Judge says Nev. Assembly candidate can remain on ballot
RENO ” A judge has dismissed a challenge by Democrat Assemblywoman Debbie Smith over the residency of her Republican rival, Trent Baldwin.
Washoe District Judge Jerry Polaha on Monday ruled that Baldwin did what he had to do to meet residency requirements by moving out of his Reno home and into a rented room in Sun Valley to run for office in the Sparks district.
State law requires candidates to live in the district for at least 30 days before filing for office.
In April, Baldwin moved from the Reno home he shared with his wife and three foster children to a room in Sun Valley. His family is trying to purchase a larger home near the Wild Creek golf course in District 30. In the meantime, his wife and children remain in the Reno home.
Polaha relied on Baldwin’s testimony that he has no intention of returning to his Reno home, is not attempting to live in both places at once and had the address changed on his driver’s license and credit card bills.
Baldwin also obtained a sworn affidavit from his landlord saying he “lives there, sleeps there, eats there and pays his rent there,” said Baldwin’s lawyer, David O’Mara.
Polaha said the fact that Baldwin was living apart from his family wasn’t relevant.
“His wife and children are not running for office,” Polaha said.
Smith said she was surprised by the judge’s decision and said it sets a dangerous precedent for future races.
“I just think this has bigger implications,” she said.
For example, she said, “The idea that you can recruit a candidate who lives in Las Vegas, and he can come up here and rent a room and run for office, I think that’s very disturbing. I think elected officials and future candidates should all be concerned about that.”
In 2002, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that a candidate’s “home is where your cat lives.”
But Polaha said the facts in Baldwin’s case are different because he isn’t splitting time between his Reno home and Sun Valley room.