As the November 6 midterm election day quickly approaches, Sparks voters may notice a question that is not on any other ballot.
In the City of Sparks Advisory Question, also known as SP-1, citizens will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on the following question: Should the city attorney remain an elected non-partisan office within Sparks’ government?
Currently the Sparks City Attorney position is elected to a 4-year term through Sparks’ constituents, therefore voting “no” would allow the city council to appoint a city attorney.
The ballot questions/voter information packet that Washoe County residents receive state that the financial impact of keeping the city attorney an elected position is minimal as there are no taxpayer funds incurred from hiring the position, only in the salary and benefits the city attorney receives. As it currently stands, all of the expense lies on what it costs for the candidate to campaign. If the job becomes an appointed position then there will be some added expense in advertising, interviewing and the time involved for city staff to find an appropriate candidate.
A yes vote basically protects citizens’ rights to appoint this position, keeping whoever is in that role responsible to the people rather than to the legislature. The rebuttal of that is that it limits the pool of good candidates and if the voters choose the wrong person to be in that position then it would be much harder to fire them.
“This question has to do with Sparks’ citizens’ right to vote on whether they want to retain their right to vote,” says current city attorney of Sparks Chet Adams. Adams was elected into his position in 1995 and has served six consecutive terms for the city.
This question has come up in several elections, including one in 1974 (7,893 people voted “yes” to retain their right to vote while a whopping 670 people were willing to give it up), and then again in 1979 and 1991 where voters continued to keep the position within the hands of Sparks constituents.
So why did it come up again on this year’s ballot? In the last legislative session, two Nevada politicians decided to unilaterally change the charter from having the city attorney position from it being elected to appointed by city council. Without it going to vote, the governor vetoed the bill which gives Sparks citizens once again to choose how they want the city attorney in that position.
“Had the governor not vetoed the bill, the citizens’ rights would’ve been taken away. Any time you have an elected position in government the citizens have a voice, the citizens have control. As a lawyer I’m responsible to protect the city’s legal interest and the health, safety, and welfare of the people,” says Adams.
“Legally and ethically it’s easier to be voted in,” he adds. “When citizens are given the opportunity to vote for this position, then they will turn out. I’ve spent my entire legal career representing the people of Sparks and I’ve enjoyed it very much,” Adams says. “All I wanted to do here is keep our citizens right to have a voice.”
Election Day is November 6 and your polling location is listed on the Official Sample Ballot that you receive in the mail. Early voting is also available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October 31 and November 1-2 at these Sparks locations: Legends at Sparks Marina; Raley’s on 2895 N. McCarran Boulevard and 2389 Wingfield Hills Road; the Spanish Springs Library, and the Sparks Library.