Local government incumbents seeking re-election in Reno, Sparks and Washoe lead in fundraising
In most of the major council and commission seats in the Reno-Sparks area, the incumbent is seeking re-election in 2024. And almost without fail, the incumbent outraised any challengers last calendar year.
Though official candidate filings do not occur until March, candidates for local government offices have already begun fundraising. On Jan. 15, candidates who started fundraising in 2023 were required to file a campaign finance report with the secretary of state’s office to reflect donations and expenditures throughout last year.
Candidates must file a campaign finance report if they have filed for candidacy or if they have received more than $100 in contributions, regardless if they have filed for candidacy or not.
City councils in Northern Nevada are not partisan races, while candidates for the Washoe County Commission can run as Republicans or Democrats.
Local casinos, development companies, politicians and prominent Northern Nevada residents are among the top donors to local candidates. Though some local government hopefuls have more than $100,000 going into the election, others haven’t raised enough to file a campaign finance report yet.
Here’s a look at what funds candidates have going into the election and who made these funds possible:
State officials donate to Reno City Council hopefuls
After redistricting, Reno City Council has four nonpartisan seats up for election in 2024: Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6. Ward 6 has not had any high-profile candidates announce a campaign yet.
Three people have announced their candidacy for the Ward 1 seat to represent the district that includes downtown and UNR, including incumbent Kathleen Taylor, Frank Perez and Lily Baran.
Taylor — who has been the Ward 5 representative since being appointed in 2022 but now resides in Ward 1 after district boundaries were redrawn — has the most cash on hand of the three candidates, with more than $76,000.
As the Reno-Sparks region faced a 2 percent increase in population from 2020 to 2022 and could see significant development in the future, real estate, construction and civil engineering companies are among the largest sources of funding for local candidates.
Taylor’s largest donors — at $5,000 each — are Panatonni Development, a real estate development company; Wood Rogers Inc., a civil engineering consultant company based in Sacramento; the Dolan Trust, a trust from the Dolan family that operates various car dealerships in Reno; and the Grand Sierra Resort’s holding company.
Taylor — the owner of management consulting company Taylor Made Solutions and former at-large member on the Reno Planning Commission — also has smaller donations from various local construction companies, realty groups, casinos and local politicians, including Washoe County Commissioner Clara Andriola.
Perez — who recently stepped down as the chair of the Washoe County Library Board and is a code compliance officer for the city — has more than $26,000 on hand going into the election, with his largest donations, at $10,000 each, coming from groups associated with state lawmakers Sen. Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) and Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva (D-Las Vegas).
Baran, a community engagement manager for Planned Parenthood, who announced her candidacy the same day as the mid-January finance report deadline, did not file a campaign finance report.
Two candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to become the next representative of Reno Ward 3, the district that includes the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and surrounding areas. However, only Miguel Martinez — who was appointed to the Reno City Council in 2022 — has filed a campaign finance report for 2023.
Martinez raised more than $65,000 in 2023 and is going into the new year with more than $45,000 in cash on hand. His largest donations, at $5,000 each, come from developer Dandini Spectrum Holdings LLC, Grand Sierra Resort’s holding company and the Dolan Trust.
Similar to Perez, Martinez received donations from Flores and D’Silva but at $1,000 each.
Martinez also received donations from Bonnie Weber — a former city councilwoman who also donated to Taylor’s campaign — and Taylor, as well as from Washoe County Commissioner Mariluz Garcia.
Brian Cassidy, Devon Reese and Sheila Peuchaud are all running for the Ward 5 seat — held by Taylor until redistricting put her address in Ward 1 — which includes northwest Reno and runs to the city limits near Verdi.
Only Reese — who has served on the Reno City Council since 2019 as the at-large representative, a seat that was dissolved with the ward change — submitted a campaign finance report.
Reese is going into the election with more than $140,000. Robert Fitzgerald — the manager of Northern Nevada Homes, the company that built the Cottages at Comstock near UNR — is Reese’s largest donor, contributing a total of $6,000 over the course of 2023.
Some of his top donors, at $5,000 each, include Panatonni Development Company, Dandini Spectrum Holdings LLC, Wood Rogers Inc., Grand Sierra Resort’s holding company and Dolan Trust. He also received $5,000 from land and real estate developers Dermody Properties, Greenstreet Development Inc. and Heinz Ranch Land Company LLC.
The subsidiary of Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc., which owns and operates the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa and Gold Road Motor Inn, Inc., also donated $5,000 to Reese. The Griffin Company, a local lobbying and public affairs firm, and the Reno Firefighters Association each gave $5,000 to Reese.
He also received funding from state and local Democratic politicians including Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar, Attorney General Aaron Ford, Reno Councilwoman Naomi Duerr and Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen. Taylor and Martinez also donated to Reese.
Sparks incumbents funded by casinos, new competitor backed by unions
Sparks City Council has three nonpartisan seats up for election in 2024 with each incumbent — Donald Abbott, Paul Anderson and Kristopher Dahir — running for re-election.
Ward 1 Councilman Donald Abbott is going into the 2024 election with more than $20,000. His top donors are the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, the Nugget Casino and S3 Development Company LLC, a business that specializes in modern housing and business developments. Each business donated $2,500 to Abbott.
Abbott also received donations from lobbyist Nick Vander Poel and 2022 Assembly District 30 Republican hopeful Ricci Rodriguez-Elkins. Taylor, Sparks Councilwoman Dian VanderWell and Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson also donated to Abbott’s campaign.
Former Clark County School District Trustee Chris Garvey — who lost the Sparks mayor’s race in 2022 to Ed Lawson — does not have a campaign finance report published on the secretary of state’s website. Ward 1 is made up of the southwestern corner of Sparks where the city limits meet Reno.
Ward 3 Councilman Paul Anderson has no high-profile opponents yet and has almost $11,000 cash on hand, mostly from his own money. Before he was a city councilman, Anderson was appointed by Gov. Jim Gibbons to the Nevada Board of Agriculture after working in the petroleum industry.
Ward 3 is located at Sparks’ southeast corner and includes Outlets at Legends.
Ward 5 Councilman Kristopher Dahir is facing Washoe County School Board Trustee Joe Rodriguez in the race for the seat, which represents the northwest area of Sparks.
The incumbent has $6,000 more than Rodriguez as of January for a total of $16,000 on hand. The Nugget Casino, the Legends Bay Casino, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino and 5 Ridges Development Co. Inc., a housing development by S3 Development being built in Spanish Springs, have donated $2,500 each to Dahir.
Rodriguez is going into 2024 with more than $10,000. Nearly half of those funds are coming from Southwestern Investment Group, a real estate development firm based in Colorado.
His second largest donor is himself with more than $3,000. He has also received $2,500 from Laborers Union Local 169, $1,500 from the Operating Engineers Union Local 3, $1,000 from the Washoe Education Association and $250 from Reno Councilwoman Meghan Ebert.
Washoe County chair gets top funding, competitor hasn’t filed report
District 1 and District 4 partisan seats on the Washoe County Commission are up for election this year. Incumbents Alexis Hill (D) and Clara Andriola (R) are running to retain their positions, each facing one known competitor so far.
District 1 Commissioner Alexis Hill, a Democrat who is chair of the commission, is heading into 2024 with more than $123,000.
Hill’s largest donor is Christopher Wood, an Incline Village resident who gave the commissioner $6,000 in 2023. Hill also received top donations from residents Susan Hill, who gave Hill $5,100, and Robert Goldberg, who contributed $5,000. Grand Sierra Resort’s holding company and The Tridentata Trust gave her $5,000 each.
Hill also received donations from various other casinos, development companies and politicians, including Attorney General Aaron Ford, Reese and Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones.
Former District 1 Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler — a Republican who was unseated by Hill in 2020 — does not have a campaign finance report published on the secretary of state’s site, but has announced she will come out of retirement to face Hill.
District 1 spreads from just southwest of downtown Reno to Incline Village and includes the Nevada portions of Lake Tahoe.
Republican Commissioner Clara Andriola has $82,000 cash on hand.
Andriola’s biggest donor was Roger Primm, a resident of Carson City who also gave $10,000 to Gov. Joe Lombardo during his 2022 campaign. Primm donated more than $10,000 to Andriola in 2023, but is refunding Primm the over $200 that exceeded the legal donating limit, her campaign said on Monday.
Andriola’s second-largest donor was Panatonni Development, with more than $5,000, followed by Western Nevada Supply Co., Hamilton Properties Inc., Jensen Electric Company and Associated Builders and Contractors PAC, which gave Andriola $5,000 each.
She also received donations from other development companies, lobbying businesses and local politicians, including Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson and a business owned by Reno Councilwoman Kathleen Taylor.
Challenger Tracey Hilton-Thomas has a little more than $1,000 going into 2024 after raising more than $3,000 in 2023.
Hilton-Thomas’ campaign is mostly self-funded, but she also received a $200 donation from 2022 State Assembly District 26 hopeful Tom Daly, and a $150 donation from Tom Green, a private investigator with clients including prominent Republican donor Robert Beadles. Beadles, who has denied the outcomes of elections and bankrolled a legal challenge of the results that was rejected by a court, has praised Hilton-Thomas in his blog for her questioning of the county's handling of the 2020 election.
District 4’s southwesternmost point includes Sparks and runs northeast before it ends around Sutcliffe and Pyramid Lake. It also incorporates Hungry Valley, Palomino Valley, Mustang, Tracy and Warm Springs.
Updated at 10:41 a.m. on 1/29/2024 to reflect that Frank Perez is no longer the chair of the Washoe County Library Board.