Hot water



Andrew Diss’ opponent for County Commissioner in District 1 is Republican candidate Marsha Berkbigler, a longtime Nevada lobbyist, who was profiled on this page on April 19.

Andrew Diss, Democratic candidate for Washoe County Commissioner in District 1, hopes to remedy what he calls a “lack of action” on the County Commission. If elected, Diss said he’ll revitalize the stagnant commission with innovative ideas and a fresh perspective.

Diss said the shortcomings of the current Commission are exemplified by Ballot Question WC-1. The measure asks voters if the city of Reno and the unincorporated areas of Washoe County should be required to provide closest unit emergency response to fire and medical emergencies, regardless of jurisdiction.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Diss said. “We have to have automatic aid, it’s funny to me that the question is even on the ballot. The County Commission already has the authority to come to an agreement with the city of Reno for automatic aid. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been the political will for them to stand up, take care of it, and get that agreement done. It’s something the Commission should have done on their own.”

Diss said the Commission should have come to an agreement with the city of Reno long before the question went on the ballot. The Commission’s failure to reach an automatic aid agreement puts the residents of both Reno and Washoe County in danger and demonstrates the Commission’s lack of action on crucial public issues, he said.

But an automatic aid agreement may only be a temporary fix to a larger problem, Diss said. If elected, Diss said he will make complete regionalization of fire services his highest priority. And he’s bringing new ideas to the table about how to make the merge feasible.

“I’d like to see our fire department merge with REMSA and combine those services—that’s something I haven’t heard any other candidate talk about,” Diss said.

Also topping Diss’ to-do list as a prospective commissioner is an economic revival of Washoe County. He said the Commission should be doing everything in its power to attract more businesses to the area, which he hopes would put more Northern Nevadans back to work.

The key to encouraging economic progress could lie in renewable energy, Diss said. As Northern Nevada sits atop one of the biggest pockets of geothermal energy in North America, he said the region’s geothermal potential, combined with its abundance of wind and sunshine, create the perfect lure for renewable energy companies.

“One of the biggest tools that the Commission has at its disposal is through the form of giving tax abatements and sales tax exemptions to different companies that want to come here and start developing our renewable energy sources,” Diss said.

Diss said the Commission should be working harder to portray Northern Nevada as a hotbed of renewable energy potential. If the Commission can encourage the development of renewable energy in Washoe County, Diss said it will create much-needed competition in Nevada’s energy market.

“We have all these natural resources at our disposal and I think we need to be doing more to take advantage of them,” he said. “By fostering competition and getting more companies here, you’re going to have some competition with NV Energy and competition is going to drive down rates for everybody. It’s going to make our power bills cheaper.”

He said short-term jobs will emerge through the construction of renewable energy facilities and long-term jobs through the need for industry professionals in the renewable energy field.

Finally, Diss said that helping struggling Washoe County homeowners to renegotiate their mortgages would be one of his top priorities as commissioner.

“When you look at the biggest source of revenue for the county, it comes from property taxes,” he said. “Homes aren’t worth as much as they used to be and people are struggling just to make their payments. If we can offer them a little bit of help, we can do a lot to raise housing values and that will lead to more money for the county in general.”