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Learn more about what the candidates running for nine races in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County have to say about environmental issues.

2022 Elections: Reno City Council Ward 2 Candidate Surveys on the Environment

Illustration with a KUNR logo and text that says, “Candidate Surveys on the Environment. Reno City Council, Ward 2.” There is an implied surface with a pencil, a roll of stickers and a ballot box placed on top of it.
Crystal Willis
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KUNR Public Radio

Earlier this year, KUNR Public Radio launched a survey asking community members to share topics or issues they would like to hear about from candidates running in Nevada’s 2022 elections. Many community members voiced concern about climate change and wanted to know how their local politicians would respond to environmental issues. With additional environmental questions collected from a group of University of Nevada, Reno students majoring in a variety of fields, KUNR created a questionnaire for candidates running for nine races in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.

This election cycle, there are two candidates running for the Reno City Council seat in Ward 2. Municipal races in Nevada are nonpartisan:

  • Naomi Duerr (Incumbent)
  • Jay Kenny

Editor’s notes: Candidates have been listed in alphabetical order by last name. We have provided candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, and each answer had a limit of 1,000 characters, with the exception of a yes or no question. Responses have not been edited for spelling, punctuation or grammar. Candidates’ answers have been fact-checked, and editor’s notes have been provided as needed. Editor’s notes were also added to provide additional context.

Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire after being reached out to multiple times; however, we will post their responses if they become available. Candidates were also asked to submit a headshot, and these photos were included upon availability.


Naomi Duerr

Naomi Duerr is looking toward the camera and smiling.
Courtesy of Naomi Duerr
/
Naomi Duerr, an incumbent seeking re-election for Reno City Council Ward 2.

When our region experiences poor air quality from wildfire smoke and high temperatures, how would you assist our community’s more vulnerable populations, including unsheltered individuals and outdoor workers? (We would like to hear your local mitigation ideas.)

The key elements for heat and air quality protection for ALL residents are provision of outdoor shade and air-conditioned, indoor shelter.

The Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno Events Center and schools have all been used for emergency shelter. I would take this further and proactively designate additional shelter locations for heat and smoke protection.

Outdoor workers pose special challenges. I would consider expanding the City of Reno’s new policy (9/22) to protect employees who work outdoors to ALL employers: At AQI 150, provide N-95 masks; at AQI 300+, no outdoor work shall be performed unless it is deemed essential or an emergency response.

Finally, trees provide shade, reduce overall urban heat gain and absorb pollutants and toxins from smoke. I would expand the city’s ReLEAF Reno program to increase our trees, and minimize local fire risk by expanding programs to reduce fuel loads and promote defensible space.

Editor’s notes: Both the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and the Reno Events Center have been utilized as public shelters in emergency situations, such as hazardous smoke days and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a spokesperson for the City of Reno, the policy Duerr is referring to with the date 9/22 is the City of Reno Policy 602 related to air quality.

According to research by the U.S. Forest Service, trees remove air pollution when plant surfaces intercept particulate matter. Trees also absorb gaseous pollutants through their leaves. However, the magnitude and value of the effects of trees and forests on air quality and human health across the United States remains unknown.

ReLEAF Reno is a program sponsored by the City of Reno designed to preserve and expand Reno’s urban forest and combat heat.

How will you help ensure that we have enough drinking water for the increasing population of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County? And more broadly, what would you do to improve water management and sustainability in our region?

I was the former Nevada State Water Planner and served as the Executive Director of the Truckee River Flood Project. I now serve on the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the Western Regional Water Commission, and the Flood Authority. My professional focus has been water management.

Water management has two basic sides: conserving what we have and increasing the supply.

Conservation: Each person in Reno uses about 110 gallons per capita per day as compared to about 150 gpd nationally. Our conservation savings are due to the use of water meters and conservation messaging. We also store much water upstream in reservoirs for use during drought, increasing our resiliency.

Supply: About 80% of our water comes from the Truckee River (via snowpack runoff) with 20% from groundwater. My proposals are to increase the use of reclaimed water for irrigation, turn reclaimed water into drinking water, and store more surface water underground where it doesn’t evaporate as readily.

Editor’s notes: For clarity, Duerr referred to her role with the Truckee River Flood Management Authority. In an email to KUNR, Duerr stated that she obtained the statistic that people in Reno use, on average, 110 gallons per capita per day from Truckee Meadows Water Authority staff and that number refers to both inside and outside water use combined. Duerr also stated that the statistic that people, on average, use 150 gallons per capita per day nationally (inside and outside water use together) comes from historic trends seen by the American Water Works Association.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority states that substantial drought reserves are stored in six upstream reservoirs. The City of Reno website states that the Truckee River delivers “80% of all drinking water to residents in the Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County areas.”

Do you believe that human-caused climate change is real? (Yes or no response only.)

Yes

What other environmental issues would you like to address for your constituency, and how?

Want to expand the following:

Climate Change: Trees are the most cost-effective measure we can take to combat urban heat. In 2016, I started a program called ReLEAF Reno to educate residents about the value of trees and increase the trees in the city. In the last five years, we have planted about 1000 trees. We are now using heat-mapping and socio-economic data to prioritize sites, and have started a tree give-away program.

Desert Lands: I have championed haz-waste, e-waste and green waste disposal programs, all now being adopted city-wide.

Renewable Energy: I advocated for the use of geothermal and solar energy at the Moana Pool, sponsored the 1st community solar project in Reno, and promote electric car charging stations.

Plants & Animals: I support wildlife preserves, helped ban puppy mills, advocate for bees, and work on management of wild horses.

Pesticides: Started first 12 pesticide free parks.

Water Quality: Support formation of a city stormwater utility.

Editor’s notes: According to an Environmental Protection Agency study, trees and vegetation are tools effective at lowering surface and air temperatures. However, we were unable to verify that planting trees is the most cost-effective way to combat urban heat. The study states that although the benefits of urban forestry can vary considerably by community and tree species, those benefits are almost always higher than the costs.

Duerr launched the ReLEAF Reno program in 2016. Over the last five years, staff planted 150 trees on average in Reno’s parks and open spaces. In total, the City of Reno has added nearly 1,750 trees to the community. As a member of the Reno City Council, Duerr helped draft 2020 legislation that would ban the commercial sale of dogs and cats in Reno. In 2021, Duerr supported the installation of solar panels on the parking areas at Moana Pool, as well as the exploration of the potential use of the location’s geothermal energy. Later that year, Duerr worked with HERO Environmental Services to offer residents free hazardous household waste, green waste, and electronic waste disposal.

A spokesperson for the City of Reno says that, since the inception of the Arbor Day subsidized tree program in 2019, the City of Reno distributed 982 trees to Reno residents. Though this initiative is called a “giveaway program,” there is still a small charge to residents to ensure they have some level of investment in the success of the tree.

Learn more about Naomi Duerr at votenaomi.com.


Jay Kenny

KUNR reached out to this candidate several times, and they acknowledged the questionnaire over the phone but did not submit responses. We will update this web post with the candidate’s questionnaire responses if they become available.


Click here to view candidate surveys for other Reno races, as well as city council and mayor in Sparks and commissioner in Washoe County.