A senate bill up for discussion today would remove the city of Reno’s prior plan to get rid of the at-large council member seat and instead replace it with a new sixth ward council seat.
The city’s change to remove the sixth ward – and keep the at-large council seat held now by Devon Reese – is receiving opposition online and at the legislature.
A member of the city’s Charter Committee, who spoke last year about other parts of the city’s senate bill 12, is also opposed to it – even provisions the committee recommended.
Edward Coleman, a member of the city’s charter committee, said there were discussions among charter committee members about the bill.
“Between those meetings, people who had opposed removing the 6th ward changed to support removing the 6th ward,” he said.
Other provisions of the bill would encourage the city to advance green infrastructure projects and replace gendered language with gender-neutral language.
The proposed change to keep the at-large council seat would be effective Jan. 1, 2024.
Coleman, however, is opposed to keeping the at-large council seat and would prefer the entire bill – including recommendations to remove gendered language, among other things – be killed.
“The language [change], while important, does not materially improve people’s lives, and I’m not sure there is the will to align with the green spaces portion in any serious way under the current city council,” Coleman told This Is Reno.
Coleman further said the arguments by the city to reverse the creation of a sixth ward are nonsensical.
“I am against it being removed,” he said, “specifically because none of the arguments advanced made logical sense. For example, reducing the number of wards, and representatives somehow increases access, it was good for diversity and alot of other nonsense that did not agree with math.”
Despite the law not yet considered, or passed, by the legislature, Reese recently announced he was running for reelection anyway. He lives in ward five.
Former Reno mayor candidate William Mantle also said he’s opposed to the city keeping the at-large council seat. He said he supports the gender language change and green infrastructure provisions of the bill.
But he called the ward six removal highly problematic.
“Repealing the creation of the sixth ward completely upends and subverts the public process that has been considered, presented and voted on by the people (and the Reno Charter Committee),” he told This Is Reno. “What we are experiencing is at least four councilors deciding for the City that it doesn’t need, want or merit a sixth ward even though the purpose of a sixth ward is to provide greater representation for a growing population that has been planned for at least six years.
“The City increasingly been criticized for becoming less public-facing and less democratic for its operation like purchasing the Space Whale (which was to be a rotating art installation), implementation of Block Chain for the Historic Register, the Micro Mobility Study and Center Street Cycle track, and too much concerning Jacob’s Entertainment,” he added. “I can hope that this section of the bill is seen as the undemocratic usurpation of the people’s will that it is and is removed from consideration, and I would then look forward to a new ward and what that means for so many people in Reno.”
The bill will be heard today at 3:30 in the senate’s government affairs committee meeting.
Opinions submitted on the bill are overwhelmingly against the measure, with 91% in opposition. One person indicated support for the bill. Another was neutral.