Salcido v. Brekhus

Council contenders ponder city’s future

Reno City Council races are non-partisan. Think of it this way: there’s not a Republican or Democrat-specific ideology for trash removal. However, that isn’t to say that there are not politics involved, and the two major political parties do sometimes take a hand.

A council seat has a four-year term. The council is responsible for approving and adopting the city budget, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.

Also important to note, these are citywide elections, meaning voters in all wards choose Ward One’s councilmember.

The Ward One race between incumbent Jenny Brekhus and immigration lawyer Victor Salcido is a particularly interesting one.

“In 2012, when I came on, I spent the first 18 months not sure we weren’t going to go into some sort of insolvency,” said Brekhus, mentioning “creative management of cashflow” from the city. But Brekhus’s term was witness to the upturn of the national economy after the Great Recession, an upturn that benefitted Reno’s economy, too.

“With this being Nevada, the boom or bust cycle is in our DNA, and we quickly went onto the trajectory of growth,” she said. “[Managing city growth] is an area I’ve been focused on my whole professional career—now in my third decade.” Brekhus worked previously for the cities of Albuquerque and Silver City, New Mexico.

Among the successes of the city during her term was the reduction of over $110 million dollars of city debt. Brekhus also participated in Phase I of the Reimagine Reno 20-year Master Plan that stands as the basis of investments and policy for the future.

“The challenge for Reno is to keep that small-town feeling that we enjoy and that our existing neighborhoods don’t get lost in suburban sprawl,” she said. According to Brekhus 30,000 single-family residential units are currently approved in the city of Reno, but there is only the demand for approximately 10,000 single family units.

Her goal in the next phase of the master plan—which would fall in her next term as councilmember—is to balance consumer demand and consumer preference regarding the types of neighborhoods Reno maintains and develops.

“I think the master plan is a good example of what the City Council should be doing,” said Brekus’s opponent, Victor Salcido. He likens the position to a business board of directors that provides the vision and long-term planning with the responsibility of execution in the hands of the city staff. “I come from a business background so it makes sense to me to put it in those terms.”

Addressing public safety, cleaning up downtown and accentuating Reno as a college town, Salcido is promoting what he calls “a new economy.”

“We have companies and entrepreneurs who are disrupting traditional business models,” he said. “They are developing these businesses that don’t clearly fit into a box—they operate in a gray area, and they do that because there’s a business advantage for doing so.” His website references AirBnB and Uber, and it shows a picture of a drone carrying a box. His goal is make the economy better suited to catalyze more non-traditional local businesses.

Salcido, 33, received a law degree from the University of Arizona. He worked as deputy legislative counsel at the Nevada Legislature in Carson City before moving to Reno to open his own law practice.

“I think that one of the things that sometimes concerns people—or is used to attack me—is my youth, but I think that is an enormous advantage,” Salcido said.

Brekus said she does not know much about her competitor. “I haven’t had a lot of interaction with him, so I can’t speak to what his differences are,” she said.