Been there, got the sticker

A chat with the 110th person to vote at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral.

Though he’s a registered Democrat, Guy Zewadski, 54, considers himself more of a “blue-dog libertarian” at heart. When he headed into St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in downtown Reno, he had but one question for the volunteer manning Precinct 518:

“Can I get a sample ballot? I lost mine, and I need to look it over for a minute before I vote.”

Helpful poll worker Elizabeth Ann Hutchinson got him a sample ballot, and he turned it over in dismay.

“I thought there’d be more on it,” he said.

But the referendum questions aren’t on the ballot until November. And the choices for a Democrat in Reno are just slightly more numerous than those of a registered non-partisan like myself.

As a non-partisan voting in Sparks, the only item on my own ballot was “Washoe County Sheriff.” Since two of the four candidates are either 1) not actually running for office or 2) a bit underqualified—you figure it out who is which, it was evident Tuesday that Sheriff Dennis Balaam and challenger William “Bill” Bowen would go on to the general election no matter how I voted. I did get an “I voted” sticker to wear proudly all day long. That was neat.

Zewadski came to the polls dressed casually in jeans and a polo shirt with a logo that reads: “Technology: It’s no place for wimps.” The Union Pacific railroad engineer got off work at 6 a.m. and went home to take a nap before heading out to vote at about 2 p.m. When he fed his ballot to the big, black vote-counting box, Zewadski was the 110th person to be counted in the two precincts voting at the cathedral.

The biggest issue, by far, facing the city of Reno, Zewadski said, is the trench.

“I’m not 100 percent anti-trench,” he told me, after voting and walking past the “No campaigning past this point” sign. “I am upset with the city for imposing a special assessment on properties downtown to raise money for it.”

Though he’s tried to stay out of the fracas over the trench, he does have some opinions regarding issues like the number of trains through downtown Reno. He said these estimates may have been exaggerated by trench proponents. Because only a single track goes through Reno, there’s a limit to how many trains can go through before trains reach gridlock. Union Pacific is working on a solution, though, something called directional running that would allow trains to go one way through Reno. Trains going in the opposite direction would go the Feather River route. Zewadski recommended that I read more about directional running by searching for the term at Union Pacific’s Web site,

A woman in pink shorts walked up, looking slightly confused.

“Is this where I vote?” she asked us, and we nodded.

Inside St. Thomas Aquinas, poll worker Hutchinson said that the business of democracy had been going a bit slow.

“I can understand why people aren’t going to vote,” she said. “There are not that many choices. It’s much more interesting in November.”

Hutchinson predicted that things would pick up after voters get off work in the late afternoon.

"Hopefully it’ll get busier," she said. "Hopefully."