CARSON CITY — Reno businessman and mayoral candidate George “Eddie” Lorton urged the Nevada Supreme Court on Friday not to reconsider its ruling that bars termed-out city council members from seeking the mayor’s job.
Stephanie Rice, Lorton’s lawyer, discounted former Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza’s petition seeking to convince the court it erred in its ruling last week.
“Ms. Sferrazza refuses to give up her fight to be a career politician even when that fight has become futile, displaying her complete disregard for the will of the voters and the decision of this court,” Rice wrote
Justices last week said the term limit law imposed by voters in 1996 is ambiguous and required judicial interpretation. In a 5-2 opinion, they determined that because the mayor and council members have similar duties and cast votes, council members who’ve had 12 years in office cannot run for mayor and serve on the same governing body.
That decision threw the Reno mayoral race wide open and disqualified Sferrazza, Councilman Dwight Dortch and two other potential candidates.
On Tuesday, Sferrazza’s lawyer Bradley Schrager filed a petition asking the court to reconsider. He argued justices overlooked previous precedent-setting cases that held when the law is ambiguous voters have the final say at the ballot box.
Lorton’s response called that argument absurd and in contradiction to the voter approved constitutional amendment limiting how long elected officials can remain in office.
It claimed that under Sferrazza’s legal analysis, a person conceivably could serve 12 years in each of six council seats as well as mayor, for a total of 84 years on the Reno City Council.
“To find in favor of ... arguments that any ambiguity should be resolved in favor of eligibility to run for office under any and all circumstances is simply absurd and strips the voters of their voice by sending the message that their vote doesn’t matter,” Lorton’s brief said.
Candidate filing begins Monday and runs through March 14. The court agreed to expedite the latest round of legal arguments, given that timeframe.
The final outcome could have ramifications for other municipalities in Nevada.