The city of Reno’s charter bill will not advance in the legislature. That’s according to a city staff member who said there was no political will in Carson City to see the bill pass.
That means the at-large council member seat will go away and the city will begin redistricting its wards to include a long-anticipated sixth council seat.
The bill was controversial, however, with members of the city’s own charter committee saying they would rather see the bill fail at this year’s legislative session rather than the bill’s other provisions passing.
Mayor Hillary Schieve blasted ward-only voting at Wednesday’s council meeting after it was announced the charter bill would not advance in Carson City.
“It’s truly politics at play,” she said.
Legislator Skip Daly, after Schieve spoke last month in Carson City about why she said she believed the city should reverse course on a sixth ward and keep the council’s at-large seat, disagreed with Schieve.
“A lot of people want to have their individual representative, and we fought long and hard to get ward-only voting,” he said.
Schieve, prior to becoming mayor, was the at-large representative and said her experience as both mayor and on the council informed her position. She said ward-only voting leads to council members only representing their wards and not the city as a whole.
“I often hear, ‘not my ward, not my problem,’” she said. “That’s what sort of happens and why downtown looks the way it does. Now you will have only one person who cares about the entire city, and that’s your mayor. I think it’s wrong.”
She said only the at-large member can also represent the city as a whole, and without the at-large seat, council members will engage in what she called tribalism.
Council member Meghan Ebert disagreed with Schieve.
“I don’t feel like I have additional support with an at-large member,” she said. “I speak up for my ward, and to date I’ve largely been overruled by this body, and I’ve not received support from the at-large member.”
The at-large council member, Devon Reese, is already fundraising for his re-election. After Schieve’s comments, he criticized Council member Jenny Brekhus and accused her of “political theater.”
City Manager Doug Thornley said city staff will begin the redistricting process in the near future.