Home>Articles>Red Flags Rise In Reno City Council Races

Reno Arch in the Morning, Reno, NV, Mar. 8, 2020. (Photo: SnapASkyline/Shutterstock)

Red Flags Rise In Reno City Council Races

Significant donations to council candidates from special interests raise concerns of ‘pay-to-play’

By Megan Barth, January 31, 2024 3:09 pm

The Globe has extensively reported on the significant campaign donations given to Reno City Council candidates from a variety of  developers and special interests. Constituents have continually raised their concerns related to an appearance of a “pay to play” arrangement between members of the council and a finite group of connected donors.

Reno City Councilwoman Kathleen Taylor pictured with Councilman Devon Reese (Photo:@TaylorForReno)

In a story by This is Reno entitled “Ward 5 city council finalists raise red flags,” reporter Kristen Hackbarth highlights such ties that drew dissent from Reno residents:

Some residents spoke out against Kathleen Taylor as well. Taylor has been a member of the Reno Planning Commission since July 2019, filling the at-large seat which is nominated by the city manager or the council member representing the seat’s ward – Devon Reese. She was nominated to the commission by former City Manager Sabra Newby and Reese seconded the motion to approve her to the role.

Resident Chuck Walker said Taylor isn’t right for the role.

“Kathleen has an impressive resume but I also see some red flags,” Walker said. “During her time as a member on the planning commission multiple controversial decisions have been made focused in support of developers, short-term construction employment, enhanced tax base rather than focusing on the long-term value for the residents of Reno.”

Taylor responded that she is “in support of thoughtful development, investment in all our communities and … excited to see a mix of housing, employment and services in the region.”

According to financial reports filed with the Nevada Secretary of State, Lewis Roca, a law firm serving the City of Reno and who has primarily donated to Democrats, is one such special interest who represents Jacobs Entertainment and has given $2,500 this election cycle to Kathleen Taylor.

Taylor, who was appointed by the council to Ward 5 in 2022, will run for election this year in Ward 1 with a year-to-date campaign haul of  over $100,000 with $75,000 cash on hand. Although she has received donations from a variety of politically-affiliated individuals, including a small donation from Washoe County Commissioner Clara Andriola–a Republican who was recently kicked out of the Washoe Republican Party–the sizable donations from developers and special interests have once again raised red flags.

One Ward 5 constituent told The Globe that they are concerned with Taylor’s votes in relation to her donations, “I and others are highly concerned that her votes directly benefit her special interest donors. She should obtain from voting on anything related to Jacobs Entertainment.”

A Northern Nevada native who has significant ties to the gaming industry told The Globe, “Without Jeff Jacobs there wouldn’t be a revitalization of certain areas of Reno that were once blighted with drug trafficking, crime, and vacant, run-down buildings that posed a growing danger to the residents of Reno. He has been a God-send to the City of Reno.”

Concern and praise aside, the red flags continue to be raised by many Reno residents who are concerned with the perceived pay-to-play of non-partisan city council members who seemingly vote in accordance to the size of their benefactor’s donations.

Editors note: Per their request, the Globe has protected the identities of those who offered comment on this story so they can continue to speak freely.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Megan Barth
Spread the news:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *