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Reno City Council to appoint the Ward 3 representative after arguments over democracy

A long podium with Reno City Council members and the City Manager sitting behind it.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus (from left), member Kathleen Taylor, Reno City Manager Doug Thornley, Mayor Hillary Schieve, at-large member Devon Reese, member Naomi Duerr, and member Bonnie Weber at a meeting at Reno City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Reno City Council will appoint the next representative for Ward 3 in East Reno. The seat is vacant following the resignation of Oscar Delgado.

The council had two options: either move forward with a special election or an appointment process for the sake of time. They faced the same choice last month following another member’s departure – and came to an identical conclusion.

Councilmember Jenny Brekhus, who is usually an outlier when the council votes, was the only one in opposition.

“I’m at the point where I’m thinking that there’s going to be no perfect time for people who are so dug into appointments to want to vote for elections, and that’s fine,” Brekhus said. “You can still believe in the elections, but just not in this instance, and want the power of appointment. But I think it’s really wrong, and I think it’s disenfranchising.”

Council members argued about what decision would be more democratic. At-large member Devon Reese, who was appointed in 2019, said other positions have been filled this way, like Nevada’s current lieutenant governor.

“The idea that somehow it’s less democratic, I think, is anathema to me. It’s one of the processes and policies of democracies to fill vacancies in a certain way,” Reese said. “It’s not to say that we cannot do something different, but that it’s anti-democratic, I bristle at that thought.”

During Thursday’s meeting, the interim Registrar of Voters for Washoe County said it would be too confusing to hold a special election during the midterms, so it couldn’t take place until late March. Several council members also argued that winter isn’t a good time to campaign.

Applications for the job are open to Ward 3 residents through Thursday, Oct. 6.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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