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Politics and Policy

Breaking down preliminary results for Reno mayor, city council, Washoe Co. commission and school board

A photo taken of the back of an election volunteer. He’s wearing a red vest with blue letters that read, “Election Staff.” In the background is a banner on the outside of a building that reads “Carson City Polling Location Enter Here.”
Shelby Herbert
/
KUNR Public Radio

Preliminary results for Washoe County for the 2022 Primary Election have been slow to trickle in. KUNR news director Michelle Billman sat down with reporter Lucia Starbuck to break down some city, county and school board race outcomes so far, though these results remain unofficial until they’re certified, which is scheduled for later this week.

Michelle Billman: Let’s start with the race for Reno mayor.

Lucia Starbuck: So out of the 11 candidates, the top two will advance to the general election. Incumbent Mayor Hillary Schieve has received the most votes. She was initially elected to Reno City Council in 2012 and then mayor since 2014. She prides herself on the revitalization of downtown, though critics say she prioritizes developers over community members. Following Schieve is businessman Eddie Lorton, a vocal critic of city council. This is his third time running for mayor, and this race is much closer than 2018. Reno City Council member Jenny Brekhus of Ward 1 has conceded.

Billman: What about the two seats that are up for grabs on Reno City Council? What can you tell us about those?

Starbuck: Two out of three candidates will move on in the city council races as well. It looks like both of those incumbents will be heading to the general election. There’s Ward 2, which represents most of South Reno. Incumbent Naomi Duerr, who has served two terms since 2014, will move on. She leans on her past experience as a state water planner. Following Duerr is first-time candidate Jay Kenny. He’s the owner of DoughBoys Donuts.

Billman: And looking at Ward 4, which mostly covers the North Valleys area, what’s going on in that race?

Starbuck: Incumbent Bonnie Weber has the most votes for Ward 4. She was elected in 2018 and has served as a Washoe County Commissioner for over a decade. Weber said she’s a watchdog of public monies and wants to preserve public lands. Initially, the gap was pretty small between the two runner-ups, but now it looks like first-time candidate Meghan Ebert will head to the general election, too. She wants to see dining, shopping and parks keep up with growth in the North Valleys areas.

Billman: There’s also an election this year for Sparks mayor and two city council spots, but those races did not end up on the ballot for the primary election. Can you break down why?

Starbuck: That’s because of a 2021 Nevada law that states in the City of Sparks, if there are only two candidates running for open mayor or city council seats, they will automatically advance to the election in November, so as you mentioned, Michelle, those names did not appear on the ballot. Candidates for Sparks mayor and city council in Ward 2 and 4 will all move on.

Billman: Let’s zoom out a bit to focus on the three Washoe County Commissioner races. Some of the biggest issues these candidates are contending with include the explosive growth that the region has experienced and the strain that’s put on infrastructure, emergency services and the environment. Now not all of the incumbents for the Washoe County Commission are poised to move on to the general election. Let’s start with District 2, which is in South Reno. Tell me what’s going on there.

Starbuck: Unlike city council and mayor, these are partisan races. That means there were major party elections for the primary for Republican and Democratic candidates. Washoe County Assessor Michael ‘Mike’ Clark has a sizable lead over District 2 incumbent Bob Lucey — both Republicans. Clark has been physically banned from all county offices for over a year. That’s after he anonymously mass-mailed documents, which included a photo of a female county official in a bathing suit. Clark has also echoed conspiracies about election integrity and has ties to Robert Beadles, a far-right political activist, according to The Nevada Independent. A Democrat [Keith Lockard] and Libertarian [David Michael Banuelos] have filed to run for this seat as well.

Billman: Moving on to District 5, which covers a large swath of Northwest Washoe County, all the way from Palomino Valley and Cold Springs down to Somersett. What’s happening there, Lucia?

Starbuck: So for District 5, it looks like Incumbent Jeanne Herman will head to the general election. A Democrat [Edwin Lyngar] and nonpartisan [Krysta Jackson] candidate have also filed to run. Herman made headlines earlier this year after putting forth controversial election reform proposals. Those called for returning to paper ballots, counting ballots by hand and placing sheriff deputies at polling locations. The measure failed by a 4-to-1 vote.

Billman: What about District 3, which covers Sun Valley and kind of straddles the border area between Reno and Sparks?

Starbuck: In District 3, there were three Democrats running. Mariluz Garcia is ahead of her two opponents [Hawah Ahmad and Kyle Isacksen]. Garcia runs a UNR program that helps low-income and first-generation students graduate high school. If elected, she’ll be on the ballot alongside a Republican [Denise Myer] in November.

Billman: So there are four open seats on Washoe County School Board and a number of incumbents are involved in these races. Can you break down what we know at this point?

Starbuck: So there are four races and one incumbent is likely to get re-elected automatically. That’s because in some nonpartisan races, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they will not appear on the ballot in November and are declared elected, according to Nevada law. That appears to be the case for Incumbent Beth Smith in District D, which represents a large chunk of Southwest Reno. Smith was appointed to the school board last July. She is the Global Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at IGT. As a reminder, these are unofficial results.

For at-large District F, incumbent Adam Mayberry almost got more than half the votes. He was appointed in November. He’s the Public Information Officer for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. He’ll likely face off with Graeme Reid. Reid, along with several other school board candidates, is listed on a website called Save WCSD. Even though these are nonpartisan races, the group’s website discusses a number of politically charged issues, saying this group of candidates is against critical race theory and COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

Billman: And there are two additional races for Washoe County School Board. And it seems likely that the other two incumbents will appear on the ballot for the general election. Is that right?

Starbuck: Yes, based on preliminary results, that’s the case over in District B, which represents most of Sparks and Sun Valley. It was a very close race amongst the three candidates. Incumbent Ellen Minetto, a retired teacher with the school district, will move on, along with Colleen Westlake. She works for an orthodontist in Reno. Westlake is also a part of Save WCSD.

In District C, which represents Spanish Springs, Lemmon Valley and Stead, the incumbent Joe Rodriguez and Melanie Sutton appear poised to face off in November. Sutton is also part of the group I just mentioned. She owns and runs a traveling petting zoo. Rodriguez, who was appointed last July as well, works for the Nevada State Police in the State Fire Marshal Division.

Billman: Thanks for breaking down these races, Lucia. Now, I also want to talk about why the preliminary results have been trickling in for about a week now. What’s been transpiring?

Starbuck: I reached out to election officials with Washoe County [on Monday]. They tell me the expectation that results will be available the night of an election is no longer realistic now that mail-in ballots are sent to every registered voter. Those mail-in ballots must be postmarked by election day and are received up to four days after the election, plus two additional days to finish curing ballots, which is the verification process if a signature on a ballot doesn’t match the one on file. After the machines undergo logistics and accuracy testing, the results will be presented at a public Washoe County Commissioners meeting on Friday. And the commissioners are scheduled to accept the canvass of the vote to certify the results.

Billman: Thanks so much for breaking down these results. They remain unofficial, but they give us a good sense of what’s happening.

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