On the campaign trail with Brandi Anderson

Reno City Council Ward 2 candidate Brandi Anderson: www.brandianderson.com. Incumbent Sharon Zadra: www.sharonzadra.com.

Northwest Reno. Sunday afternoon. Reno City Council candidate Brandi Anderson, 35, walked a tree-lined street. She wore a white T-shirt, knee-length denim skirt and tennis shoes. On her clipboard was a list of voters’ names, ages and party affiliations.

Anderson approached Cheryl Stover’s home and rang the doorbell, smiling. Stover stepped out to chat. Anderson launched into her platform, apologizing for her hoarse voice. The working mother of two has been talking non-stop lately.

Anderson, married to a fireman, explained she’s running for city council because she wants taxpayer money spent on services—police and fire protection, public parks and pools. She doesn’t think taxes should be used to invest in downtown real estate.

“Reno City Council?” Stover asked. “You think you’re up for the challenge?”

Anderson assured Stover. “I’ve educated myself,” Anderson said. “I’ve had to follow the money. … We’re firing police officers and fire fighters, and we’re buying real estate and subsidizing developers. We build, build, build, and we’re not providing services for taxpayers.”

Another example: Money collected to maintain sewer infrastructure, Anderson said, isn’t being spent on sewer infrastructure.

“There’s no accountability,” Anderson said. “None.”

After a few more questions, Stover smiled. “You can save your voice,” Stover said. “You have my support. I’m impressed. I’m glad you came by.”

Anderson thanked her and walked off to the next house. Next to Stover’s name on her clipboard, she wrote, “Yes!”

“That was nice,” she said. “This is a great neighborhood.”

With sparse media attention for local races, door-to-door campaigning is crucial, said Chip Evans, chair of the Washoe Democratic Party.

“Making face-to-face contact is the single greatest element to getting voters to the polls and getting their votes for your candidate,” Evans said.

Evans, Anderson and about 25 supporters gathered at Raley’s on Mayberry for a Sunday of campaigning about a week before early voting. Anderson is challenging incumbent Sharon Zadra to represent Ward 2. The non-partisan election is city-wide. Reaching voters is expensive and time-consuming. Every volunteer counts.

“Thank you guys for coming out,” Anderson told the group, voice rasping. “This is amazing.”

Reno fireman Paul Patocka agreed change is needed in the city council.

“There needs to be financial responsibility,” he said. “We gave up the downtown fire station for the Aces stadium. Now we’re subsidizing the Freight House District while we’re downsizing Parks & Rec.”

Anderson’s dad, Rod Thomas, drove up in a truck with a large Brandi Anderson sign. A 37-year NV Energy employee now retired and facing reduced benefits, Thomas also knocks on doors for the AFL-CIO.

“My decision to run for council terrified him,” Anderson said. Now Dad’s her biggest supporter. “My dad defines the middle class.”

Novice campaigners received basic instructions and a printed script. If folks aren’t home, tuck fliers inside doors. Avoid conversations about Zadra’s direct mail suggesting that Anderson, as a fireman’s wife, would be conflicted about public safety.

Anderson’s prepared response (also on her website): “I have no intention of being ‘neutral’ on public safety. Ensuring the safety of Reno’s citizens is one of the city council’s most important jobs.”

Anderson, a marketing exec, said she doesn’t like marketing herself.

“I don’t like seeing my face everywhere,” she said. “But I want to do the work. I want to be an advocate for families—and for seniors. They’ve been paying taxes the longest and they have the least.”

As she spoke, her 4-year-old son Easton played on a scooter and Cooper, 6, stood at her side, rocking on his toes. She leaned down. He whispered in her ear.

“You’re going to have fun, honey,” she told him. “Don’t worry.”