By Don Dike-Anukam
This week I bring the focus back home to Reno and talk to Eddie Lorton, candidate for Mayor of the City of Reno. Eddie was kind enough to let me meet him at his home in south Reno to talk about the issue he’s passionate about and his candidacy.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, the Lorton’s family moved to Reno while he was an infant and he’s spent the rest of his 55 years in town. In that time he has owned ET Carpet Cleaning for more than three decades and also worked in a variety of businesses including real estate, auctions, and day trading.
Lorton’s business interests are what led him into politics more than 25 years ago. At 28 he purchased a warehouse on Fourth Street in downtown Reno because it was in a redevelopment area and anticipated a good return on investment. He was assured that at the time of his purchase that no shelters, strip clubs, or other businesses that could drive down property values would be located there. However, Lorton says the City reneged on their assurances, allowing for both strip clubs and the homeless shelter into the area.
“I was forced to…protect my investments and that’s a sad state,” Lorton said. “You elect these people and they’re supposed to look out for you, not their special interest groups and friends. What we see, even to this day, this city of Reno has been fleeced for over 30 years and it’s time to make our city the shining little city on the hillside once again.
“If you are aware and you read the news outlets, there’s a lot of dysfunction [at City Hall],” Lorton added. “It’s worse than it’s ever been and so they need somebody strong that knows about business, that has a big heart, that actually represents the public and not just special interest groups and friends non-stop.”
Another point that Lorton added was that he’d be an accessible representative if elected. “The current mayor – she never returns phone calls! I’ll guarantee you one thing I’ll be returning every single call by the end of the day,” Lorton said.
Lorton touched on his success and experience in finance and business as assets he would draw on to manage the city and prioritize Reno’s fiscal issues and problems. He noted Reno’s $400 million in outstanding debt concerns on bonds, taxes, retirement obligations, and operational costs and suggested proposals to balance the long-term city budget deficit by selling unused property and encouraging sustainable and affordable housing in Reno.
He also indicated that his administration wouldn’t stray into hot-button social concerns and controversies, but rather stick to “core city issues” including police, fire, and public works. He’d like to re-open some fire stations, like the one near his home, and build a new police station.
Touting his ability to be a good watchdog on City Council matters, he talked about challenging recent Open Meeting Law violations and what he calls corruption at City Hall based on cozy relations between councilmembers and local developers.
“The city, they violated the open meeting [law] numerous times. I proved it at the Park Lane Mall project. We’re subsidizing Jessica Sferrazza’s clients [with] $3.6 million on storm drains,” Lorton said. “NRS.270.B clearly states that money out of your Sewer Fund can only be used on increasing sewer capacity, not storm drains. They broke the law [and] didn’t put it on the agenda correctly. It was an open meeting law violation but Adam Laxalt gave (the city) a couple of instructions for the future but then did not make them rehear it at a council meeting.
“We’ve had corruption for over 30 years in the city but I think it’s an all-time high,” Lorton said as he discussed the friendship between Mayor Schieve and local lobbyist and former coucilmember and mayoral candidate Jessica Sferrazza. “[Schieve] has voted with every one of Jessica’s projects a 100 percent ratio. I don’t want to draw conclusions but I think they’ve turned this city and their personal piggy bank.”
I asked the big question of the morning, “Why should I vote for Eddie Lorton?”
“Well, we’ve given youthful enthusiasm a chance. Now it’s time for a strong, experienced hand,” Lorton emphasized.
Here’s a look at what Lorton had to say on a number of other issues Reno is facing:
On homelessness in the city:
“This is terrible. We’re stuck with a glut of the homeless. I’ve said that the county’s a thousand percent responsible for the homeless shelter and I’ll back that by the law anytime and challenge anybody to show me differently…You know what I say, is send a demand letter and let’s litigate baby. let’s make those responsible pay for the issue. Why are we taking it on? We’re over $28 million into this homeless shelter and they want to build another one when we need a police station. Why do they keep making these messes that we have to clean up late? It’s one bad decision after another and we’re stuck with a mess.”
“All they care about is Midtown and downtown. Reno is so much more than Midtown and downtown…I want to turn the lights on in our city and be able to go forward, raise our head, clean up our downtown but not forget Reno is so much more…Right now our window is open [with] lots of opportunity coming through our city and I want to thank personally Roger Norman from USA Parkway and Lance Gilman…They’ve done a lot for our city, and now, through that, the opportunities are here and the window is open.”
On his frequent public comments at city council meetings:
“Because I care. I have time and I make time. I haven’t gotten paid a dime in 20-some years of trying to do this, to make the most out of my investments [by] going to the city meetings, doing all these functions, running for mayor. I’ve shoveled money out of my own pocket because I think one day it’ll make a difference if I’m fortunate enough to get in there.”
On his role in public life and government:
“When our Founding Fathers went into to government their idea of government was you go you contribute, leave it a better place than when you first got there. It’s not meant to be a career and spend your life there! Get a job, make it in the real world. Go on and do something you know. These are the things that make me do what I do.”
Lorton is confident that this year will have more favorable outcome in his race. He hopes that he will be able to “hold City Hall accountable.” And keeping to his promise of being accessible to the public he asked to share out his phone number: 775-741-4323. If you have more questions, want to get involved, or want to meet Eddie Lorton visit: https://eddielorton.com/
CORRECTION: Jessica Sferrazza was previously mentioned as “former mayor.” She was actually a former mayoral candidate and city councilmember.
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches. In his free time Don enjoys running, reading, and watching political news/events. (What did you expect from a political geek?)