The Washoe County Democratic Party wasted little time after the March 16 filing deadline for running for office. Five days later, a meeting was held at party headquarters on Terminal Way to allow Democratic City Council candidates to meet with habitual volunteers, organizers, fund raisers and so on.
About 30 people with experience in gathering signatures on petitions, walking precincts, placing yard signs and other tasks sat in the audience and sized up the candidates who appeared on the panel—Jenny Brekhus, Oscar Delgado, Kitty Jung, Scott Kelley, Dennis Romeo, Michael Trudell and David Ward.
While city offices are non-partisan, in the sense that the candidates’ political party is not listed on the ballot, the parties have long supported their municipal candidates. There’s nothing improper about this as long as there’s a First Amendment, but there is some sensitivity about it.
For candidates running for the first time, the evening gave them a sense of what lies ahead in the next 11 weeks or—for those who survive the primary—the next 32 weeks. “I hope you are ready to be five places at once,” Jung, a Washoe County Commissioner running for the Reno City Council, told the newcomers to elective politics. Jung herself had more than one appearance to make during the evening. She spoke, took questions, then raced off to the next meeting.
Candidate Scott Kelley and his wife both had things to do during the evening, so he brought their toddler son along to the Democratic meeting. The boy was very well behaved, but asking him to stay for the whole meeting would have been a bit much, so Kelley, too, had to leave early.
One city council candidate was in the audience instead of in the panel of candidates at the front. Julia Ratti is running unopposed for reelection to the Sparks City Council. She was introduced and said, “I did not draw an opponent. … I will not be asking you for money.” That drew a laugh.
Another dignitary in the audience, Justice of the Peace Patricia Lynch, was also introduced and said she did have an opponent and would be looking for volunteers.
Some of the candidates have run for office before and already know the routine. Ward was a U.S. House candidate, Trudell ran for the County Commission, Jung was appointed a county commissioner by Gov. Jim Gibbons and was then elected to a full term, Kelley is a member of the county school board.
Each City Council candidate spoke and then took questions from the audience members, who wanted a sense of what candidates were in tune with their views. Jung, for instance, was asked about city recycling services.
Before and after the meeting, the candidates were able to recruit. Some of the audience members told Trudell they would attend his campaign kickoff party three days later. Dennis Romeo got a couple of volunteers. After a few other political alliances were established, the crowd drifted out into Campaign 2012.