Challenger Eddie Lorton called incumbent Hillary Schieve a “bulldozer queen”, and also advanced a 2022 plan for the future of the Biggest Little City. Schieve touted Reno’s recent growth while also admitting challenges. Kaitlyn Olvera reports.
Last Thursday, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Eddie Lorton squared off in their first and only debate ahead of the Nov. 6 election. Tickets sold out in just a day after the announcement was made that the two mayoral candidates agreed to take part in a debate many were eager to see. The debate was held at the Peppermill Resort Hotel and hosted by KTVN 2 News and the Reno Gazette-Journal. Photo by Kaitlyn Olvera.
Different Plans to Confront Affordable Housing Crisis and Homelessness
The debate covered a wide range of topics in about an hour, as each candidate had just two minutes to answer questions from the moderator, RGJ reporter Anjeanette Damon, and questions submitted by the public before the debate took place.
It began at 7:30 p.m. with a hot topic of discussion: the affordable housing crisis in Reno. Lorton introduced, and continued to refer to his “2022 Plan”, saying that this plan is the key to addressing the problem.
“First off, we sell off all city owned surplus properties, pay our debt off in full well get out of our principals and interest and pay off our bond servicing debt,” Lorton said. “With that what you’ll accomplish a blight initiative cleanup program.”
Incumbent Mayor Schieve argued that the city is already working on solutions to the crisis.
“We put in 1600 units. We did a community land trust which has been very successful in other cities,” Schieve said. “Private and public partnerships are absolutely essential. It’s been very very challenging because the cost of land has gone up so exponentially.”
The debate also addressed the city’s homeless population. “We have got to finally get them services and look at the populations. Some of them are homeless for very different reasons,” Schieve said. Lorton suggested moving services outside the downtown corridor. “My 2022 plan will build them a new headquarter that they haven’t had since the ‘30s,” Lorton said of the homeless population. He blamed the shelter’s downtown location as a reason for more crime in the city. “Once again, move the shelter out of the downtown core [which] will save us money, clean up our downtown and have a better community,” he said. Photo by Our Town Reno.
Name Calling and Agreements
In perhaps the most memorable moment of the debate, Lorton called the current mayor a “Bulldozer Queen,” saying that many homeless ended up living in downtown because the city tore down motels where people lived with no replacement plan.
Though they disagreed on many topics, they also agreed on a few issues, including changes on regulations for strip clubs.
“I want them in a place where they can be seen, they can be regulated, that we can monitor them,” Schieve said. Lorton agreed.
Addressing crime in Reno was also a key topic. Schieve said the new so-called Business Improvement District (B.I.D.) will soon supply ambassadors downtown, who will pick up trash and talk to those loitering, which she said will help the Reno Police department.
“A lot of times, our police department has now become social workers in dealing with vulnerable populations, so the ambassadors will help with that,” she said.
A few other issues discussed during the debate included the future of city parks and recreation, public art, future housing projects and the Reno Fire Department’s budget.
Reporting by Kaitlyn Olvera for the Reynolds Sandbox