Elections 2022: Looking at Reno's crowded mayoral race and two open council seats
Looking at city government in Reno, there are two city council seats up for grabs this election. There's also a crowded field for mayor and questions have been raised about how term limits could come into play for that race. To break this all down, KUNR’s Michelle Billman spoke with Tabitha Mueller, a reporter for The Nevada Independent.
Billman: Alright, Tabitha, thanks for being here.
Mueller: Thanks for having me.
Billman: And, so, before we dig into the race for the mayor of Reno, can you go over what duties are within that person's purview?
Mueller: So, the Reno City Council is made up of seven elected people, and those are the council members who make policy decisions for the city government, including setting priorities for the city, kind of, approving the budget and other issues facing the community. Reno's mayor is interesting because the mayor serves as a spokesperson for the city and basically acts as another council member. He or she can vote on the council, but they don't represent a specific geographic ward.
Billman: And that position is nonpartisan. What does that mean for a primary?
Mueller: So, nonpartisan races are fascinating. The June 14 primary election is almost more pivotal in these nonpartisan races because candidates who win more than 50% of the vote are automatically elected to office without having to run in the general election. So, if you have a candidate that wins 51% of the vote, 52% or more, they hold that office automatically.
Billman: That's a lot getting decided very soon from now, actually.
Billman: And there's a somewhat crowded field for the mayor. Can you break down who the front runners are, and if there have been any surprises yet?
Mueller: Yes, this is an incredibly crowded race. You have Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, who's defending her seat for the third and final time against ten other contenders, including sitting councilwoman Jenny Brekhus, perennial candidate Eddie Lorton and, kind of, a surprise move [by] Imbibe brewery owner and co-founder Matthew Johnson. The race features a lot of candidates who ran for the seat in 2014 and 2018. And I think it's actually going to be one of the most competitive local government races this election cycle.
Billman: And the Reno Gazette-Journal recently reported that candidate Eddie Lorton is considering filing a lawsuit related to the term limits for Hillary Schieve and Jenny Brekhus. What do we know about this issue?
Mueller: So, to start off, what we need to understand is that the way the council is set up is that the mayor's term is included in the maximum terms that you could serve as a council person. So the maximum [number of] terms you can serve as a council person is three terms. A term lasts four years, so you can serve on the council for 12 years, regardless of whether you serve as the mayor or at large or for Ward 1 or 2, or whatnot. Mayor Hillary Schieve had served a partial term as a councilwoman before she assumed office as mayor. Since that time period, she's now served two complete terms, in addition to that partial term as a councilwoman. He's asking, essentially: Can she run for a third term if she already has two and a half terms under her belt?
Billman: So, we're gonna have to wait and see on that. Switching gears to the two city council seats that are open this election. One of them is Ward 2 in South Reno. We have incumbents running for both of the open council seats. Can you break down who's running in Ward 2?
Mueller: In Ward 2, you have incumbent Councilwoman Naomi Dewar who is running for her third and final term on council. She's a geologist and has served as the Nevada state water planner, director of the Truckee River Flood Management Program and on the board of UNR’s Mackay School of Mines. She was first elected in 2014, and her main challenger is Jay Kenny, who owns Doughboys donut shops in Reno and Sparks.
There's also a third candidate, Tyler Hinman, but we don't really know too much about him because there's not a lot of information that he's put out yet about his campaign. This election could get really interesting because Kenny is backed by a lot of prominent Reno families, and I think he's sort of seen as a very serious contender for this seat.
Billman: And looking now at Ward 4, which covers a lot of the North Valleys area, who's running for that seat?
Mueller: Councilwoman Bonnie Weber is the incumbent in this seat, and she's facing two main challenges. And those two main challenges, one is coming from Meghan Ebert and the other from Dennis Owen. Neither of them have campaign websites yet, and so, right now it kind of looks like Weber may maintain her seat and has sort of a leading advantage, especially because she has the name recognition as the incumbent in this race.
Billman: All right, we're gonna have to leave it there. Tabitha, thanks so much for your time.
Mueller: Thank you.
Tabitha Mueller is a reporter for The Nevada Independent.
As an update to this story, multiple media outlets, including KRNV, are reporting that another mayoral candidate William Mantel has filed a legal challenge against Jenny Brekhus regarding how term limits apply to her council service.