View from the fray

They killed Jeffie

Half a dozen folks call me around noon Monday, babbling euphorically. “We hear that …” “3 o’clock!” “Griffin’s quitting.” “Not seeking re-election.”

Among the crowd of folks rubbing their hands delightedly are a few of those dubbed by city leaders as the “Citizens Against Virtually Everything,” a broad title that encompasses trench critics and even some non-downtown casino representatives who’ve questioned putting the city’s general fund on the line to finance the downtown events center.

I hadn’t been to City Hall for, oh, three days—not since Thursday, when the trench vote initiative signature-gatherers held a press conference to announce the whopping 15,000-plus signatures, nearly assuring that the trench issue would be put to a vote—even if the vote comes after the fact.

Who knows.

A bit after 3 p.m., Mayor Jeff, who’s already amassed a re-election campaign war chest of more than $100,000, arrives at the open mic on the second floor of City Hall. With him are his wife, Marna, and son, Josh. Quite a crowd of news folk, supporters and critics cluster around. Griffin begins with an acknowledgement that “this is a bit of a melodrama,” then offers a few words on “tremendous accomplishments” and throws in a plug for next week’s State of the City address.

“But let me cut to the chase,” Griffin says. “I’ve decided not to run for re-election as mayor … for two reasons.”

“Family…” a person nearby whispers.

“One is standing right here with me,” Griffin continues, “and that’s my family.”

But second, Griffin says, is that he’s been giving considerable thought on how to change the popular (or unpopular) perception (or misperception) equation.

“I personally have come to be bigger than the issues I advocate,” he says. “I’ve given considerable thought to what I can do to change that. … I decided I could either change the issues—change my mind on everything I’ve stood for—or remove myself as the lens through which people view these issues. … I decided that the latter is a better choice for me and for this city.”

Griffin tells reporters that he’s met with mayoral candidate Bob Cashell, a former lieutenant governor in Nevada. “He’s not a guy I know. But he is the only candidate that has advocated a vision for Reno’s future.”

Councilwoman Sherrie Doyle watches from the crowd’s edge.

“He’s right,” she says. “He has become bigger than the issues. This hasn’t been about ReTRAC or the downtown convention center. It’s been about him.”

Doyle, no stranger to conflict, says she wishes that the public had been allowed to see the side of a man who cares deeply about such issues as affordable housing. Griffin moves away from the mic. His adopted grandson, Jordan, latches on to the mayor’s leg. Griffin picks the toddler up.

"I always tell people that they should be allowed to see the side of Jeff that is a father and grandfather," Doyle says reflectively. "When you’re the mayor, it’s easy to lose touch. … Somewhere in there this wall comes up, and he becomes ‘mayor.' "