Reno Mayoral Candidates Speak Out on Public Safety - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno Mayoral Candidates Speak Out on Public Safety

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I will be the first to tell you that wrangling as many candidates as there are in the race for Reno Mayor is like herding cats. But here at Channel 2 we did. We invited the 18 candidates in that race into our studios in groups of six to discuss the issues facing the city. And we found that their ideas on handling those issues vary.

When it comes to public safety all seem to agree it should be a top priority and that dealing with the unions will be the highest hurdle to clear.

According to Eddie Lorton, "the fire chief in Reno has to go to the unions and then go back and forth to try and get anything done.”

And just how to fix that was a loaded question.

“You empower the chief to have control over his department,” said Robert Avery. "You give him the ability to be flexible with the size of the crews needed for different areas.”

“You need union contract changes to make that happen,” Lorton added.

“And you need a roadmap to get there it can’t happen all at once,” Ken Stark said.

“But you have to be careful because there’s been talk of two-man crews,” said Hillary Shieve. “And that would be playing with fire.”

“I agree that the chief should have the ability to manage the crews,” Marsha Berkbigler said. “But not the money."

"The City Council has to maintain control of public funds and taxpayer money.”

“The unions are just going to have to give a little,” said Tom Fitzgerald. “They can’t just sit there and say no.”

But, actually they can because of the way the safety regulations and the union contracts were set up through the state legislature. And Berkbigler who has worked at that level of government knows that’s where you have to start to change things.

Erik Holland spoke out for the unions.

“All I’m hearing here is about how the unions have to keep giving and I want to hear about how the wealthy and the well-off should be giving more for those who need it. That could be with changing the tax structure but everything shouldn’t be taken out of the hide of the working people.”

“You may not need four-man crews everywhere,” said Ray Pezonella, "but that needs to be strategically decided. And flexible crews seems like the best way to go.”

“I am in favor of re-consolidation,” said Delores Aiazzi. “I mean I think we could have worked things between the city and the county out and it’s unfortunate that that didn’t work.”

And Michael Bertrand suggested privatization.

“Other agencies have done it and its working. I think it’s a viable way of dealing with things, letting the services go to the least expensive least responsible company.”

“I really don’t understand why they let the youngest, healthiest and least expensive firefighters go, yet they kept the older and more expensive men," said Ian Pasalich.

When the reason of unions was pointed out, he responded by saying it was time for more discussions on different approaches to the problem.

“If the answers were easy, we’d have them,” said Idora Silver. “I think the role of mayor is a consensus builder. I think the mayor gets everyone together to find a viable answer.”

“I agree with Idora and a lot of the others here today,” said Sean Burke. “I think we are all on the same team and we all need to be able to give a little for the better of the community.”

Written by Erin Breen

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