Unclear if Termed-Out Council Members Can Be Mayor

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RENO -- Whether termed-out city councilmembers should be able to serve as mayor remains unclear. Councilmembers debated asking the City of Reno's attorneys to get a court opinion. Councilmembers can serve for 12 years, or three four-year terms.

Councilmember Hillary Schieve said the mayor's role is distinct, and termed-out councilmembers ought to be able to serve as mayor. However, she said it's not the City of Reno that should examine who is eligible to run.

"If they are going to get those opinions they need to do it on their own resources and not the City's," Schieve said.

A motion for Reno staff to try to obtain a court opinion failed Wednesday. Some councilmembers said with no court opinion, there could be voting confusion.

"For us to get clarity now can certainly save us dollars in the long run with regards to reprinted ballots and you want your citizens to have a clearer vision of who the candidates are," councilmember Neoma Jardon said.

Mayor Bob Cashell said clarification from the courts is needed "so (the public) know(s) whether they are contributing to a viable candidate or not a viable candidate."

The Nevada Attorney General's office has issued the opinion termed-out councilmembers can run for mayor. However, the City of Reno's counsel said the opinion might not settle the matter.

Eddie Lorton is a candidate for mayor of Reno. Lorton hinted it might take a lawsuit to resolve who is eligible. He said councilmembers who have served 12 years should not be allowed to run for mayor because the roles are not significantly different.

"Each one of them only has one vote so they are part of the council and the mayor is part of the council," Lorton said.

The mayoral election is next autumn. Current mayor Bob Cashell is leaving due to term limits.

Possible mayoral candidates, and current city councilmembers, Sharon Zadra and Dwight Dortch did not vote on the issue Wednesday.