Drinkable Reno gets political! Help us ask the right questions

Gets Political

Drinkable Reno gets political! Because ‘Merica

As it turns out, voting for the right representative is kind of a big deal

Drinkable Reno wants to know what the 2014 Reno, Sparks and Nevada candidates will do to help develop businesses in our cities if they are elected. So we’re going ask them. And we need the community’s help to ask the questions that matter. What would you ask them? What do you want to know? Tell us in the comments.

This week we started requesting one-on-one interviews with Reno and Sparks mayor and city council candidates. Next we will request interviews with the state assemblyman representing the Reno-Sparks districts who you will be able to vote for in November.

The two city departments carry the most power to change the direction of our city because they determine where the city goes, what businesses receive permits and licensing and what local laws go into effect. This impacts Reno’s image, ability to attract diverse tourism and industry and most importantly, it impacts our lifestyle as inhabitants of this evolving city.

Say it with me, beer and cocktails matter. They are indicators of economic health, morale and a city’s taste and preferences. If someone can afford an expensive cocktail or four, making rent and buying groceries is already taken care of. More importantly, it demonstrates a type of culture that big city folks, like Apple Inc. and Tesla Motors, want to move to.

The state legislators control overarching laws that affect alcohol production, sales and distribution. Nevada, relative to the rest of the United States for all its sin and vice-driven industries, remains rather outdated and conservative. Production restrictions on brewers and distillers, licensing difficulties for wine makers, franchise laws that make it difficult for a brewer, wine maker or distiller to change distributors if the distributor is failing to perform all inhibit Nevada’s craft industry, making it difficult for us to keep up with the region. Yet, Reno’s share of craft beer sales (18%) outpaces Las Vegas and the national average (8%).

If you ever wanted to know why Seven Troughs Distilling Co. picked its location in Sparks, it’s because in 2010-2011, Mayor Bob Cashell was raging against booze and tattoos, making it very difficult for Tom Adams to open his distillery in Reno. Meanwhile, Sparks wanted the business so it opened in an industrial district. The Nevada craft distilling bill did not allow for off-site tasting rooms and it is the reason you’re only allowed to buy two bottles at a time per month from a distillery. You can thank Nevada state legislators for that last-minute addition.

Similarly, Nicole Barker encountered resistance from the planning commission converting a daycare into Red Creole Fusion because she did not want to open in Midtown. Midtown, Downtown and Fourth Street are the obvious choice for most businesses because those three areas are part a redevelopment districts. But what about the rest of town? Where’s the creative food and drink businesses in north, east, south and west Reno?

And did you know that Great Basin Brewery’s Taps & Tanks location on Rock Blvd. is no longer a “brew pub” because a recent change to the brew pub law lowered the volume of production allowed for that status. Brew pub status allows customers to buy directly from the brewery’s bar or restaurant instead of from a store. It means the brew pub doesn’t need a distributor to distribute to itself unless it wants to sell to a store. Now Taps & Tanks is a production brewery. This is so the two Great Basin locations don’t exceed the new legal volume.

So we want to know what these candidates plan to do to advance Northern Nevada’s food and drink industry, especially for producers of craft spirits. How will they encourage growth in an industry not subsidized by the city and with historically low profits?

Find out here in the coming months and help us generate the best questions possible to get answers to these questions.

Drinkable Reno’s interview format

Drinkable Reno, the public and business owner will determine a set of relevant questions for each group of candidates through social media, email and in-person conversations. Each candidate will receive the same set of questions ahead of time to do any necessary research.

Drinkable Reno editor, Mike Higdon, will talk with each candidate for up to one hour and record the conversation audio in full. There is no off-the-record, no cutting, editing or censoring allowed. A written version of the conversation will appear online with the uncut audio embedded with it. The written version will be edited for clarity and brevity with the core quotes of each answer rather than a complete transcription.

All statements made by the candidate will be fact checked for accuracy and the candidate’s ability to carry out any proposals while in office. For example, a city council member cannot vote on state bills, this would be called out as a false statement.

At the end of all interviews, Drinkable Reno will make voting recommendations based on which candidates appear most able to move Northern Nevada forward.

Drinkable Reno does not claim to be objective, because that type of journalism serves no one. Drinkable Reno’s agenda is one that moves Reno and Sparks forward as destination cities with a high value food and beverage industry.

We will not interview the governor candidates, because let’s face it, Gov. Brian Sandoval already won. We’re calling it now. No Nevada Sate Senate candidates for N. Nevada are up for election so they will not be interviewed either.

Who we will request interviews with:

Mayoral candidates

  • Hillary Schieve (Reno)
  • Raymond Pezonella (Reno)
  • Geno Martini (Sparks)
  • Gene Newhall (Sparks)

City Council candidates (City council ward map)

  • Noami Duerr (Reno, ward 2)
  • Elisa Cafferata (Reno, ward 2)
  • Bonnie Weber (Reno, ward 4)
  • Paul McKenzie (Reno, ward 4)
  • Ed Lawson (Sparks, ward 2)
  • Ed Goodrich (Sparks, ward 2)
  • Charlene Bybee (Sparks, ward 4)
  • Kristopher Dahir (Sparks, ward 4)

State Assembly (State assembly district map)

  • Pat Hickey (District 25)
  • Rick Fineberg (District 25)
  • Randy Kirner (District 26)
  • Lisa Krasner (District 26)
  • Rex Crouch (District 27)
  • Rodney Bloom (District 27)
  • Lauren Scott (District 30)
  • Adam Khan (District 30)
  • Jill Dickman (District 31)
  • Ron Schmitt (District 31)

A complete list of all primary winners up for election this year.

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.

12 thoughts on “Drinkable Reno gets political! Help us ask the right questions

  1. My questions: What do you think about urban sprawl? How would you promote urban density? What do you think of STAR bonds? How would you deal with Reno’s increasing debt? Governor Jerry Brown eliminated Redevelopment Agencies in California, would you consider eliminating them in Reno? Would you favor eliminating the RSCVA and allowing casino hotels to promote themselves? According to Nevada DETR, “casinos hotel” employment has declined from 16% of total employment in 1996 to 7.3% in April while “food services and drinking places” (excluding casinos) grew to 14,200, the highest ever. How would you deal with this change in the composition of the local economy? Would you attribute the success of Midtown to independent businesses or government? In 1979, Barbara Bennett won the mayoral race on a “managed growth” campaign to slow the growth of gaming in Reno. Do you think that was good or bad for Reno?

  2. For candidates in local municipalities:

    With the craft spirit industry just now coming to Nevada we are a little behind our friends to the west in developing the industry. A lot of the difficulty in establishing a DSP in Nevada remains with navigating regulations at the local municipality level. Some cities and government agencies (including LV) have established programs or assigned liaisons to assist in nurturing the industry. Would you consider initiating any similar services or do think that there are a enough resources available to assist entrepreneurs who wish to establish a Distilled Spirits Plant?

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