Brothel question qualifies for Churchill County ballot

Churchill County commissioners agreed Wednesday that there are sufficient signatures on a petition seeking to end legalized prostitution in Churchill County to send the question to voters.

The board voted 3-0 to place the topic on the Nov. 2 ballot. Voters will decide whether to repeal a current ordinance that allows legal prostitution in Churchill County, or decide if the law allowing two legal brothels outside Fallon's city limits should stay on the books.

A committee that calls itself the Coalition to End Prostitution submitted petitions containing 1,337 signatures to the Churchill County Clerk/Treasurer's Office May 21. Using a computer program and formula devised by state officials, the clerk's office checked randomly selected signatures to see if they belong to valid registered voters.

"They had more than enough (signatures)," said Kelly Helton, office manager in the county clerk's office.

County Clerk Gloria Venturacci told commissioners they had two options to deal with the topic. The board could repeal the ordinance approved by voters in 1974, or the officials could let voters to decide the issue.

"It's the commission's prerogative to repeal the ordinance or put it on the ballot for a vote of the people. Hopefully, we can pattern the question after the one in 1974," Venturacci said.

In 1974, voters were asked: "Shall Churchill County enact an ordinance regulating, licensing and controlling houses of prostitution, prohibiting certain conduct in connection therewith and providing for the assessment and collection of a quarterly license fee?"

In the 1974 election, 2,367 voters favored legalized prostitution while 1,794 were opposed.

With little comment, commissioners decided to place the question on the ballot.

"I am in favor of putting this on the ballot. It should be up to the voters to make a decision on the future," said Board Chairman Gwen Washburn.

Commissioners Lynn Pearce and Norm Frey agreed.

"A vote of the people put it in place and a vote should take it out," Peace said.

Marlene Garcia can be contacted at


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