Mayor Hillary Schieve announced today at a city council meeting that she is withdrawing a legislative amendment that would model Reno’s mayoral role similar to Sparks’ mayor.
Schieve sought the change that would alter term limits and give her position veto power over other councilmembers. The mayor’s vote on council currently has the same weight as other councilmembers.
“I want to be very clear on my intent,” she said. “My intent was not about veto power. It wasn’t about term limits. My intent was to define the role of this mayor, and as I serve this position longer and longer, I clearly see the difference because I have been in both roles (councilmember and mayor).”
City lobbyist Scott Gilles said that the mayor’s bill amendment is not proceeding through the legislature right now, but that he would follow it and communicate its intent with the governor’s office. The legislative session is scheduled to end Monday night.
Schieve said she would instead seek a legislative change next session. She added that her bill amendment, which she solicited with the help of Las Vegas legislator Tick Segerblom, and first reported in the Reno Gazette-Journal, was a move made on behalf of herself and not the council.
This point was criticized by Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus. Brekhus cited council guidelines which, she said, show that councilmembers, including the mayor, should not usurp the council as a whole at the legislature.
“Those consenting guidelines state that the council will not allow minority positions or opinions to be communicated to the legislature,” she said. “One member (the mayor) took one of our two bills and did communicate a minority position that had been expressed here … What was disconcerting to me is that we had a charter process, they brought it forward to us, we had a bill and that bill was put at risk.”
Those statements sparked a debate with the mayor, which Councilman David Bobzien tried to quell.
“I understand and can appreciate what your frustration might be,” he said to Brekhus.
But Schieve had a retort.
“I’m not surprised that you’re disappointed,” she said to Brekhus. “Sometimes it is challenging to work with you on this body, so that would come as no surprise to me. I hope that moving forward that we can work together. I do feel that until you serve in this capacity you won’t understand the difference.”
Schieve also called out Eddie Lorton, who was in the audience and who spoke during public comment. Lorton is running against Schieve for her seat next year and has been critical of her.
“Actually, Mr. Lorton, if one day you are our mayor, I hope that you will consider this an important … position,” she said. Schieve also interrupted Lorton during his public comment.
“Just because Sparks has a strong mayor form of government, (it doesn’t) mean we need to get one,” Lorton said. “We’re supposed to be the leaders of the community, not the followers.”
Schieve: “Are you saying Sparks are followers?” she asked.
Lorton: “Well, compared to Reno, we have a bigger population.”
“I respect Sparks,” Schieve countered.
“I do too,” Lorton replied, “but I’m talking about our form of government. As stated before, if I were elected for mayor, it would be an honor to serve as a councilmember and have a one-seventh vote. I think that you get better decisions that way instead of having a dictatorship where you can veto things.”
“Hopefully, Eddie, you will serve in this position one day,” Schieve remarked.
“God knows I’ll try,” Lorton replied.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.