Who will be Reno's next Mayor?

An early look at the 2014 election for Mayor of Reno

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell
Photo © Stan White

Update: Current information about the 2014 Reno mayoral election is available from "Reno Mayor Election 2014."

Potential replacements for Reno Mayor Bob Cashell are already jockeying for position, despite the fact that the next general election isn't until November, 2014. Here is a look at some of the candidates who may emerge as top contenders when the real fund - raising and campaigning begin (which will be sooner than most of us would like).

This will be an Important Election

If you moved to Reno in 2002 or later, you have known no other mayor than Bob Cashell. In fact, you knew no other Reno City Council, either, until 2012 when all but two members were replaced due to term limits. Those two will also be termed out in 2014. With a new mayor and fresh set of council members, there are sure to be changes in how things are done and what priorities are set. It will definitely be different. Just how different, and where we go from here, will depend on who we choose to guide Reno government over the next few years.

About Current Mayor Bob Cashell

Reno mayors serve four year terms. Robert "Bob" Cashell was first elected in 2002 and re-elected in the subsequent two elections of 2006 and 2010. Previous elective offices include the University of Nevada System Board of Regents and a term as Lt. Governor of Nevada. His private business is Cashell Enterprises, a hotel / casino / resort management company.

Cashell came to the mayor's office promising to end the fractious nature of the city council and managed to do so. Major accomplishments during his tenure include the Community Assistance Center for homeless and needy residents, the ReTRAC train trench through downtown Reno, the Reno Events Center, and Reno Aces Ballpark. The Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield was completed during Cashell's first term, but much of the preliminary work was done under previous mayor Jeff Griffin.

Possible Mayor of Reno Candidates

The names of some well - known local politicians have popped up as possible candidates in the 2014 Reno mayoral election. You have probably heard of most of them if you have paid any attention to Reno politics over the past few years.

Jessica Sferrazza termed out of her Ward 3 Reno City Council seat in 2012. She was the Democratic candidate for Nevada Lt. Governor in the 2012 general election and lost to incumbent Brian Krolicki. According to a June, 2013 article in the Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ), Sferrazza is the only person flatly stating that she is preparing to run for Reno mayor.

Dwight Dortch and Sharon Zadra are on the Reno City Council and both will be termed out in 2014. Neither has ruled out a try for the mayor's office, nor has either publically indicated they will surely enter the race. We wait and see about these two. Dortch currently represents Ward 4 and Zadra represents Ward 2.

Dave Aiazzi was another Reno City Council member who termed out of his Ward 5 seat in 2012. He was subsequently elected to the Washoe County School Board, District E. Aiazzi has not declared his candidacy, but the Reno Gazette-Journal article said a domain name search revealed he has registered AiazziForMayor.com. Curiously, he has also registered some domain names related to potential opponents in the upcoming election - DortchForMayor.com, SferrazzaForMayor.com, and JessicaForMayor.com. I checked and it's true. This seems a bit odd and the RGJ was not able to contact Aiazzi for comment.

How Reno Mayor and City Council Elections Work

Mayor - City of Reno mayoral elections are conducted in a straightforward manner. In the primary election, the field of candidates is winnowed down to the two top vote getters. Voters then select the final winner in the general election. Candidates go before all registered voters in the city during both elections. The mayor is technically a non-partisan office. Candidates do not run under a party banner, but the candidates' political persuasions are never a secret. The mayor serves as a voting member of the Reno City Council, with additional duties as the chief political representative of the city.

City Council - Reno City Council elections are conducted in an unusual manner compared to most other cities throughout the country. During the primary election, the two candidates who will face each other in the general election are only voted on by residents in the ward they seek to represent. In the general election, the finalists go before voters across the entire city. This arrangement has long been questioned as possibly violating the federal Voting Rights Act, an opinion voiced by Reno's city attorney. It also makes it difficult for candidates who lack big money backing from various interest groups to bankroll a citywide campaign as opposed to a less expensive ward specific campaign. A bill to change the system to ward - only voting passed the 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Brian Sandoval.

Sources: Reno Gazette-Journal, City of Reno.

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