Friday, October 17, 2014

Voter Guide 2014 - Reno Offices

Voting by Ken Zirkel is licensed CC BY 2.0
Having previously touched on the three statewide questions, it's now time to look at the candidates. The higher ticket ones (Governor, Congress, etc.) are pretty well known and pretty well covered elsewhere; that's not to say I won't reveal who I'm going to vote for over the next couple of days, but the coverage of the local, down-ticket races in Reno is absolutely abysmal. So, I'm going to start at the back of my sample ballot and work my way up.

See a problem, solve a problem.

Reno Municipal Court Judge
Department 1

My vote: Drakulich, Gene S

Gene's the only person on the ballot for this position and "None of the above" isn't an option. I have nothing to add to this.

Reno City Attorney

My vote: Brett Kandt

Karl Hall is a longtime former Washoe County Chief Deputy District Attorney running on a his experience. Brett Kandt, meanwhile, is focused more on holding the city accountable, though, when interviewed by the RGJ, he also pushed harder on law and order. Considering how Karl's already collecting a county retirement pension and considering how Reno really needs a City Attorney that's willing to hold the City Council accountable, Brett looks like the better choice here.

Reno City Council
Ward 2

My vote: Naomi Duerr

I'm not going to lie, when reading Elisa Cafferata's web site, listening to her RGJ interview, and looking at her background, my first instinct is to avoid her, which is unfortunate because it's not because I'm particularly offended by her stances - she's just signaling she's in a different outgroup than I am. Elisa Cafferata is passionate about the budding tech startup scene here, along with "smart growth" and small business; in this respect, among several others, she has quite a bit in common with Hillary Schieve. In short, she's a textbook example of Slate Star Codex's Blue Tribe (I'm linking this twice because it's a really good article - go read it).

Unfortunately, I'm a Grey.

Looking past the signaling to Blue Tribe (Smart government! Support local arts! Build a community of neighborhoods! Other stuff white people like!), she's actually a pretty good example of an evolved liberal. Liberals (or Progressives, or whatever you wish to call them or be called) have a common goal - make the world a better place (yes, Conservatives, really), and the way they usually try to make the world a better place is by taking the newest model of organization and thought that's in vogue at the time and applying it to the world. The Founding Fathers were liberals - they wanted to apply Enlightenment-era philosophy to government, which were relatively new and untried at the time, and gave themselves a chance to do so. Later, old-school Socialists (or even Communists) wanted to apply the efficiency of the factory floor, a recent innovation at the time, to government - unfortunately, it turned out factories became efficient by being purposefully unpleasant. Then liberals attempted to use the large corporate boardroom as a model. Now they're trying to use the "think small" ethos of Silicon Valley, where you accomplish big things by getting small groups of people to voluntarily do various things, soliciting "buy in" the entire way.

Of all the models liberals have tried to make the world a better governed place in the past 225 years or so, this one is easily my favorite, at least since the Enlightenment. Unlike the more recent models that liberals have tried over the past 100 years, this model has some respect for the individual. That doesn't mean I'm especially enamored with it, though.

But I digress - let's talk about Elisa's opponent, Naomi Duerr. She's running on a platform of getting more conventions into town, sustainable growth, and connecting and collaborating. In short, she's running on a very similar platform to Elisa, only with a few shoutouts to Red Tribe (Construction! Conventions! Growth!) here and there. Her background, however, is a bit more Gray, having worked in Mackay School of Mines, the Desert Research Institute, and the Truckee River Flood Management Authority.

I'll be honest - I don't think it's going to matter all that much who wins this race since their positions are so similar, but that doesn't mean I don't have a preference; Naomi Duerr gets my vote in a close one.

Reno City Council
Ward 4

My vote: Bonnie Weber

My first thought when looking at Paul McKenzie's website was that he should have paid the little bit extra for his web developer to replace the default Joomla favicon with something else.

Yes, I know - I'm a nerd.

Past that, Paul is straight-up Red Tribe, and I don't mean that as code for "Republican"; my personal suspicion is he's an old-school blue collar Democrat, at least if his issues and supporters are any indication. He's part of a demographic that Republicans have been making serious inroads into over the past 30 years as liberals increasingly abandon the factory floor and boardroom model of progress and replace it with the considerably more white collar, technocratic, almost hipster (insert Snidley Whiplash sneer here) "think small" startup-inspired model being embraced these days. 

In other words, he's a dinosaur.

Bonnie Weber, meanwhile, served on the County Commission for years and is now looking for a new job. She's something of an institution, which I usually mean as a pejorative when I'm talking about politicians, but this time I only mean as half of a pejorative. In all seriousness, she's historically been a decent County Commissioner and has a reputation for being quiet and hardworking. There are some issues that give me pause - she's purposefully not interested in discussing issues and she moved into an apartment at the edge of town so she could run for City Council; even so, her voting record in the County Commission was considerably less objectionable than what Paul McKenzie's running on, so... all right. Bonnie it is.

Reno Mayor

My vote: Ugh.

Let me be clear - unless something truly amazing and incredible happens, Hillary Schieve is winning this. I'm not enthusiastic about it, but it is what it is. Pezonella's running as a cabbage or some other vegetable, which is another way of saying he's putting just enough effort into his campaign to convert nutrients into small amounts of energy and waste gases. Then again, I thought the same thing before the primary was over and he (or, more likely, Cashell) somehow pulled enough strings out of some unholy orifice to get second place - in fact, he wasn't that far behind Hillary, so his goose might not be cooked yet. 

This race really comes down to "old establishment" versus "new establishment". Neither vision of the city is one I'm particularly fond of, which is why I supported someone else, but, despite my efforts, my first choice isn't on my ballot. So, given a choice between the "old establishment", as hand-picked by Mayor Cashell and embodied by Ray Pezonella, and the "new establishment", as embodied by Hillary Schieve, champion of Midtown and the Technology and Innovation Council... well, at least tech lines my pockets. Right?


Well, I guess if I have to pick between a douche and a turd sandwich (and no, I'm not sure which one is which), I guess I'll go with Hillary or something. Then I'll buy some mouthwash and drink every. Last. Drop. At least that'll get the taste out of my mouth, right?


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