High Court: No Mayoral Runs for Termed Council Members - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

High Court: No Mayoral Runs for Termed Council Members

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The Nevada Supreme Court says termed out members of the Reno City Council cannot run for mayor.
In a 5-2 decision issued Thursday, justices granted a petition by Reno businessman and mayoral candidate George "Eddie" Lorton, who argued council members who are termed out are ineligible to serve on the same governing body as mayor.

"The mayor is a part of the council, simply presides over it's meetings. It's like a board and you have a chair person and he has a couple of ceremonial duties that are extra."

Justices Parraguirre and Saitta wrote the dissenting opinion saying the mayor alone is responsible for protecting the public peace and suppressing riots and is the only one authorized to declare emergencies.

Today's decision disqualifies Dwight Dortch from running. "We really thought our argument was strong and we really thought we would prevail in this and I'm disappointed in it."

Dortch says the ruling eliminates experienced candidates from running for mayor. After this year's election the most tenure for any council member will be two years. "I think most people would prefer a mayor with some experience. I think when you go to the polls and you're electing a mayor, you're not thinking you're electing a city council person."

Lorton adds, "We're $600 million in debt, $900 million worth of unpaid benefits. So, that isn't the kind of experience I want."

The ruling also means former council member Jessica Sferrazza will also not be on the ballot. Both have been raising money and organizing their campaigns in a bid to replace longtime Mayor Bob Cashell in this year's election.  

In the majority opinion written by Justice James Hardesty, the court determined that the Reno mayor is a member of a local governing body and that council members who've served 12 years are ineligible for mayor. 

Now, it's important to note that this ruling does not automatically apply to the office of mayor for all Nevada cities. It's because of how the city charter of Reno defines the role of mayor as - "part of the city's local governing body." If any possible changes are made to the city charter, it would be too late to have an effect on this year's election. The decision also means we will likely see many more people put their names on the ballot for Reno mayor.

(The Associated Press and KTVN Reporter Paul Nelson both contributed to this report.)

Jessica Sferrazza released this statement after the ruling:

"While I'm disappointed by the decision, my love for Reno and my commitment to helping our community grow and prosper remains strong. Most importantly, I want to thank my friends and supporters who have remained at my side through this ordeal and assure them that we will continue to work together to better our city and improve the quality of life for our residents. I don't have to be in public office to keep my pledge to you."

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