2022 Elections: Reno Mayoral Candidate Surveys on the Environment
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 in Reno’s mayoral race. Municipal races in Nevada are nonpartisan:
- George “Eddie” Lorton
- Hillary Schieve (Incumbent)
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.
George “Eddie” Lorton
KUNR reached out to this candidate by email, voicemail, and social media several times; however, we did not receive a response. We will update this web post with the candidate’s questionnaire responses if they become available.
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.)
I’m glad that we got the Cares Campus up and running to better serve unsheltered individuals, both generally and for this reason as well. I think we need to look at things like free-ride RTC days, and spaces that we can have “on hold” for rent or use in these situations. That’s why I spearheaded the use of the Reno/Sparks Convention Center for our community and outlying areas to use to escape the smoke - whether that was sports for our youth, and evacuation center for South Lake Tahoe during the fires, or seniors. We will continue to keep that space open for when we need it. For outdoor workers, that is something I worry a lot about and not one that has an easy answer. People need to work to feed their families, but we shouldn’t force people to work in unsafe conditions. I think we need to work with industries and companies to find the right solutions for the diverse nature of needs of all kinds of different outdoor workers, as no “one size fits all” approach is likely to work.
According to a spokesperson for Washoe County, during extreme weather events, the Nevada CARES Campus functions as an indoor gathering place used as a warming center in the winter and cooling center in the summer. The facility’s air filters also make it a safe place with clean air throughout the region’s fire seasons. While bed space at the facility is often near capacity, there is always room in the warming and cooling areas, as well as a day-use area for individuals who need to escape the smoke and extreme heat. The spokesperson also confirmed that 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.
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?
First and foremost, we need to protect our river. That is a huge focus of mine. I’m proud to have brought on a River Ranger Team, and to have received support from Harvard and Bloomberg with a working group to help keep our river safe and clean. I will continue working with regional partners to help in this endeavor. Second, we need better water treatment, which we are working on with regional partners. Third, we need more infrastructure for “purple pipe” to use reclaimed water for any non-drinking water purposes. We need to encourage and also have development codes that limit unnecessary water usage and encourage transitioning from lawns to less water-intensive landscaping. I’m proud of my record of pushing for all of these things as Mayor, and of the support and endorsement I've received from environmental and other groups who share the same goal.
Editor’s notes: According to a spokesperson with the City of Reno, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve was selected to participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in 2019. Throughout this program, Schieve participated in a year-long education and professional development program designed exclusively for mayors and city leaders and was taught by Harvard faculty and renowned management experts. The program included an “innovation track” in which the City of Reno focused on the Truckee River.
A “purple pipe system” utilizes reclaimed or non-potable water from homes and businesses. Reclaimed water systems are always denoted by a pipe that is a light purple color to clearly differentiate it from potable water.
Do you believe that human-caused climate change is real? (Yes or no response only.)
What other environmental issues would you like to address for your constituency, and how?
We need more cycling, public transportation and walkable neighborhoods, to cut down on single vehicle traffic. I’m a huge proponent of more bike lanes, and have been steadily increasing them. (This also has helped connect UNR with Downtown). We need to focus on developing in the core and/or on land that has already been disturbed. I’m proud to be a mayor that has signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. I’m also proud of the work we’ve done to create the Reno Resilience, Biggest LIttle Sustainable City program. This has been a priority for us. I hope you’ll read more on the City’s website about this sustainability project and the measures we’ve taken on green building, wildfire mitigation, reducing our carbon footprint, and so much more.
Editor’s notes: According to a spokesperson referencing the City of Reno’s Public Works Director/City Engineer, there have been approximately 40 miles of bike lanes added to Reno roads since Mayor Hillary Schieve assumed office in 2014. These expansions primarily took place on regional roads. The RTC website shows the connectivity of existing and some proposed bike facilities.
Learn more about Hillary Schieve at hillaryforreno.com.