Jeanne Herman didn’t have any Republican challengers when she ran in 2018 to hold onto her seat as Washoe County commissioner in District 5.
Perhaps after the attention received from proposing a controversial election overhaul with a return to paper ballots, hand counting results and a law enforcement presence at voting sites, Herman faces two GOP opponents this time around: Wendy Leonard and Richard Molezzo.
The primary winner will move onto the general election in November, when voters will also be able to consider Democrat Edwin Lyngar and nonpartisan Krysta Jackson.
District 5 is the largest of the commission districts, encompassing 89 percent of the county. It’s mostly rural but also includes Somersett and the ever-growing North Valleys.
When asked how to pronounce her first name, Herman said that “Jean” and “Jeannie” are each correct and that she’s been answering to both her whole life.
Who is Jeanne Herman?
- Age: 82
- Party affiliation: republican
- family status: Mother of four daughters, with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren
- day jobs: Washoe County commissioner, owns a real estate business, raises quarter horses for show and Angus cattle
- Education: continuing education in real estate and water law
- How long have you lived in your district: more than 40 years
- political experience: two terms as Washoe County commissioner, Warm Springs CAB member, “the first campaign I worked on was for President Eisenhower”
Below is an edited transcript of a phone conversation with the RGJ.
What do you think is the No. 1 issue for your constituents for which the board of county commissioners has the power to make significant change?
The main issue that we want to circle the wagons about is to change the ideals and character of the commission by spending more effort on catering to the people, who pay our taxes, rather than just to the developers. There’s so many times when the commission has just delegated to servicing a certain small group of people instead of the people that elected them.
What would you spend the money on if your district received an unexpected $10 million?
Infrastructure, starting with taking greater care of our water problems that we could have if we keep growing the way we are. Cleaning up Lemmon Valley for sure – number one item there – by repairing storm drains and by improving the sewage system, which is inadequate right now.
If you had a magic wand and could make the county stop doing one thing, what would it be?
We have maybe made ourselves a bigger problem by spending so much one-time money on the homeless. I just feel that we might have overdone that a little, and we still are doing that.
What is the county currently doing regarding homelessness that you would like to see it stop doing?
Here’s a little example. We just spent almost $400,000 on laundry services (at the Cares emergency homeless shelter) to pick up their clothes, take it to the laundry and bring it back. That doesn’t sound like a big figure to some people, but to me, it’s a big figure. The problem with that is we should be teaching those people that are in there to do their laundry and maybe teach them something by letting them take care of some of these things, rather than just feed them, give them a bed to sleep in, give them clothes, give them everything.
I don’t think we’re helping them by doing that. I think they need to make an effort to better themselves with what we’re giving them. It doesn’t appear that the program is going to improve their lives unless they’re learning to work or working for it. In the old days, people who were homeless would stop by at a ranch or a business and say “I’ll work for money” or “I’ll work for a meal or a place to sleep.” At least they earned what they got.
I probably sound really cold, but there’s that saying about giving someone a fish as opposed to giving them a pole and teaching them to fish.
Does the county have a water problem?
We may not have one right now. However, TMWA did a study maybe six years ago. They said that in about 15 years from now, we can provide water for about 567,000 people. We’re probably right at 500,000 now. I have this strong feeling that if we go the way we’re going now, we’re going to have a lot more people than 567,000 or 587,000 – whatever the number was. I think we could be in trouble on water. I worry about that a lot with this runaway building. I’m definitely concerned.
Will you accept the official election results in your race as determined by the Washoe County Registrar of Voters?
I’ve accepted it every time.
Do you think Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States?
I’m a Republican and I would’ve liked to see the Republican win, but he didn’t. So we have to go forward and try and do the best we can with the next election.
Mark Robison covers local government for the Reno Gazette-Journal, as well as writes Fact Checker and Ask the RGJ articles. His position is supported by donations and grants. Because of this, all of the journalism he publishes will be made available for free without concern for commercial return. If you’d like to see more articles like this, please consider sharing this article or donating at RGJ.com/donate.
Ask a question at RGJ.com/AskRGJ.
Follow him @GreaterRenoFacebook.com/GreaterReno, and Instagram.com/GreaterRenoRGJ.