*Candidate responses were not modified or altered.
Q1. The resurgence of Black Lives Matter has shined a spotlight on the failure of police departments throughout the country to truly ensure public safety. What would you do to address policing concerns impacting the black and immigrant communities and reimagine public safety in our community?
Q2. In addition to policing, how would you address racial injustice in education, housing, and social services?
Q3. COVID-19 has devastated local budgets. What would you do to address budget shortfalls?
Q4. COVID-19 has further worsened an already severe housing crisis in Nevada. How would you address housing security issues?
Q5. In light of the continued gentrification of the 4th Street corridor, what would be your plan to handle the needs of the low-income and unsheltered residents currently being served in that area?
Q6. Washoe County Successfully passed an Affordable Housing Trust Fund Last year, but failed to pass a proposed Government Services Tax in order to fund it. How will you work on increasing funding for affordable housing while serving on the City Council?
A1. 1) Ensure that we follow responsible regional growth management patterns so that police patrol areas are not stretched too thin. When police officers have too many calls to respond to covering a spread out geographic area, errors and fatigue can set in; 2) The Reno Police Departments was last comprehensively audited in 1999. I have called annually for a new audit to help understand more fully from outside experts best practice reform and department improvements; 3) I believe that investigations of Officer Involved Shootings should be examined by a party other than a sister Washoe County law enforcement agency; 4) I will work to implement the recommendations of the Reno workman’s compensation audit if some are made related to officer PTSD claims; 5) I will reiterate the continued support I’ve made in the Reno federal platform for DACA/DREAMERS; 6) As Civil Service liaison, I will continue to advocate that this independent body work to identify implicit bias hiring and promotion pitfalls, and efforts to increase recruitment of people with diverse backgrounds, into the academy.
A2. While the education system in not under the control of the City of Reno and housing and social services are governed by fair housing and other laws, I believe it is incumbent upon all elected leaders to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism. In specific instances of racist public policy, it is critical to point out paths away from that injustice be it related to land use regulations, unequal allocation of public investment or business opportunities.
A3. See above, in addition I have identified that a portion of the countywide lodger’s tax that is in effect be reassigned to Reno’s general fund rather than for the so-called economic development purpose of marketing the region to tourists.
A4. I sponsored the Reno Tenants Issues and Concerns Advisory Board to examine the rental market and to develop proposals for policy and regulatory change. I am awaiting their suggestions. The other side of housing affordability is wages. I do not support the continued recruitment of businesses to our region (often with subsidies), that involve low income wages. I support increased federal support for housing subsidy and locally, the removal of regulatory barriers in land use codes and elsewhere that prevent the production of housing which is the most affordable.
A5. I support humane interim housing options including sheltering within unused tourism facilities like the Reno Events Center, until permanent housing is available to the unsheltered. I support street teams of social workers rather than directing unsheltered and substandard housed people to service referral locations like the Community Assistance Center. These people need to be met where they are.
A6. I have identified and the Reno City Council accepted on August 26, a decision to enact a resolution encouraging Washoe County to utilize the Government Services Tax for services to the unsheltered and housing needs. If Washoe County does not exercise this, the Reno City Council will ask the legislature for it to be assigned to the City so that we can increase services to struggling populations.
A1. I do not support defunding the police, our law enforcement have the most dangerous job in the community and deserve our support. I do believe in finding ways to enhance how our police can better serve all of our citizens. We should consider limiting the calls they arrive at and support social programs that fill that gap, most importantly people with mental health issues and non-violent emergencies. We should enhance training that focuses on de-escalation and safe ways to detain citizens who may be violent. I do not believe our local law enforcement should handle issues with our undocumented citizens. I believe that if you have a gun and a badge that our community should hold you to the highest standards but I will not turn my back on them in the process.
A2. I strongly support initiatives that focus on building and preserving diverse housing segments for our low income individuals, which include, transitional and permanent supportive housing, and enhanced shelter services. I also support diverse housing segments in affluent neighborhoods where we have higher rated schools and more resources. We need more legal services to help our undocumented citizens process their citizenship.
A3. I would focus on pay cuts over layoffs but much of this comes down to negotiating with our unions. We need to find ways to safely re-open our entire business community as we lean heavily on sales tax for our revenue.
A4. When I’m your councilman my first proposal will be to recruit and hire a national grant writer. The city of Reno once had this position but was lost due to the last recession. NV is a donor state, which means we give more in federal taxes than we receive back into our community. This grant writer will be focused on acquiring federal and non-local private funding aimed at financing and preserving low income housing solutions.
A5. We need stronger shelter services, more transitional living options and permanent supportive housing which will serve our disabled, our veterans and elderly. We must also strategize on how to provide more mental health services and substance abuse centers. Much of our lower income and houseless residents suffer from these issues and in order to be independent they need to overcome these obstacles.
A6. I will look to collaborate with our entire region and state to solve this problem during the budget crisis and I will also lean on the grant writer as proposed.
Q1. What are your top 2 priorities for Reno?
Q2. How would you increase local funding and incentives to develop affordable housing for low and middle-income communities?
Q3. How would you address the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color due to gentrification?
Q4. How would you support the growing number of renters in our community?
Q5. How would you create a welcoming and supportive community for immigrants and their families?
A1. 1) The fiscal sustainability of Reno government to provide essential public services and quality of life amenities 2) The equitable allocation of city resources and public infrastructure investment across our city particular to neighborhoods where our most vulnerable populations reside.
A2. As this response is drafted it is March 23 and the federal government is at work on a stimulus package to bring needed assistance to state and local governments. Prior to being elected to the Council, I worked on federal stimulus programs related to affordable housing production and housing assistance during the Great Recession within in state government. I understand how these programs work and will work to effectively leverage federal resources with local ones. I championed an Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance in my prior term that would have by my estimate created over 200 units the first year. These units are smaller and thus more affordable. I advocate for a sewer connection fee structure that favors infill (implementation in progress) and the elimination of transportation impact fees in infill settings also. These efforts will reduce production costs. I oppose subsidies to housing developers that do not include affordability requirements. For these reasons I opposed the City’s 1000 Homes in 1000 Days program because it did not require those who received the subsidy to construct restricted affordable units.
A3. I have addressed displacement by calling out the Jacobs Entertainment group for their actions that may be the most significant displacement effort in modern Reno history. In exercising their property rights Jacobs demolished over 300 units on approximately 24 acres of land, without turning over a shovel to construct a new residential unit. These were motel units were the housing most attainable for struggling households. Councilmembers have amplified voices.
These voices should be used judiciously to both celebrate those who are doing good things in our community but also on occasion, call out those who are hurting others and I have done that. One key to minimizing displacement is to focus on older neighborhoods uniformly with public investment and services, so that one neighborhood does not become the “hot” neighborhood attracting influxes of capital. This allows all neighborhoods a chance to be on a level footing and equally attractive for existing residents. This also requires new community’s that are built on the perimeter to have the design features that older neighborhoods and districts inclined to gentrification have, rather than be monolithic auto-oriented residential subdivisions. These concepts are in the Reno Master Plan that I put forth in my first term as something that needs to be done and I am pledged to faithful implementation of that plan.
A4. I have supported our community’s renter population by bringing an initiative to the Council of forming a Tenant’s Issues and Concerns Advisory Board. This Board is tasked with examining all facets of the tenant experience and recommending to the Council by the end of 2020, any measures to assist our households carrying an economic burden including but not limited to anti-rent gouging policies and regulations. I also advocated during the March 2020 economic crisis, a stay on evictions as a necessity to economic circumstance and public health (so ordered by Reno Justice Court).
A5. I supported the City’s Welcoming City position. When I arrived on Council in 2012, the City’s federal platform that is a statement of positions to those who represent us in D.C. was silent about immigration issues. I spearheaded the revision of this platform that in multiple iterations supports comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenry and the DACA/DREAMER programs.
A1. I look forward to immediately addressing the current homeless and housing affordability issues.
A2. As part of our regional planning process, we need to consider all types of housing and how much of each is offered. We have to modify our mindset and process in order to negotiate with our builders to build attainable housing. We need to be proactive as to what projects are being presented and considered for development. In order to gain leverage in these discussions, we need to first look at the process of how our city handles building project approvals. This process is known for taking too long from “concept to close” which increases the holding costs of the builder and is then added to the bottom line of the home once ready for sale. We can better streamline fees that accompany a building project. Some of these fees are important depending on the location of the project but these can be deferred or even waived, and some of these fees are not necessary. Anything that makes a project more costly will directly fall on to the buyer of the home. The City of Reno and it’s elected officials must be efficient, decisive and creative in order to actually produce a reasonably priced home, this takes leadership.
A3. We have to continue to find ways to provide attainable housing in our Urban areas and leverage the popularity of Opportunity Zones. There are strong Federal Tax incentives being offered to private entities that choose to build and invest in areas near the downtown core and areas that are in need of capital investment. We have to be exclusive about what is being built and if that project meets the needs of our low income individuals in those areas. We also must be aware of the impact of our growth in our elderly community. They are on fixed incomes and any increase in cost of living can affect them more than most demographics. They must be heavily considered in our regional planning.
A4. We have to strive to increase our supply of all levels of housing; apartments/condos, single family and multi-family. The more options a renter has the better it is for the entire community. We must also be proactive in creating rentals at or below market rate which can be achieved in larger apartment projects. Also, building these projects with attainable rental rates can support socio-economic diversity amongst our higher rated schools. It’s also important that our residential realtors and lenders continue to educate our renter’s about first-time home buyer incentives. Shifting our renters into homeownership offers another solution.
A5. Our undocumented citizens need more robust legal services and information about their rights in our city. There are multiple programs to help our undocumented citizens if they will trust the system. Currently our police are doing a great job with our non-violent and non-criminal undocumented citizens as they are being helpful and compassionate in their interactions. I witnessed first hand at the Immigration Forum many undocumented citizens express their gratitude towards our police. We must also support our police in their jobs of protecting all of our citizens by enforcing our local laws and in their pursuit of any criminals.
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