Nominating Carson City supervisor candidates by ward voting only could water down representation, according to an opponent. It could enhance people-to-people politics, said a proponent.
The views came at a forum in the Community Center Sierra Room Monday night.
Larry Messina, speaking against ballot question one for Carson City, labeled Question No. CC1, made the shrinking representation claim. Ande Engleman, favoring the proposal, made the claim of person-to-person and door-to-door democracy.
Messina said the question could be expanded to ward voting both in the primary and general election either by the Board of Supervisors or the Legislature. Engleman countered the city’s governing board doesn’t want that and the Legislature wouldn’t do that against citizens’ wishes.
But Messina persisted with his concern, saying he wants to vote for all five members on the board rather than just the mayor and a supervisor candidate only in his ward. Engleman said the ballot question deals just with the primary and only if more than two candidates file for supervisor in a given ward, while all five board members still must face the electorate in general election balloting. Engleman kept it brief and simple.
“Neighbors nominate, everyone elects,” she said. She said if just two people file from a ward for the nomination, the provision won’t come into play because both advance to the citywide general election ballot and race. She said when three or more run in a primary, candidates would go door-to-door and not just rely on signs.
Messina, meanwhile, said money raised in elections gets spent no matter the size of the district, and money in primaries would just be more concentrated. He asked why a system should be encouraged that just makes the lives and efforts of people in politics go more smoothly.
“Do we want it easier for the politicians,” Messina asked. He also pondered the wisdom of pitting ward against ward rather than having supervisors, along with the mayor, take a community view of issues. He said wards could become like fiefdoms. He said there are arguments on both sides, but retaining citywide representation without opening the door to tinkering with the current system is best.
Engleman, meanwhile, said Messina was talking about “what if” scenarios that don’t relate to this ballot question when he raises the spectre of the issue being expanded later.
The Charter Review Committee and the city’s governing board endorsed putting the question before voters and the Nevada Legislature. The Carson City advisory ballot question reads:
“Shall the Nevada Legislature amend the Carson City Charter to provide for nomination by ward only voting in ward-supervisor primary elections with an at-large general election run off between the two highest primary vote receivers in each ward?”