After the Reno City Council and mayor debate last week, when candidates and residents were milling around, a flyer was handed out announcing an art auction to raise money for three of the candidates—Erik Holland, Vivian Freeman and Scott Kelley.

It’s not uncommon for candidates to hold fundraisers, but for several to do it jointly is unusual. Are the three of you a ticket? Holland was asked.

“Yes, we are. We’re running together,” he said. “We have some of the same positions on issues, and we think we’d work well together.”

Holland is running for mayor, Freeman and Kelley for City Council seats.

Freeman said the idea came up when the candidates first started planning campaigns. She could not recall who had the idea, but it might have been a supporter. She said someone pointed out that the local Republican Party had once had a GOP municipal ticket.

Municipal elections are nonpartisan, in the sense that political party affiliation is not listed on the ballot, but political parties are still free to support candidates. Kelley, Freeman and Holland are all Democrats.

Freeman said she raised the issue of whether the candidates might inherit each other’s political baggage or adversaries. “I mentioned that to both Erik and to Scott—'You know, I was in office a long time, are you sure you want my baggage, because I’m sure there are people out there that don’t like me. So can you live with that?’ And they said yes.”

Freeman was elected nine times to the Nevada Assembly and before that to the Washoe County Hospital Board.

Historians have not been able to come up with any other instance of municipal candidates running together on a reform ticket in Nevada. The nearest thing that state archives administrator Guy Louis Rocha could cite was the post-World War I era. In a 1918 statewide vote, Nevada voters imposed alcohol prohibition before the nation adopted it, and there seemed to be “wet” and “dry” alliances that cut across party lines. “Even though they were of opposite parties, they would line up as dries or wets,” Rocha said.

He added that wets were elected across the board in Washoe County, some Democrats and some Republicans. “What seemed to be driving the agenda was, are you wet or are you dry?”

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...