Councilmembers Could be Elected by Individual Wards

By: Joe Harrington Email
By: Joe Harrington Email

RENO -- Reno City Councilmembers would be elected by voters in individual wards, or sections of the city, under a bill being debated. Currently, the mayor and at-large councilmember are elected city-wide. Councilmembers who represent wards must win primary elections in those wards, then win a city-wide general election. The bill would make the general election ward-only.

Proponents of ward-only voting said it avoids the expense of running for election city-wide, making running for city council accessible to more people.

Reno City Councilmember Oscar Degado said he supports shifting to ward-only voting. Of the current system he said: "if somebody is elected in the primary wins their ward by eighty percent, overwhelmingly, then runs city-wide and then they lose is that proper representation?"

The bill, introduced in the legislature, would create ward-only voting in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Henderson.

Most of the councilmembers in Reno voted to take a position against shifting to a ward-only system. Councilmember Dwight Dortch said Reno voters indicated they want to keep the current system when an advisory vote was taken.

Dortch also said under a ward-only system, one would vote only for the mayor and the councilmember who represents one's ward. "When we are dealing with very personal issues like land-use issues... you've only got two people that you can hold accountable, right now you've got seven people you can hold accountable."

A similar bill failed to make it through a previous session.


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