An indecent proposal

No person may be elected to any state office or local governing body who has served in that office, or at the expiration of his current term if he is so serving will have served, 12 years or more, unless the permissible number of terms or duration of service is otherwise specified in this Constitution. —Nevada Constitution

We’d like to see a few of our most concerned citizens bare it all.

The whole world is transfixed by our asinine Republican presidential caucuses. Fine, they’re a great distraction from local, real world politics. But we’re here to tell you, we’re going to have a local election cycle that has never been seen in the history of Reno and Washoe County. Hold onto your hats, folks.

The term limits are finally in full effect, and many people who’ve had a chokehold on how this city and county ran for the last 12 years-plus will not be running for their same “local governing bodies.” Incumbents are a dying breed in these local governing bodies, so people who are running for office are starting from a more level field. Of course, rich people’s playing fields are more level than other people’s.

Not even the mayor’s position, which doesn’t come up for two years, is going to go to one of the current members of the council, since the Reno mayor essentially performs the same duties of voting as the other councilmembers. At least, that seems to be the opinion of the Nevada legal community as expressed in the relevant Attorney General Opinion No. 96-23, which can be read at Funny, because we were kind of thinking Dwight Dortch looked a bit mayoral.

So let us put this gently: If you ever thought you could run things better than those “ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances” down at City Hall, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

Sam Dehne, this means you. Willie Puchert, it’s time to put up or shut up.

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, just that it’s possible in ways it hasn’t been for decades. And don’t be surprised if it becomes less and less possible with every election that passes. Term limits aren’t the solution that so many Sagebrush Rebel-types thought they were. But for the moment, the iron is hot.

Now, here’s the problem. There are only two reasons to run for these local governing bodies: Out of honest desire to serve our community, or to air the dirty laundry of the last 20 years. Because there’s little money, and little money means not much power but a lot of headaches. Many of the fun parts of those elected offices are gone.

But everyone who ever had an ax to grind against seated members of the Council or the Commission, people who couldn’t figure out why certain votes went against citizens’ will, where the money for sewers and road improvements and police and fire went, why we were buying train trenches and subsidizing baseball stadiums, what happened to redevelopment funds, blah, blah, blah, well, there’s going to be a line down East First Street comprised of everyone with a story—real or imagined.

Here’s the indecent part. It’ll be the next “local governing bodies” who’ll get the blame for all those things that are going to be exposed by the next Reno/Washoe County administrations. It’s a no-win situation for candidates.

So, if you really want to help Northern Nevada, and you have a bit of a martyr complex, here’s your shot. Run for office.