I believe voters deserve transparency. For years, I have shared openly a challenging chapter of my life and, as a candidate to be your Assessor, I owe it to you to share it again — I once experienced a business and personal bankruptcy.
The short version is, my livelihood was in real estate when the market crashed in the 2007-2010 Great Recession. Many of us experienced financial hardships during that time, including layoffs, bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions, and worse. Trust me, I was right there with you.
Here’s the long version. Following successful high-tech careers, my wife, Laynette, and I launched a real estate investment venture in Reno in 2002. It got off to a great start, and we eventually brought in friends and family members to make loans for short-term projects. For years, it provided generous returns to our project sponsors.
When the real estate market crashed in 2007 and financial hardship fell upon so many of us Nevadans, the value of our real estate business collapsed as well. We had the option to bankrupt the business and leave our partners behind. Instead, we chose to sustain the business and protect sponsors as long as we could using our personal funds.
We hoped the market downturn would be brief and limited. It wasn’t. After draining our retirement accounts and our kids’ college funds, we lost our home to foreclosure. We moved to a one-bedroom apartment and filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Several years later, Laynette’s parents generously gifted us cash to buy a townhouse.
Reflecting on our experience a decade after the real estate crash, we still believe attempting to protect our project sponsors was the right thing to do. While as parents we regret that our children were caught up in our financial struggles, we have watched with pride and amazement as they grew to be more resilient, resourceful and grateful.
Laynette and I remind ourselves often that we are not what we own and that people are more important than money and possessions. Like many Nevadans, we know what it feels like to dread answering a bill collector’s phone call and worry about putting food on the table.
So, as these events get the expected negative political spin, you now know the real story. If you have questions, please ask.
I know how important your home is because I’ve lost one. I will bring what I have learned from these challenges, as well as my vast professional and management experience, to my role as your County Assessor.
Chip Evans is a candidate for Washoe County Assessor. He was elected the 2016 Democratic nominee for northern Nevada’s Second Congressional District and is active with Progressive Democrats of America.