Sferrazza asks court to rethink term limits case
February 25, 2014
Former Reno Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza asked the Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday to reconsider its ruling that disqualified her and other termed-out council members from running for mayor.
A petition filed by Sferrazza’s lawyer Bradley Schrager argues the justices overlooked previous precedent-setting cases in its decision.
Reno businessman and mayoral candidate George “Eddie” Lorton sought the high court’s ruling, claiming a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1996 was intended to stop career politicians.
In a 5-2 opinion last week, justices said the law was ambiguous and required judicial interpretation. But they determined that because the mayor is a voting member of the city council and has similar duties, council members who have served 12 years cannot run for mayor and serve on the same governing body.
Sferrazza and current Reno Councilman Dwight Dortch had argued that the mayor is a separate office.
The petition for rehearing argues that in similar cases the court previously determined voters have the right to choose at the ballot box.
The motion cited several cases dating back to the 1930s, including the 1994 ruling over eight-year term limits for governor. That decision allowed then Gov. Bob Miller to serve 10 years in the Governor’s Mansion. As lieutenant governor, Miller inherited the office when former Gov. Richard Bryan was elected to the U.S. Senate halfway through his term. Miller was elected twice after that.
In that case, the court mulled over the meaning of “years of a term” and concluded “that the people’s ability to choose a governor should not be restricted by an ambiguous provision.”
Schrager’s motion argued the same reasoning should apply in Sferrazza’s case, and the “ambiguity should be resolved in favor of the electorate’s prerogative to select leaders of its choosing.”
Candidate filing begins March 3. Given that timeframe, the motion asks the court to expedite its consideration of the motion.