Wedding Finance

Primary to decide who will be Washoe’s next employee

Whoever gets the most votes in the primary for Washoe County Clerk will be the only name on the November ballot and therefore the ultimate winner.

The three candidates running are Republicans. Due to Nevada’s closed primary system, if you’re not a Republican, you won’t have a say in who the next Washoe County Clerk is.

Incumbent Jan Galassini faces Randy Amestoy, who worked in the clerk’s office for more than 20 years, as well as newcomer Kenji Otto.

Below is a comparison of candidates’ abbreviated responses to a handful of questions. Learn more about Amestoy here, Galassini here and Otto here.

  • Age: 57
  • To party: Republican
  • Family situation: single, father of two daughters
  • Day job: clerk in Washoe County Clerk’s Office for over 20 years
  • Education: Graduated from UNR
  • How long have you lived in the county: Over 50 years old; Fourth-generation Nevadan, born in Carson City and raised in Reno, attending Wooster and Manogue high schools before going to UNR
  • Political experience: Ran for County Clerk in 2014
  • Age: 58
  • To party: Republican
  • Family situation: mother of two sons
  • Day job: Washoe County Clerk
  • Education: bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance, plus a master’s degree in business administration
  • How long have you lived in the county: 13 years
  • Political experience: Washoe County Clerk (incumbent)
  • Age: 64
  • To party: Republican
  • Family situation: married, five adult children and nine grandchildren
  • Day job: Retired four times
  • Education: Diploma in business information, plus technology certifications
  • How long have you lived in Washoe County: 11 years old
  • Political experience: Member of the school board of Alpine (California)

What would you spend that money on if the clerk’s office received an unexpected million dollars?

Amestoy: A lot of veterans come here, and I’d like to offer them free marriage licenses. There’s that, and I’d spend it on preserving records, digitizing, and making the office more accessible to county citizens. We are one of the only operations where you cannot report online at this time.

Galassini: Retention of records and customer service of those records. Our records date back to 1861 when the county was formed. So we started a preservation project, and it’s very expensive. The documents have already been filmed and digitized, so we have access to them online. But these are historical documents that just need to be saved and preserved.

Otto: They could possibly use that money to upgrade their website. I would seek out any technology benefits that could improve the online and in-person customer experience.

How would you improve customer service in person or through the Clerk’s Office website?

Amestoy: I think the current administration made a mistake by going to council to shorten the hours in the clerk’s office. It helps the county save some money. In the long term, however, many studies have been done on the effect on the economy – on hotels, wedding chapels, restaurants and wedding planners. By cutting hours, it hurts the city’s revenue and also makes it harder to work in the office. It’s harder to cover shifts now because we have too many people at certain times and not enough people at the start and end of shifts.

Galassini: If you ask anyone in the county, this office is number one for customer service. We have a very high Google rating for customer service and our offices are open 8am-8pm every day of the year due to the wedding industry. I guess one thing that might be different is that I wish people could search for more documents online.

Otto: I have the experience and knowledge to work with information systems specialists to develop a better website that is more navigable for the user, that makes it easier for the user to achieve their goal – like marriage licenses. They shouldn’t have to jump through a bunch of loops. It would be better if it was a little simpler. Regarding business licenses, we should make it easier to use them online for someone trying to start a business, to better coordinate the process with the cities and the county.

What do you see as the department’s biggest challenge?

Amestoy: He is currently recruiting good employees and keeping good employees. For the last six or seven years, we’ve been kind of a stopover. People come in, get their good training and then they don’t want to be here anymore. Not the friendliest place to work. I just want to create a nice working environment and start working with other departments. When I started here it was all about community – “How can I help this department? How can I help this department?” No one is more encouraged to work with other departments.

Galassini: In 2016, the Legislature imposed a 45-day deadline to have minutes approved by the Board of County Commissioners. Let’s say we have a meeting every Tuesday. Within 45 days, these minutes must be approved by the commission. When you have seven hours of public comment and four hours of work to do in a meeting, it’s very difficult to finish the minutes. There is much more to writing minutes than just a verbatim transcript. We actually tell the story; we are the historian of the Board of County Commissioners.

Otto: I understand that morale is very low. I have the expertise and experience to boost morale as I believe people are the foundation of an office. If they are not satisfied, your desktop will run smoothly. So that would be my first objective, is to make sure that the staffing needs are met.

Will you accept the final election tally in your race as officially determined by the Washoe County Registrar of Electors?

Amestoy: Yes.

Galassini: If I am not the winner, I will humbly accept the voters’ results.

Otto: I will accept official race results as long as there is no indication or factual evidence that there were any errors by registered voters.

Do you think Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the United States?

Amestoy: Yes.

Galassini: Yes, but I have concerns about the voting process that got him there.

Otto: Joe Biden, by all indications, is the duly elected president.

Mark Robison covers local government for the Reno Gazette-Journal, as well as Fact Checker and Ask the RGJ articles. Its position is supported by donations and grants. As such, all the journalism it publishes will be made available free of charge without concern for commercial return. If you would like to see more articles like this, please consider sharing this article or donating at RGJ.com/donate.

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