RENO, Nev. (Mynews4.com & KRNV) -- It was just last week the Nevada Supreme Court took up the question of whether former Reno City Council members would be eligible to run for the position of mayor. The court is still weighing its opinion, but there is a new question about the eligibility of another candidate, this one for Washoe County Sheriff.
Current Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek has announced his candidacy for the Sheriff position. But does the Federal Hatch Act come into play?
The Hatch Act became law in the 1930's, and was recently modernized at the push of President Obama in 2012. "The recent update to the Hatch Act made it clear that local officials can run in elections, if their salary is paid for not entirely by federal funds," said Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley.
So in other words, while the Sheriff's Office receives federal funds in the way of programs and grants, the position of Sheriff or Undersheriff is not paid through federal funds.
Haley said there is also another reason this federal law does not apply to the Undersheriff. "The Hatch Act never did apply to non-partisan offices."
Reno City Attorney John Kadlic explains Reno offices are non-partisan, which is why there was never any controversy when Tracy Chase announced she wanted to be the next City Attorney.
Kadlic says it makes sense for someone who knows the job, to run for the job. "The more experience you get in the position, the better it is going to be for you to be able to run a particular operation, because things become complicated."
Assistant District Attorney Paul Liperralli explains the elected position of Sheriff is also non-partisan. As for other state and local employees who are considering running for elected position, Lipparelli gave this advice. "Folks entering into this arena need to get up-to-speed on the very many restrictions and causes that govern holding office."
The purpose of the Hatch Act is to prevent corruption by not allowing a public servant to use their job to gain power or to personally benefit. The modernization of this federal law is allowing more people to enter into the political arena and serve in an elected capacity.