A half-dozen mayoral hopefuls came out to the downtown Reno library last night to discuss their candidacy and some of Reno’s most pressing issues.
In attendance were Reno City Council member Jenny Brekhus, William Mantle, Jesse Razo, Joaquin Roces, Judi Rought and Tabitha Schneider.
The forum was set up for candidates to focus on their platforms and themselves.
But Brekhus early on blasted incumbent Mayor Hillary Schieve, who was a no-show, for what she said was chronically approving policies that favor her close friend and developer lobbyist Jessica Sferrazza.
She said a vote for Schieve would be a vote for policies that favor developers over citizens. She also questioned Schieve’s ethics.
“We are all up here to make the case why the incumbent should not be rehired,” she said. “She was admonished by the [Nevada] Ethics Commission this year for using city resources for personal business. That is not good.”
A copy of the ethics document shows Schieve in January was told, “in lieu of an investigation,” to “properly separate her private interests from public duties, especially on matters regarding utilizing City of Reno resources such as City staff for personal matters.”
The candidates explained why they believe they would be best for the mayor’s seat.
Candidate Jesse Razo said he has about 25 years of building in Reno as a union member.
“As a result of being out in the field, we have a good eye as to how our taxpayer money is being spent,” he said. “I came [to Reno] as a dreamer.”
Jaoquin Roces, a military veteran, touted his experience in numerous positions. He’s a peer-support recovering specialist of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Roces said he is qualified to be mayor due to wide-ranging experience, which includes living at the Nevada Cares Campus because he was unable to afford massive rent increases.
“We are in a housing crisis,” he said. “When I lost my housing in September of 2021, because my rent went from $900 to $1,400 for a two-bedroom, I ended up staying at the Cares Campus for a month and a half until I could find housing that I could afford. I was working full time.”
The Cares Campus is Reno’s massive homeless shelter.
All candidates said something needs to be done about the region’s housing affordability crisis. Most suggested some form of rent control.
Tabitha Schneider is a local business owner who moved to Reno in 2006.
“We have a housing crisis here,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of other things work in other cities that we are not implementing here in Reno.”
She cited accessory dwelling units as the example.
Judi Rought said she was born and raised in Reno but moved and then returned in 2020. She said she was shocked at the increase in housing prices.
“I have been absolutely appalled by [the] huge jump [in prices],” she said. She suggested a cap on how much a landlord can increase rents when renewing leases.
“I want to see a cap on lease renewals,” Rought added. She also said that affordable housing should be mandated with each new development.
William Mantle, who ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2018, said the city is in a dire position, and City Hall leaders have failed to address major issues.
“Right outside of this wonderful library, there are people who are roughing it – people sleeping every day on those streets, and those numbers have doubled in the last year,” he said. “The affordability crisis has skyrocketed.”
Incumbent Schieve, despite confirming her attendance, canceled at the last minute. She implied she was not feeling well but was today out celebrating with local police.
Other candidates did not respond to invitations to participate in the forum.
The forum, hosted by This Is Reno, was sponsored by the Washoe County Library System, EDAWN and Tom Clark Solutions with KWNK Community Radio and Noticiero Movil as media partners. Media personality Connie Wray-Gaudard moderated the forum.
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.