“These are two of the Democratic presidents I look up to who got us through the most trying times we’ve faced: the Great Depression and World War II,” said Andrew Diss, a Reno resident who is running for the seat representing District 1 on the Washoe County commission.
Diss was among several dozen Democratic candidates for local and state offices who took their first steps on the 2012 campaign trail Saturday when the Washoe County party held its convention at Wooster High School.
Electoral obscurity will be a challenge facing the candidates seeking four vacant seats on the Reno City Council and two on the Washoe County commission. That challenge will be compounded on Election Day in November as local contenders work to stick in the minds of voters who will be thinking primarily about who will be the next president of the United States.
For example, Diss, who is just 28 years old, has never sought public office before, though he has worked as a staff member for state legislative committees. His hot-button issues echoed those of other candidates on city, county and state levels. The economy and job creation are paramount, Diss said, and he believes northern Nevada sits on fertile ground to create a green-energy economy built on geothermal and wind power. Diss also said voters with whom he has spoken oppose the county’s decision to “divorce” its fire protection services from the city of Reno and that he supports the idea of a regional fire service district.
“Splitting up puts our area at risk,” Diss said.
Three Democratic candidates for Reno City Council — Oscar Delgado, Allyson Denby Wong and David Ward, running for Ward 3 and Ward 1 and at-large respectively — also mentioned the issue of regional cooperation as being on their agendas. All three also said they will be going door-to-door to speak to their constituents, drumming up support from the grassroots. Delgado, who graduated from Sparks High School before going on to earn two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, said he plans to hold house parties in the neighborhoods around Neil Road speaking to voters in both English and Spanish; Ward, who owns an advertising agency, will be running 127 radio ads over the next week.
“Money is way too large a factor in elections,” Ward said, “but it is a reality.”
Pam duPré, the county party’s executive director, said U.S. Rep. Shelly Berkley, who spoke to the convention in the morning, touched on issues important to Democrats nationwide: maintaining Social Security and Medicare, job creation and the economy.
“We’re tired of oil companies and big companies getting all the breaks,” duPré said. “It’s time for families to get some breaks.”
On Saturday, 508 Democratic delegates came out to adopt the county party’s platform and elect delegates to attend the state convention, June 9 and 10 in Las Vegas. Also on Saturday, a county central committee was elected to be the party’s authority in between conventions.
DuPré said she was encouraged at Saturday’s attendance.
“A turnout of over 500 delegates in a year when the nomination is not contested is a very strong statement,” duPré said, referring to President Barack Obama receiving the party nod as he seeks a second term.
On the local level, duPré said that although many elections are non-partisan it can be helpful for voters to know a candidate’s party to gauge the types of opinions he or she is likely to have. However, that affiliation won’t help in the voting booth.
“Even though on the whole they are non-partisan offices, people need to listen very carefully to what candidates are saying about the issues,” duPré said. “There is no ‘R’ or ‘D’ on the ballot.”