, but I am Republican.”
Wursten indicated he has no further political ambitions beyond running for council.
“I just want to make the city better,” he said. “There are so many good things going on in Mesquite. I want to add to it. I think there’s a lot that can be done.”
Wursten, 54, actually thought he had clinched a spot on the council during a primary earlier this summer based on the 50-percent-plus-one requirement. He received the most votes of the seven candidates on the ballot.
However, the council made a controversial move by deciding after the fact that the terminology used five years ago in writing the election code was flawed. The issue came down to the use of “majority of votes” as opposed to “majority of voters.”
As a result, the council determined a week later that Wursten and another candidate had not received the necessary number of votes after all, based on the revised statute.
Wursten seemingly has a strong case for a lawsuit, but chose not to pursue it.
“That kind of goes contrary to what I’m trying to do,” he said. “We’ve got a great city attorney. I didn’t think his time would be well used there.
“I still feel pretty comfortable (about November’s election, which includes five other candidates). I feel like I can still get the votes needed. If things change then it wasn’t meant to be.”
Anthony Toti, the CEO for Mesquite Gaming, has assured Wursten he’ll be given the schedule flexibility to handle the city-council duties.
For now, Wursten is enjoying being in charge again at a Palms course where he got his start in the golf industry in 1992.
“It’s fun to come back to it,” he said. “I love the course.”
The Palms features some picturesque settings of the nearby mountains, desert and Virgin River, including the 15th hole, a par-5 with a 114-foot drop from tee box to fairway.
As a friend of Wursten’s once put it, “You may get this look in Arizona, you may get this look in Utah, you may get this look in Florida, but you don’t get it all in one place like you do in Mesquite.”
Wursten has watched the population grow from just over 2,000 when he first arrived in the early ‘90s to as much as around 18,000.
Many of the residents have come to retire, some are considered snowbirds. Others from Utah, Arizona and California have identified this Nevada community, away from the hustle of Las Vegas, as an ideal place to settle and avoid paying the state taxes levied back home.
“It’s a great community to be involved in,” said Wursten, who’s also known for singing the national anthem at various special events in Mesquite, along with his lead roles in musicals at the community theater. “Anybody who hasn’t been here needs to come.”