Reno Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

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We sent questionnaires to the candidates for Reno Mayor and will be posting their answers as they come in. These are the candidates who have answered our questions so far. We’ll continue to add to the list as we receive the answers in the newsroom.

DeLores Aiazzi

How could the debt service for the City of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?

There is a lot of discussion about this issue but not very much research is being done (including many candidates for Mayor). The City of Reno is NOT “insolvent” and actually is not even near insolvency. It may get its credit scored downgraded but that is far from insolvency. Let’s take a look at the facts:

In the 2013/2014 Budget, the City of Reno had outstanding General Obligation Bond debt of $139,165,318. That money was used for street repair, sewer repair, fire station and apparatus and clean energy. Reno has a statutory limit on these types of bonds of $888,237,464. That leaves a margin of almost $750 million.

Now I am not proposing that we borrow any more, I am saying that some candidates want you to vote from fear. Imminent bankruptcy will face the City of Reno if you don’t elect them. Well, it’s illegal for a City to declare bankruptcy in Nevada, so it just can’t happen.

Then there is an obligation of $19 million in Special Assessment Debt. This money is used to repair the sidewalks when street repair is done. It is paid back by the people who actually had their sidewalks replaced by the City of Reno.

What they don’t seem to understand is the other debt that Reno has, “Revenue Bonds” or, as it’s listed in Reno’s budget, “Bonds Supported by Sales Tax and Room Tax Revenues”. This is a very large amount. $372,749,940. This is how ReTRAC, the Special Events Center, etc. was funded.

If they do understand this fact, what they don’t tell you is what a “Revenue Bond” is. These are bonds that are sold to big companies like Goldman Sachs. These big companies understand that these bonds will only be paid back by whatever was promised to pay them back. In Reno’s case it is Sales Tax and Room Tax. NOT MONEY THAT COULD BE USED FOR POLICE, FIRE, STREETS, ETC. ONLY by sales tax and room tax.

What these big companies also understood, and the City of Reno agreed, was that this is a riskier investment than general obligation bonds are, where the full faith and credit of the City is backing them. Since both sides understood it was a riskier investment, it was agreed to pay them a higher interest rate. These bonds are mostly in the 5% range with one being 7.88%. The largest one, however, is at 3.32%. Compare those to General Obligation Bond Rates. They are in the 2, 3 & 4% range.

You see, the big banks took the risk that the money might not be there and now, many of the candidates want to bail them out! There is one candidate saying we should sell ReTRAC property to pay of the General Obligation Bonds. That can’t happen. All the revenue from those sales has to go to ReTRAC Debt. It would not help with the issues revolving around the Fire Department.

To finally summarize, I will not lead you with fear. I will tell you the truth. The $650-$700 million debt figure is what the bonds sold for and not what is currently owed on them Add those three figures up and it is $531 million and $18 million more of that will be paid off by June 30th so that leaves Reno in debt $513 million. I know, it’s still a lot, but the repeated figures are off by over $120 million maybe they don’t know how to read a budget, but I do.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

At this moment in time, I feel that the project should be put on hold. We should use the money allocated to fix roadways, signalization and right-of-way issues on existing streets. This would relieve some pressure on all local governments that would perhaps free up other money that could be used for public safety. The total project is estimated to cost between $230 and $250 million. The right-of-way costs are expected to be $39 to $44 million. Right-of-way costs do not add anything to the local economy; not work for contractors or jobs for workers. It just goes to a landowner.

Also, with the ROTC and the State of Nevada just finishing up a multi-million dollar project on the freeway system (from Interstate 80 to the Spaghetti Bowl to I-580) I would need to be convinced that this will be needed in the next 10 year for traffic mitigation. As an example, please see the new Moana Lane.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

The SAFER Grant provided a source of funding for 2 years when our economy was hit hardest and we were able to maintain a higher level of service because of it. With reduced property taxes and sales taxes we cannot continue the level of service unless we increase our source of funding. I believe we need to work with the legislature to reset the depreciation on older homes at the point of sale. With few new housing developments at this time our property tax income is decreasing 1.5% every year.

I also believe we need to look at the contract with REMSA, 85% of the calls to the fire department are medical. The fire department shows up before REMSA and should be compensated accordingly. In the summary of recommendations from the TriData emergency medical services working group #36 ”Municipal first responders should be reimbursed by REMSA for providing first responder services.” They are currently only reimbursed for bandages not for being the first responders. We need to change the contract so the fire department can also transport to the hospitals and bill insurance companies accordingly.

How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

Through negotiation. I believe we must work with the bargaining groups to allow the City to give “new hires” a fair but decreased benefit package. I also believe that this can only happen if the groups have a trust with the Council. I would have to say there are members of the current City Council who don’t seem to want to work at all with the unions. I believe that unions have a strong place in our community and should be bargained with in good faith to the betterment of the community and the workers. If we work together we can come up with a good working solution.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?


Not at this time. I believe that we should first make sure that there are adequate systems in place to manage the newly approved medical marijuana. Of course, it would never be up to the City of Reno to legalize it or not, I would keep an open mind when someone, or some group, brought forth a proposal of this sort.

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?


I believe that a great Mayor participates in her community while working to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of the community. I have enjoyed the experience of working with my husband while he was on the city council for 16 years. We worked to preserve Sky Tavern Junior Ski program when the city council was proposing to sell the park in the 1990’s. Sky Tavern is stronger than ever and still run by volunteers 20 years later. I participated in many discussions from the downtown movie theaters, train trench, bike lanes, white water park, Moana soccer fields, the baseball stadium, fire consolidation (and de-consolidation) and Northgate golf course (now a city park). I understand how much hard work it took to come to decisions on these and other projects. I know that decisions are not easy but with hard work, citizen involvement, paying attention to the details and follow through we can continue to improve our quality of life. I know what it takes and I am ready to take the lead role encouraging all to work together to enhance and preserve the unique qualities of the Biggest Little City in the World.

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Robert Avery

How could the debt service for the City of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?


The debt service is restructured as deemed necessary, and much has already been done during periods of lower interest rates. Restructuring has costs associated with it and not typically the best solution in a climate of rising interest rates but should continuously be evaluated. 

ReTRAC is currently in litigation with Goldman Sachs & Bank of New York and they are working with us here. 

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?


The S.E. Connector has long been debated in our community with many public hearings reviewing numerous proposals, with millions of taxpayer dollars invested already.  We need to stop using this project as political opportunity for candidates’ grand standing.  The Army Corps of Engineers is currently evaluating the final environmental report for recommendations on the final leg of the project.  We need to complete this project in order to protect the taxpayers.       

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting? 

Public Safety funding is a core competency of the City and needs to be addressed in a responsible manner.  I would recommend that the Fire Chief make the operational decisions including staffing for his department.  Currently the Fire Chief does not have the authority to manage his department as does the Washoe County Sheriff and Police Chief.  If the Fire Chief believes that mixed crews can be used safely, or if he is able to manage his shift resources more effectively then we may see new departmental efficiencies. Additionally, we need to stop sending fire trucks and other expensive fire equipment in response to lower priority medical calls as they are not required.

How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

The number one priority we should focus on is to stop growing the OPEB unfunded liabilities and then we need to start decreasing that debt load. 
(1)    The first priority refers to placing all city employees into a 2-tier system whereby newly hired employees do not receive medical coverage for life.  So far all Non-Represented city employees as well as Local 39 have agreed to this (which began July 1, 2013) and other groups are currently in negotiations, so hopefully this can be agreed to by all parties.
(2)    We need to start funding the unfunded liability @ $12M/yr.  This will require growing the economy as the money simply does not exist out of the General Fund. 
If we continue to grow this unfunded liability then all future benefits are at serious risk to existing city employees making an amicable solution easily agreed to. 

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?


I do not support recreational use of marijuana and I believe that our community needs to focus on job and industry growth.  People who medically need it should have access to it, but Reno can be greater than the sum of our parts and prosper if we will simply move forward together on the more important issues in our community.  

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I am the best choice because I have a vision for our City... My 3 Tier Vision for Our Community embodies the following Plan of Action:

Economic Development Action Plan
•    Increase business recruitment efforts to bring in new jobs
•    Reno needs to be at the center of the new technology movement
•    High-Tech jobs are high paying jobs; let’s create a future for our kids 
Community Enrichment Action Plan 
•    Bring the University Community Downtown
•    Expand the Whitewater Park through the downtown core
•    Expand City Beautification Programs into our neighborhoods
Fiscal Responsibility Action Plan
•    Revenues need to increase without raising taxes
•    Make Reno business friendly to help local businesses
•    Get Serious about Consolidating Services

I am uniquely qualified to be the Mayor of Reno because of my many years of experience in the private sector negotiating mutually beneficial public private partnerships. Throughout my professional career I have created efficiencies in government operations where they previously did not exist while forging alliances that reduced costs and increased revenues.

As a technology professional in Reno spanning the past 2 decades, I personally know the challenges we face if we are to establish Reno as a critical component in the High-Tech industry.  I believe this is a pivotal moment where we need to implement my plan to move Reno forward. 

Please see more details on my 3 Tier Vision here: http://avery4reno.com/plan-action-reno-future

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Marsha Berkbigler

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?

Much of the debt is the result of municipal bonds that have designated funding tied to them and even though they are not being fully funded at this time as the economy improves and sales tax revenues which are dedicated to these particular bonds increase we will be able to increase funding for full repayment.  The best way to resolve the remaining debt is to continue growing businesses.  More businesses means more jobs which means more tax dollars.  As property tax and sales tax revenues increase the funding to the City will increase.  It is also a good idea to revisit the entire budget and debt load to see if there are economies of scale that can be reached by specific changes in key departments.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

I have some concerns about building a road through the middle of a wetlands area and an area that is used as a flood basin during heavy rain years.  However it is my understanding that this project is approved by ROTC, has had an environmental assessment, and is in the final planning stages.  It is unclear to me what, if anything, the Mayor of Reno can do about it.  Additionally there is the concern of how the City would be able to pay back to ROTC the payment for 9 holes of Rosewood Golf Course should this project be canceled.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

It is a concern to me that there was no backup plan in the event the City did not receive the SAFER Grant.  As a result we are faced with a need to find ways to fund enough firefighters to assure full coverage throughout the City.  As Mayor I would work with Washoe County to resolve certain outstanding concerns, for example instead of browning out fire stations in high wildland fire danger areas, we could consider closing one of the RFD or TM fire stations that are located within a block of each other and send the firemen to one of the more critical stations that RFD has browned out.  We should reach an agreement for the provision of automatic aid which will assure the closest fire station responds to the fire/emergency.  I believe we can find some economies of scale by using 2-men rescue vehicles to respond to non-fire emergencies saving money by not rolling the large fire trucks to every call.  There are several other similar ideas that would be fiscally responsible.  I also have some concerns about the fiscal sustainability of the RFD and would like to see some concessions made addressing sustainability.  Those concessions will come in renegotiating the fire service contracts.

How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

The City should make a change to reflect the same action the County took with regard to new employees and stop funding their medical retirement.  I wouldn’t change that plan for existing employees but as new employees are hired the medical retirement should not be funded because it is not financially sustainable.  All we need to do is look at cities around the country to see how this plan negatively impacts the sustainability of governments. I also believe employees should be required to move to Medicare as the reach Medicare available age.  I believe the City needs legislation to take either action.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

Although I support medical marijuana, I would not support approving recreational marijuana at this time.  There are too many unknowns with how recreational marijuana will impact society such as what blood level is acceptable when operating an automobile or machinery.  How will employers handle the use of medical marijuana by their employees?  The Legislature needs to address a number of these questions before we legalize recreational marijuana.  I believe we need to see how medical marijuana dispensaries, bakeries, and growers will impact our communities before we approve recreational marijuana.  The people voted to approve medical marijuana but the question of recreational marijuana has not been voted on.   

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I have worked for major corporations and small companies.  I’ve started new businesses, hired employees, and created jobs.  I am a mediator, negotiator and team builder.  The City of Reno needs a Mayor who can work with our regional partners, the business community, the State Legislature, Congress, other Council members, and residents to build a strong community that new businesses want to locate in and where visitors what to spend time and money.  I have experience in managing large budgets and making certain they were balanced.  I have served as the chairman of several large organizations and managed large meetings where contentious issues have to be worked through.   I have experience working both inside and outside of government and have extensive experience working with NV’s Legislature and Administration.  The Mayor of Reno should be a well-rounded executive who has a successful track record at building consensus and developing well-rounded plans for the City.  I think the Mayor should also be a big thinker.  We cannot resolve our budget problems by leasing out city owned building space, returning the Mayor’s salary or a portion of the Council members salary to the City, starting minimum wage businesses.  We need a person who has experience bringing in big projects and working with multiple groups to grow business and tourism.  We need a well-rounded person with extensive experience.

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Michael Bertrand

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?

This question was born from the fact of Bad Management.
a) First, a private sector audit is necessary, to assess the extent of damage.
b) We need to make "Credit Default Swaps" illegal once again, as they were pervious to "1992." This would remove the incentive to profit from the collapse of over evaluated over loaned speculations. These are financial tools that have a vested interest in Our collapse.
c) privatize government service, to then be fiscally responsible to the Public that government serves. The current government has become so empowered, that It, is acting now as It's own government, trying to figure out how to feed Itself without constraint or morality to the Public that It was designed to serve.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

The SouthEast Connector, clearly shows the current government mind set, that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. The question should have been originally, can We as servants of the Community afford This? It's a good idea to have the means to pay for such a project before burdening the Community with the obligation of further debt. This project was taken upon without consent of the Voter! This is adding to a massive debt. I guarantee that there are Credit Defaults hedged against Our failure.
 
This is a good idea if It is fiscally sound. This is a bad idea if It is drowning the Community in Debt. We are currently drowning in debt, which brings into question the motives of the current management.
 
As a Constitutional Conservative, I understand that It is ultimately necessary to retain Our Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness... as opposed to learning how to be enslaved to a debt so large that It is now a generational problem, that at It's core, is in and of Itself Unconstitutional. Who would wish to enslave a Free People in such a manner? The debt is effectively, though Unconstitutional, a prison without walls, compliments of current management.
Answer: Cut Spending! Lower Taxes! Public Servants need to ensure Domestic Tranquility. Instead We see forced servitude to a debt. Time to fire some management.
 
Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

The current Public Safety debacle, is another all to familiar example of bad management, inexcusable poor planning and negligible foresight. Except for Those who collect on "Credit Default Swaps", like vultures feeding off of a ship wreck.
Community Volunteer Programs, are not only Constitutional, They are proving to be viable. Such as the S.A.V.E. program. Exceptional training of Our Volunteers, could prove to be saving, in every sense of the word.
Fire fighting responsibilities, may have to be privatized to the lowest responsible Bidder... as is the Fallon Naval Station Fire Department. If public servants are sinking Our ship and putting Us at risk, They are no longer public servants. (S.O.S.) save our ship.
This is a government by the People for the People, with Constitutional Powers to limit the size and scope of government, so as to remain Sovereign... and free from oppressive debt, or to be free from obligating Tyranny (debt).
 
How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

Socialized health care not working? Of course not.
I espouse the Dr. Benjamin Carson Health care plan, of individual health care savings accounts.
Dr. Carson, is the Chief of pediatric brain science, at Johns Hopkins.
 
Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

I am a Constitutional Conservative. I respect the voter. This is a question for the voter. A vote that would express the Will of the Voter.
I voted for medical marijuana... and suggested that We immediately impose a 20% special use tax, in order to provide Our Community a short term cushion, in dealing with Our fiscal position.
 
What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I will defend the Constitution, as It is written. Any infringement on Our Constitution, is a violation of Our Sovereignty, Our Sovereignty is Our National Security. I believe in Teaching and Living Our Constitution as enumerated in the "Bill of Rights".
 
Our Children are Our future. I am a board member for Advocacy issues facing Our Families. If elected to be Your servant, I will donate an entire years wages of the office, to Advocacy issues facing Our Community.
 
I am a Rancher, Who believes in tradition and heritage. I believe in accountability and transparency. I believe in an Open Door Policy, to stream line service to Our Community. I will treat the Office of Mayor, as a Public Servant... as Our Forefathers intended.
 
I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. Raised in business by Bud Bertrand. Land development, through financing, design, production and operations. Understanding fiscal responsibility makes or breaks. Here I spent 17-18 years as a Qualifying Employee on a General Contracting License, with professional level design and production skills, and have employed at least two other Mayoral Candidates, RaPezonellala and Chuck Reno. I then continued on in land development, property management and My labor of love, cattle ranching. I understand fiscal responsibility and service.
 
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Sean Burke

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?


Cut spending, reduce waste, sell assets not being utilized, focus on key priorities, raise property taxes on new sales (reset depreciation), reduce / freeze salary increases for public employees, investigate other ways we can cut spending as a community, listen to the public and key city leaders as to their ideas, encourage renewable energy, encourage community help and insight.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

From what I know it was planned many years ago and has been "in the works" for a long time.  Personally, I am all for infrastructure and transportation to make our city easier to navigate and get around.  I would have held off on the SE Connector strictly based on the financial condition of the city and put it off.  Since we have already started and spent so much, lets utilize what is done and complete it in the near future when the money situation is better.  Was I for this specific project at this time: No

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?


I am a firm believer in Public Safety and we as a community need to have the best protection for our citizens and residents. I think we should have an adequate police and fire force in place at every station at all times.  Four-man crews for fire, no brownouts, ample up to date vehicles and whatever tools are necessary for them to do their jobs correctly. If we have to reduce spending somewhere else, sell some assets that are being unused or under utilized, or enact a slight tax increase across the board to all citizens, then I think we should.  There has to be a way to properly maintain and regulate an adequate and practical fire and police force at all times. Lets find it and do it
 
How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

If the city promised and owes health benefits to previous and current employees, we owe it to them. We can't change a deal that has already been made.  For future hires some things could be changed or adjusted. The city should not be allowed to back out or change benefits to those that have already worked for it.  Manage the money better and make changes now for the future.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

I would support medical and recreational marijuana.  Tax it, regulate it and take advantage of it.  Why? The city can benefit financially from both medical and recreational marijuana. The key is to regulate, monitor and tax.
 
What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I am the best choice for Mayor because of the following reasons:
I am young and can put in the hours, days and years necessary and expected to fulfill the requirements and expectations of the community.
I do not owe anyone any favors and don't have anyone "in my pocket".
I have no financial backing.
I am a hard worker, have lots on business experience, have employed many people, get along well, am willing and able to learn.
My main goal and 1st step would be to LISTEN to what the people want and need.
I do not have an agenda.
I look at running the city like running a business.  Checks and balances, communication, cooperation and implementing the necessary services and policies that the city needs to move forward.
I have worked in many different capacities in my life and have a well balanced education and much experience to bring to the table.
I can do this for the next 12 years if the citizens want me too, whereas some other candidates are not in a position to do that - either because of their desire not to, their age or their physical limitations.
I have actively participated in our community for many years, having grown up here. I have been involved with a Community Service organization for almost 10 years (Reno Host Lions Club).
I have no obligations that would hold me back if elected.

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Tom Fitzgerald

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?


The bonded debt currently totals $580 million. Payment of the principal and interest is derived from a variety of tax sources. I propose that where possible and legal, the bonds with the highest interest rate be paid down as quickly as possible. Then, if possible, once they are paid off, the specific taxes should be used to pay off other bonds with high interest rates. If that is not possible, then the specific tax should be abolished.

Unfunded Liabilities are approximately $410 million. These include contractual contributions to city employees’ retirement funds and their long term health care expenses. I propose that the City and employees’ unions negotiate new levels of payments that include the employees paying for a portion of these costs. In addition, all employees pay Medicare Tax on their earnings so when Medicare begins for an individual, the obligation for the City to provide health coverage should end. As with many other government entities, PERS retirement payments should be shared by both the City and the employees. These changes would have an immediate impact on reducing unfunded liabilities and would ultimately eliminate any unfunded balance.

An agreement with the employee unions to create a higher level of employee contributions for all employees hired from now forward would additionally bring down the future cost of employee benefits to the City.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?


The SouthEast Connector is a much needed regional roadway that is currently under construction. With our recovering economy, Washoe County’s population is again growing. The Nevada State Demographer estimates, based on current population, indicate our regional population will grow by 22,000 people during only the next five years, by 58,000 in 10 years and by 2032 a total increase of 116,000 is very possible. Growth of this magnitude will put a strain on all existing road and highway infrastructure. Now is the time to complete the SouthEast Connector to help alleviate such strain. To date, we have already spent several millions on the project and to abandon it will waste the money in addition to creating future transportation problems including higher levels of air pollution. Failure to complete the Connector will create a perception that Reno is not a forward looking city.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

Public safety is one of the core elements of city government. Government exists because citizens are not able to meet all public core elements without organization and a dedicated workforce to deliver them. With good police and fire safety in place, citizens can be productive and focus on growing the entire community into a stronger and brighter future. Funding for public safety employees and all manner of equipment necessary for them to accomplish their job is vital. Unlike humans, equipment can be purchase, maintained and repaired on a fairly simple basis. Humans require salaries to meet their needs and expectations as they advance through life while providing public safety. In years past, we have asked more of our safety providers in exchange for salary and benefit increases.

Simultaneously, citizens have been educated to better insure their own safety. Fire safety in particular has been well stressed and in 2013, the Reno Fire Department responded to a total of 586 fires, from small scary events to multi-alarm disasters. Responding to these fires were well trained firefighters using state-of-the-art equipment and methods. As firefighting has advanced, the manning structure of the fire stations has remained fairly unchanged. For several years, Washoe County has operated with three person fire teams while Reno has operated with four person teams. During that time, there were disasters that occurred and were well handled because of the interagency agreements in place.

Never during that time has an incident occurred indicating that a 3 person response team is unsafe or dangerous as compared to a 4 person team. Although the Reno firefighters can supply reams of information about the need for 4 person teams, there is no supporting data to indicate a 3 person team or the public is at severe risk. Freeing one member from each 4 person team would enable formation of additional teams to reopen one or more browned-out fire stations.

I will engage in discussions with the City Council members, senior City staff and the firefighters to seek a compromise on current staffing levels and ultimately to consolidate such services with other government entities in our area. Public safety should not be compromised nor should it be blackmailed. Give and take is necessary for the betterment of all.

How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

All retired employees regardless of where they worked, now have health insurance coverage available through Medicare and the Affordable Care Act at a minimum. In addition, there are numerous additional plans available for purchase from other sources. The choice of what additional coverage to choose should be left to the individual with the payment for such coverage being their responsibility. When an individual has no investment in a program, they often do not take care of themselves and thus their health is often negatively affected. I believe the City should not pay for any retired employee’s health insurance once they reach the age of Medicare coverage.

I believe the City should seek legislative approval to change the current union agreements that give retired employees fully paid health coverage after retirement for the rest of their lives. With a new agreement, employees will be on notice to keep themselves healthy and that all future health needs will not be met by the City.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

People tend to self-medicate with caffeine, nicotine, high calorie foods, alcohol, and prescription painkillers among others. If the voters of Nevada approve the legalization of recreational marijuana, as an elected official, it would be the law I would support. If legalized, it would free law enforcement and the court system from persecuting individuals who believe the current prohibition is wrong. This would enable those resources to be used to pursue serious crimes that have a more significant impact on society.

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I am the best rounded candidate with the most experience in all the important areas of being an effective mayor. This includes:

* 11 years as a three-term elected official who made tough decisions allocating budget monies, worked with citizens and their special groups, and being innovative in solving public problems. My leadership was responsible for saving taxpayers millions of dollars during and after my time in office.
* 16 years owning a business, meeting payroll, paying taxes. The business was started from scratch then grew to become a prime player in a boutique niche of printing.
* 11 years as CEO of a government agency charged with distributing and monitoring federal workforce training funds throughout northern Nevada during the worst economic recession of the past 30 years. This position including ongoing interactions with 13 northern Nevada county commissioners, their staffs, three state departments and over a dozen non-profits.
* A 25-year active participant in a variety of community organization including 9 years as a Board member of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, past Board member of the Chamber of Commerce, Northern Nevada Development Authority, and Partners in Education. In addition, I was a 9-year Board member of Western Industrial Nevada (WIN) including one year as President, and a 3-year Board member of the Nevada Association of Employers.
* With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science, I entered the Air Force and served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer where I learned from so many great mentors about dealing with people and solving problems.
* I am a perfectionist. I want things done right the first time. Often the right way is very difficult. When working with limited resources and great demands, it is often tempting to take the easy way out and hope things to be okay in the future. The easy way out does not and never has worked. It is time to make tough decisions for our City’s positive future. I am the type of leader who can work with all sides, craft compromises, and move ahead.
* I have campaigned and personally distributed my flyer to almost 10,000 homes in Reno. I have met with and talked to a great variety of our neighbors. They have told me of their concerns, offered suggestions for improvements, asked penetrating questions, and offered to keep providing input once I am elected. I intend to keep the dialogue going after being elected. I will attend community forums and events, share my insights through social media and continually seek citizen input. I do not have all of the answers for our future, but by working with those who live here, the answers will be created.
* Finally, I want to give back to our community. I am blessed with a great life. I have lived the American Dream as it used to be portrayed – no limits on what you can achieve in this great country. Now it is time for me to help focus our citizens on that dream here in Reno. We Love This Place for many reasons. With my leadership, we can create so much more.

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Erik Holland

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?


I would advocate making the maximum contributions to the ARC to ensure that our public service people are given what has been promised them. For example, instead of spending $400,000 to give developers a break in their fees, I would put that money into that account.  Instead of “identifying a funding source” so we can tear down the historic and wonderful Virginia Street bridge, I would put some of that money into that account (and use the rest to create decent public transit so that ALL CITIZENS can maximize the opportunities afforded to them by this area…not just those with reliable cars.  I support the work of Robert Chisel in renegotiating the Letter of Credit on ReTRAC and the Events Center. 
I do not support giving developers a $400,000 break in fees as recently suggested in public hearings on the budget…they can afford to pay the freight.  Impact fees need to go up. I would advocate a tiered system, that incentives downtown and urban core development/redevelopment….and is perhaps neutral on places like Stead, where there is already development, and ..well…simply makes undoable any development beyond existing urban boundaries. It’s sad that our city limits go to Verdi…when my high school students who love near Summit Sierra can’t even get to school on a bus!  This needs to change…

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue? 

I oppose it. We should connect the existing road to the nearest road and spend the remaining money improving public transit.  I understand we may need a vote to do that, and I would advocate that. 

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?


I would like to see complete consolidation of the region’s fire fighting services, so that the closest fire station responds to emergencies and fires.  I realize the entities have different contracts, and the differences need to be ironed out, but meanwhile, it is absurd to have a fire trucks passing each other on 395 to get to fires in different jurisdictions!  It is perhaps true that the public service employees, including fire fighters, have generous benefit packages…but we as a community promised those packages and it is up to us as a community to keep those promises.  Another candidate referred to employees as “labor unit costs.”  They are people, like the rest of us!
Of course, in a management role, such as a mayor has, I would also make sure overtime costs are kept at a minimum.  I support continuing to use four person fire trucks in the City of Reno, but again, when you are having a heart attack or your house is burning down, it doesn’t matter to you how many firefighters are in the truck - it matters that the fire is being fought. 
In short…we need to keep promises already made, but I would advocate controlling overtime and training expenses more aggressively in the future.

How should the City of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out? Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

With the information in hand right now, I would vote to change the system, so that we can keep promises to those to whom it has already been made. The current system was designed when folks lived ten years past retirement…now folks often live 30 years past retirement!

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

I do support legalizing it, for several reasons.  One big reason, is with a legal industry, the pot farms in the Sierra Nevada could be better policed and one wouldn’t be taking their lives in their hands to take a hike! I personally do not like the stuff, I love a glass of red wine…and my girlfriend brews beer!

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I am still the only candidate really talking about issues that matter to ordinary people.  Bread and butter stuff, like public transportation to the emerging job centers in Patrick and even Fernley. I am a teacher at Rainshadow Charter High School, and I lost two awesomely talented students when their Dad’s car broke down (They lived in Cold Springs).  I was the only Democrat to openly support the Education First Initiative at the Democratic convention.   I am the only candidate for mayor who is advocating the other part of the equation of revitalizing the downtown area….STOPPING the sprawl on the fringes.  Some of the Wild West development patterns in the past two decades have led to the fiscal problems we have today. 

We should do a Portland-style urban growth boundary around Reno/Sparks and stop up-zoning land every time a developer buys a ranch. Studies show that closer in, multi-use developments generate far more tax revenue per unit, than sprawling suburban style homes.  That said, my definition of “infill” is fairly loose…for those who want the traditional suburban style home, there is plenty of vacant land (such as Kiley Ranch) that can be used….the area is already (from a scenic viewpoint) destroyed by homes.  For the love of God, let’s have a city that comes to an end…so the REASON many people come here isn’t isn’t lost forever…and move to Elko and ruin that place.
I have to smile that I received frowns when I told the Commercial Real Estate Development meeting that I oppose sprawl…BUT the Stark reality is that we have too many empty buildings downtown, and in fact, my opponent Ken Stark would benefit from a strict Portland style UBG.  ( Sorry, Mr. Stark, I couldn’t resist).

And this carries me to my final point:  In fact, within some clearly defined limits, I am a consensus builder. I have served as chair of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club and held the Club together during a very difficult time when we were deciding whether or not to sue the TRPA over a flawed development plan.  I would listen to all sides, but people who vote for me should realize they are voting for a mayor that would not “try to identify a funding source for building a Virginia Street Bridge (we already have one, and it is famous), but that would try to “identify a funding source” for improving public transit, for creating a second homeless shelter with training facilities, perhaps at the King’s Inn, and would draw a line around the already sprawling urban footprint to force development inward towards the urban core.

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Chuck Reno

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?

The City of Reno has $1.6B in city assets. We pay $20M in interest each year as a city. Throughout the city there are many vacant city-owned parcels, particularly along the ReTRAC project, that must be appraised and sold (at fair market value). These parcels are not generating taxes and are a liability exposure to the city. We should grant first right of refusal to the adjacent parcel owners for acquisitions. If they do not want the parcel, or can’t afford it, then the parcel should be auctioned off. All proceeds from these sales should go straight to debt reduction and not to the general fund. In the case of the many parcels along ReTRAC, any proceeds from those sales must be used to pay off the bond debt for the trench. If we reduced our debt, we would be paying less in interest and our total debt service would diminish. The cost savings from less debt could be used to help fund our main duty as a city; namely, providing better police and fire protection, improving our aging infrastructure, and improving our recreational facilities. Overall, reduction of debt will be my primary focus as Mayor. We must get our financial house in order so we can move forward and have greater success as a city.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

The SouthEast Connector is a project of regional significance. One of the great aspects of the Truckee Meadows is our ease of vehicle circulation. In most cases, you can be nearly anywhere in the area within 15 to 20 minutes. The SouthEast Connector was designed to help the east side of Reno connect travelers to I-80 from South Meadows without increasing traffic on I-580. This is a good project for the region. On the Planning Commission, I along with my fellow commissioners, reviewed all of the concerns surrounding the connector. This 45 mph road will act much like the McCarran Loop (which when proposed was controversial). The SouthEast Connector will not be a short cut for large truck traffic, but a commuter route for local vehicles as it has many stop lights along its route. I see the value in the SouthEast Connector. As Such, I made all the motions on the Planning Commission to approve the project for greater ease of travel in Reno and the region. Time will show that this is a good project for Reno.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

Public safety is the number one duty of the City Council. We must provide our hard working safety professionals with all the needed equipment and resources to help protect our city. I’m satisfied with the dedication and hard work they do on our behalf. The staffing levels have been greatly reduced over the past several years and I would like to hire more firefighters if we have available funds. I would propose removing the Fire Department and Police Department funding out of the general fund and into dedicated budget items so they can remain solvent and protected. Moving forward, more power for use of the personnel and unit sizes should be granted to the Fire Chief. Firefighters and city management, by the direction of the council, will need to address how new hires are compensated and the benefits they receive. We need more firefighters and negotiations on those new hires will be critical to the future solvency of the Fire Department and the city.

How should the city of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out?  Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

A tiered system is the only equitable way to address health insurance coverage for the many different types of employment in the city. If I was to retire from my current employment I would not receive healthcare benefits, nor do I expect to.  Firefighters, policeman and others who have high labor intensive and physical requirements as a condition of employment, should receive health insurance benefits after retirement to bridge the gap between retirement and Medicare. Funding Health Saving Accounts (HSA) with manageable deductibles is a proper and an equitable solution. We must work with the many city bargaining groups to address implementing the tiered system with all new hires. New hires will know what to expect, and what not to expect regarding medical insurance when they retire, and can plan accordingly.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana?  Why or why not?

While on the Planning Commission, I have been heavily involved with the proper placement of dispensaries. Medical Marijuana is the law of Nevada and we must provide different uses in certain zoning districts within the city; namely, labs, cultivation facilities, processing facilities and dispensaries for those who are legally allowed to use medical marijuana. However, these facilities are highly regulated and monitored by law enforcement and the state government for legal cardholder’s use only. I was speaking to an advocate of medical marijuana and he, like myself, are opposed to recreational use of marijuana. Recreational use tells our children that use of a mind altering and additive drugs is acceptable; some of the strains of marijuana are so potent they are highly addictive. Marijuana is not like alcohol and in some cases it is 20 times more potent than one cigarette. During the past couple of decades, we as a society, have stemmed the tide of smoking; why would we reverse all our hard work? We need to encourage our youth and adults to continually improve themselves and meet their true potential. Marijuana is not a drug we should embrace for recreational use in our society.

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

As a State licensed Professional Civil Engineer (PE) and Water Rights Surveyor (WRS) I will bring greater credibility and professionalism to the Council. Of all the candidates, I bring the most city experience to the office of Mayor. Currently I’m a Commissioner on the City of Reno Planning Commission; I sit at the same seats as the City Council and I make decisions now for Reno. I was on the Historic Resources Commission (HRC) and the Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB) for the city. I know how the city works, I understand the city codes and regulations, I know the city staff, I know the Council members personally, I work with them now. I have dual degrees from UNR in Civil Engineering and General Studies; additionally, I have a degree in Architecture; I’m analytical and deliberative. As a Reno Native, I bring perspective of the changes the city has gone through over the past decades. I’m a family man; I’ve been married for 15 years and have 3 children and that too gives me perspective. I want the best for the city and have been working for years to help out and make a difference for our great city. I want to bring my years of business experience and expertise to the Council as our next Mayor.

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Hillary Schieve

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?

I will run the city like I run my businesses. In order to protect the city’s bond rating we must renegotiate the bonds that were approved by a previous City Council.  I will deliver a semi-annual state of the city financial address to increase transparency in city government spending. I will work with the financial institutions to restructure the city’s debt. I don’t believe the city should be borrowing money that it cannot afford. I will make sure that we protect the city’s bond rating. When I was first elected to office I was instrumental in occupying one of our city properties by bringing in over $300,000.00 of revenue to our city. I promise to look at how we are going to generate revenue as a city instead of spending it.  

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

Before I was elected to the City Council, a prior City Council passed a resolution opposing the SouthEast Connector through the Rosewood Lakes golf course. The residents of southeast Reno were promised when they purchased their homes that the golf course would be preserved and not harmed. The Corps. of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have yet to issue permits for the construction of this road. I believe that moving forward with this project would be irresponsible to both the taxpayers and the residents of Southeast Reno. This project brings with it multiple negative environmental issues. First the methylmercury in the soil below the road has the potential to affect our air quality if this chemical is not removed properly. Additionally this area is prime for flooding. Due to the environmental impacts and the flooding, I cannot stand in support of this project.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting? 


I will only use general fund dollars for essential city services. I do not believe we should be spending $30 million out of the general fund to subsidize big business that should be going towards public safety entities like fire and police.  I did not vote in favor of the fire layoffs as it only jeopardizes our citizens’ safety especially since our drought conditions are at an alarming level. We need now more than ever to be looking at regionalizing fire services with the county to provide the best possible services to our region.

How should the city of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out?  Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

We must continue to meet the current obligations that our retirees were promised. Currently employees have been taking voluntarily pay cuts to help fund the increase in PERS contributions. Fire and police both took pay decreases in their last contracts with the city.  Local 39, who represents the majority of our city employees, recently agreed to give up lifetime medical insurance for their new hires. This is projected to save our taxpayers millions of dollars. Working with our employee bargaining groups is essential to make sure we are meeting our PERS obligations. I don’t support continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers with no results.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?

The City Council voted unanimously to move forward with regulations regarding medical marijuana. The voters overwhelmingly voted for this initiative twice. I was recently appointed to a statewide committee to represent all municipalities on medical marijuana. Recreational use can hardly be determined at this time since we still have not put policies in place for medical use. This initiative will also be determined by a vote of the people to support or oppose such use of recreational marijuana.

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I was born and raised in Reno. My passion for Reno started long before I was elected to the council in 2012. I was one of the founders of a new business district that is known today as Midtown, a revitalized area that is now home to thriving businesses, restaurants, and entrepreneurs.
Since being elected to the council, I created the Technology and Innovation Council, bringing together Reno’s tech and entrepreneurial community by providing resources and access to local elected officials. The efforts have paid off with the Reno Trailhead, which will enhance the walkability of downtown Reno.
I feel strongly about re-branding the city’s image. As one of the founders of The Biggest Little City movement, I was instrumental in bringing the idea to life.
I also bring my business experience to City Hall by fighting against wasteful spending. Recently I saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars when a national payroll company tried to take advantage of the city.
I have a strong record of fiscal responsibility on the council.  I am the owner of two small businesses in the city of Reno, Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet. As a business owner, I created jobs despite the recession, earning me the Reno Gazette-Journal’s 2011 “Entrepreneur of the Year" award along with the Young Professional Network and the Reno Gazette-Journal’s “Top Twenty under Forty” recipient for my business expertise and community service.
I didn’t always aspire to get into politics but decided to take my private revitalizing efforts to the council in 2012. Before becoming an entrepreneur and councilwoman, I was a competitive figure skater. When kidney failure struck me, I received a kidney transplant from my sister, Amanda Sanchez, a local news anchor. I became an advocate for organ donation and spearheaded a national campaign for the World’s Largest Organ Donor Card and lobbied nationwide to promote organ donor awareness.

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Idora Silver

How could the debt service for the city of Reno be restructured to put the city on the best path for future solvency?


The answer to this is not a top-down solution, but involves working with all the parties to come to a consensus. The creditors, the city manager, the council, and the mayor must all be involved. It will be part of an ongoing discussion and negotiation that I will focus on from day one. It will best be solved by the mayor facilitating the discussion, not by trying to unilaterally force through one individual’s plan.

Where do you stand on the SouthEast Connector Issue?

I am in favor of the SouthEast Connector as it stands now, and as it is in the master plan. It represents good planning, provides for enhanced infrastructure, and will create much-needed jobs.

Explain your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public safety funding? What would you do differently – specifically with firefighting?

Public safety is one of the primary jobs of government. We need to prioritize our funding to make sure there are adequate police, fire, and other services. Reno needs to look at how it spends its precious tax dollars in order to insure this priority, reducing expenses where we can, but not on the backs of the working people. We should work toward either regionalizing or reconsolidating our fire services in order to maximize efficiency while providing our citizens with the highest levels of service. We must do everything we can to get more policemen on the streets and firefighters back to work.

How should the city of Reno handle health insurance coverage for retiring city employees from here on out?  Should the system be changed – and, if so, how?

There likely needs to be changes to contracts with new employees which require them to contribute a portion to both their retirement programs and their health insurance coverage. This will need to be worked out in coordination and collaboration with the employee groups. I strongly believe that an adversarial relationship with our employees is not in the best interest of anyone.

Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are being set up, would you support legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not?


Medical marijuana is working through the complications of dispensary licensing and the state/federal conflict over legalization. I believe it is too early to work toward legalizing recreational marijuana. We should take time to conduct research and above all watch the results in Colorado, Washington, and other places where legalization is taking place. I generally lean toward allowing adults to enjoy whatever recreation they see fit as long as it does not harm others, but I worry about the impact and unintended consequences on public safety and public health. The bottom line is that I am not willing to sacrifice public safety and public health for tax dollars.

What makes you the best choice for Mayor of Reno?

I understand what our citizens and our businesses are facing, and I have the skill and experience to make positive changes that can help the whole community. I come from a working-class family and was the first in my family to go to college. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees here at UNR, working several jobs to support myself. I raised my son as a single mother and now help care for my 93-year-old-WWII veteran father. Additionally, I have run my own successful small business for 30 years. My company helps all types of organizations – big businesses, small mom and pops businesses, community organizations, and nonprofits – grow and develop through strategic planning and consensus building. I was brought in to facilitate the development of this city council’s current strategic plan, and I have worked with other city departments in the same or similar capacity. While other candidates are specialists in their niche business, I have more depth and breadth because I have worked in all those businesses – guiding them through tough times, mentoring their owners and CEO’s, and helping them devise plans to keep moving forward. This is what I plan to do as mayor of Reno.

From my personal life I know the challenges and opportunities in the community because I have lived them - and from my professional life I know how to get things done. The citizens of Reno can trust me to take this knowledge and skill-set with me into every meeting and every decision I make as mayor.


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