CNCounty News

Now I Know Your Priorities Change on Day One


Key Takeaways

Alexis Hill / Washoe County, Nev. commissioner

You think you’re going to come into office and get to work on the problems that you identified before you were elected, the problems you campaigned on. Then you look around and realize, “No, I’m inheriting a lot of other problems that I also need to deal with. I need to deal with them now.”

When I took office, I felt a responsibility to start projects, because I realized that with term limits, I might not see them to completion by the time I am done. I wanted to tackle housing affordability, but when I came into office in the middle of the pandemic, it was clear that preventing homelessness was the immediate need. We had a lot of protections to keep people in their homes, but those emergency eviction moratoriums were going to expire. We’re right next door to Storey County, which is a major employer, but most people live in Washoe County.

Making sure we have enough housing to keep the region economically viable is crucial in the long term, but we also need to make sure it doesn’t displace people on the fringes of losing their place to live — that’s our immediate pressure these days. Now we’re focused on “housing first” policies to immediately get people into homes, to help them stabilize their lives. We’re trying to be transparent with the community, demonstrating our successes and failures to keep us accountable.

I was so excited to get on the regional transportation board for the county but I didn’t know how bad the transportation was in a rural part of my community. We’re between Reno and Lake Tahoe and coordinating transportation to our main natural attraction is absolutely necessary both to people using transit, but also trying to reduce the impact on the communities nearby. There are funding issues, there’s a resistance to bringing more people in, but if we do this right, we can cut down on the vehicle miles traveled and that will boost people’s quality of life. Maybe if I can help take care of these issues, the next person in this office will be able to follow their dreams, and not put them on the back burner.

“Now I Know…” is a new feature offering words of wisdom from county officials who share what they have learned after facing challenging aspects of their position. The feature is written from interviews by Charlie Ban, digital editor and senior writer.

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