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Dayton council tries to untangle election rules

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

It looks like the new way will be same as the old way for the Dayton Regional Advisory Council.

DRAC took a step toward avoiding future conflicts over election procedures and residency requirements on Wednesday by offering a method of electing board members, and it is essentially the same practice that brought about a controversy in December.

In that dispute, Lyon County Commission Chairman Bob Milz rejected one of DRAC’s chosen representatives, instead appointing one who lost the board election. Milz later, in a compromise, reversed himself and appointed DRAC’s recommended slate with the understanding the bylaw dispute would be rectified. He had objected to DRAC appointees not living in the districts they represent, in violation of the bylaws.

“If the past is a clue to what will happen in the future, there will be difficulty filling districts,” board member Richard Foley said. “We had a perfectly workable solution until it was challenged by the commissioners. Perhaps we just need more definitive language in our bylaws to say exactly that.”

The practice involved holding elections for each district, and if no resident of that district came forward, opening up the seat to at-large representatives who lived outside the district. This practice was not spelled out in the council’s bylaws.

Only one DRAC representative, Mabel Masterman of District 7, lives in the district she represents.

All of the board members said they preferred keeping districts, rather than having all at-large representation, and requiring that a representative live in the district for a period before the election or appointment to the council. If the representative moved, he or she could still represent that district.

“I do believe if you are elected from a district, with whatever residency, you could keep representing that district,” Dee Scott said. “I’ve been elected four times to this board and have had to step down twice because I moved.”

Lyon County Planning Commissioner Chuck Rogers, a former member of the Mound House Regional Advisory Council, said that council has similar rules.

“We had districts and had a provision that if you can’t fill the district, you grab the next available pigeon,” he said. “It wasn’t that problematic.”

DRAC also sought to limit seats to residents who had attended board meetings.

Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi said he would draft language for bylaws and present them to DRAC at its meeting Feb. 1.

“I don’t think it will be a radical change from your bylaws, so we can hammer something out next month,” he said.

He said creating a uniform set of bylaws for all of the county’s advisory councils to follow was still high on the priority list for county officials.

“A lot of people accuse the county of trying to come down and micromanage you,” he said. “We don’t need the extra work. This is a priority and we will get it done.”

Aberasturi also emphasized that the proposed uniform bylaws would not take away from the uniqueness of each community.

“There will still be differences among the boards, but they will have the same ground rules,” he said.

— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.