Running for Reno mayor: Marsha Berkbigler
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Among the 20 candidates, Marsha Berkbigler is a name that's probably more familiar. She's currently Washoe County Commissioner, representing portions of southwest Truckee Meadows and Tahoe. While she enjoys her post, she could not pass up the opportunity to run.
"We need somebody who has big business experience," she says, "small business experience, economic development experience and [experience with] major budgets and running big meetings, and those kinds of things."
Berkbigler says she could also help mend fences between the City and the County, a relationship that has been strained in some areas. She already works closely with the City on regional issues like fire and senior services, tourism and the IBM project to improve economic development in Reno.
"We don't need to be as divisive as we, perhaps, have been in the past," Berkbigler explains.
Besides managing the budget, she says revitalizing downtown and continuing the effort to rebrand Reno would be her major priorities as mayor.
Berkbigler has spent a lot of time around government. She has set up and run a congressman's office in the state, and she has lobbied for the mining industry and other businesses. She anticipates her opponents will spin the term 'lobbyist' in a negative way, but she cites her work on establishing smoking laws in the '80s as an example of what she has accomplished:
"That's my claim to fame in the state of Nevada. I was the original non-smoking lobbyist.
If she were elected, Berkbigler would leave a vacant seat on the county commission about halfway through her term. This has happened before, most recently when Kitty Jung replaced Pete Sferrazza in 2007. The Governor is then responsible for appointing a replacement from the same party, which, in the case of Berkbigler, would be a Republican. Of course, the Reno mayor's race is non-partisan.
She has lived in the valley for more than 50 years and has 7 children and 14 grandchildren.