Much of the Reno City Council is up for reelection this fall, and multiple incumbents will have to make it past the June primary in order to be on the ballot in November. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano spoke to Bob Conrad with This Is Reno to break down those races.
Serrano: Bob, there are few prominent names up for reelection for Reno City Council this year, and there are some interesting races. What should residents know?
Conrad: The three or four big names that are up for reelection this year are, of course, Jenny Brekhus, Devon Reese, and I should say Devon Reese is not up for reelection, he is actually up for election; he was selected and appointed last year to fill a vacancy. And then, of course, Oscar Delgado and Neoma Jardon.
I think what residents should know is, do they want to stay the course with these candidates, or do they want something new? What I think residents need to know is are they happy with their current representation on the Reno City Council, in their respective wards, and if they are, then I think they're going to know who to vote for; if they're not, then it might be time to explore some of the candidates that are running against the incumbent.
Serrano: Some of the incumbents have had their fair share of differences. What challenges are they up against?
Conrad: If I were to venture a guess, I would say that Brekhus probably faces the biggest challenge. She is very vocal, very outspoken. It's not uncommon to see the rest of the council vote in favor of something and Jenny Brekhus voting against it. Because of that, she has a lot of detractors, but she also has a lot of supporters.
I think that race is going to be very interesting: you have three people running for that seat. Of course, Jenny Brekhus being one. You also have John "J.D." Drakulich and Britton Griffith. The Reno mayor, Hillary Schieve, has endorsed Britton Griffith for Brekhus' seat, so I think that race is going to be somewhat contentious, maybe not publicly, but at least behind the scenes. In regards to Neoma Jardon, she has name recognition, and she has also been very visible in the community.
She is facing three different opponents: Darla Fink is one, and the other two are Kurt Gottschalk and Lee Wilhelm. We put out a call for information from all candidates in the local area and did not hear back from the two of them.
Darla Fink said that she was raised in the area. She has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Reno, and in her platform, she says there are critical infrastructure needs that are not being met. For the [This Is Reno] voter guide, we did not hear back from the other candidates.
Serrano: Is there anything that could hurt their chances of being reelected?
Conrad: With regard to the incumbents, we know them. If you follow city politics, we know Devon Reese, we know Jenny Brekhus, we know Oscar Delgado, we know Neoma Jardon, we know where they stand, basically on a lot of issues. So if there were a major scandal, I would say yes, that would hurt their chances from being reelected, but I'm not really seeing anything on the horizon at this point that could hurt their chances. Funding is always a concern to support their campaign, so that definitely could play into it, but at this point, some of these races are going to be fairly straightforward.
Serrano: There's also an At-Large seat up from grabs. What do you know about that position?
Conrad: In regard to the At-Large seat, that is always an odd seat to me. Devon Reese is being challenged by George "Eddie" Lorton, who has not been successful in earning an elected seat in an office.
He is viewed as fairly conservative, whereas Devon Reese is viewed as fairly progressive. I'm not sure we could delineate those lines strictly on either of those candidates, but Lorton has been fairly controversial for a variety of reasons. And I'm not saying that Reese has not been controversial, but some people have registered concerns about Reese as a council member.
I think people know where he is coming from. He is the vice mayor right now. He's been very active in campaigning, primarily through social media, from what I've seen. Whereas Lorton seems to be taking a more traditional approach to getting his name out there by putting signs up all over the city. I think Lorton will have a tough fight against Devon Reese.
Serrano: Ward 3's Oscar Delgado is running for his third term. He has been fairly hands-on with helping to get information to the Latino community in his ward. What would it take for someone to unseat him there?
Conrad: In the case of Ward 3, certainly Oscar Delgado is the known incumbent. He is kind of a mainstay for Ward 3, whereas his opponent, Ruth "Rudy" Leon, is relatively unknown. She is a big advocate for renters' rights, and she advocates for people suffering from the effects of gentrification. She believes that she can do a better job than Oscar Delgado, but Delgado has been there a while, and people know him because he's been out in the community. Some of his decisions have been controversial among his ward, but is that enough to tilt the election against him? I don't think so. Again, I could be wrong. I think too because Delgado is Latino and a lot of his ward is Latino, I think he has an advantage there. I think Rudy has a tough fight but you know, I've been surprised before and I could be surprised again.
Bob Conrad is the publisher of This Is Reno where you can find a detailed voter guide for the greater Reno area.