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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: Washoe County Commission District 2 Candidate Surveys on the Environment

Illustration with a KUNR logo and text that says, “Candidate Surveys on the Environment. Washoe County Commission District 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 three candidates running for the Washoe County Commission seat in District 2:

  • David Michael Banuelos (Libertarian)
  • Michael Clark (Republican)
  • Keith Lockard (Democrat)

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.


David Michael Banuelos (L)

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.


Michael Clark (R)

KUNR reached out to this candidate several times, and they acknowledged the questionnaire over the phone but did not submit responses. In a phone call with a KUNR reporter about the survey, Clark said he wasn’t sure how a Washoe County official could do anything about the environmental issues in the KUNR survey, especially when wildfires affecting our region are largely based in California. We will update this web post with the candidate’s questionnaire responses if they become available.


Keith Lockard (D)

Keith Lockard is looking toward the camera and smiling.
Courtesy of Keith Lockard
/
Keith Lockard, a candidate for Washoe County Commission District 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.)

I would consult with Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of possible actions that would assist those populations. Room air purifiers could be provided to low income residents. Temporary congregate shelters could be opened during severe poor air quality/high temperature conditions. Face masks effective against small particulates could be provided to unsheltered individuals and outdoor workers. The County Communications team should coordinate with District Health staff to provide public information regarding air quality information and recommended actions to reduce health risks.

Editor’s note: Research by the Colorado State University Department of Mechanical Engineering demonstrates N95 masks greatly reduce exposure to particles found in smoke, which can increase respiratory problems. A CDC summary of peer-reviewed literature demonstrates evidence that indoor air purification devices are an effective intervention tool for wildfire smoke pollutant exposure.

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?

The County Commission should meet with the TMWA Board and management staff on a periodic basis. TMWA should continue to explore the expanded use of recycled water. Washoe County should support the work of OneWater Nevada in their development of programs for advanced purified water for aquifer storage. Washoe County should support state law changes relative to conservation and conjunctive use. Washoe County should review the County Development Code requirements relative to landscaping requirements and their water use impacts.

Editor’s note: You can view the members of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board of Directors, which includes Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Alexis Hill. You can learn more about OneWater Nevada here. You can view the Washoe County Development Code here.

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?

I am particularly concerned about global climate change, with the particular local impact of the increased threat of wildfires. The most serious regional hazard facing Washoe County is that of wildland fires. The Truckee Meadows Fire and Rescue agency responded to 166 wildfires in 2020. A recent study by Climate Central found that of 242 locations studied in the U.S. that spring (March-May) temperatures increased faster in Reno than any other location (+6.8 degrees F) over the past 52 years. The 2022-2023 Washoe County budget includes a new position of sustainability manager who will be tasked with creating and implementing a sustainability and climate action plan. I will "champion" that effort.

Editor’s notes: You can view the Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue 2021 Community Report with statistics for 2020 here. You can also read the Climate Central study referred to by Keith Lockard here. For more information on elevated wildfire threats across the West, see Climate Central’s bulletin on the increasing number of annual fire weather days.

According to a spokesperson for Washoe County, the Washoe County Green Team has initiated several programs and plans to improve the region’s sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. The spokesperson also says the new sustainability manager position for Washoe County will also coordinate the county’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Learn more about Keith Lockard at Votekeithlockard.com.


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