Themes of growth, housing, transportation and the revitalization of business districts were offered up as the Sparks Republican Women hosted candidates for Ward 1 of the Sparks City Council at its recent meeting.
Donald Abbott and Adam Khan, each life-long residents of Ward 1, spoke about their passion for Sparks and what they could do for the community if elected. Denise Lopez Martinez, the third candidate, did not attend.
Abbott said he was running for office to “to become a role model for my community. I’m a Sparks photographer and I see the beauty from behind the lens of beautiful sunsets over at the Marina to the daffodils downtown.”
Abbot is a small businessman and volunteers for 39 North, a local non-profit organization working toward revitalizing downtown. He also does volunteer work for his alma mater, Sparks High School. Abbot possesses an Associate Degree from Truckee Meadows Community College in heating and air conditioning (HVAC) and has taught classes on the skill.
“Education is the key to helping Sparks maintain itself so well for over 100 years,” said Abbott, who also serves on the Sparks Heritage Museum Board of Trustees and is involved in the museum’s special events.
“There are so many changes in the area. We must not dwell on the previous choices that were made … I want the community to come together for the future of Sparks.”
Abbott talked a little about the Pyramid/McCarran Intersection Project and said transportation is a large part of people’s daily lives. He touched on what he called Sparks’ “homeless epidemic” and the recently passed a ordinance to move the homeless from camping along the Truckee River.
“There needs to be a better system to assist them, those who are in need. We can’t fix everyone but if we are able to make just one person’s life for the better, then that will be good.”
In introducing himself, Khan told his family’s story: Young man from Pakistan meets young woman from Sparks at the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Oddie Boulevard; they marry and have children and later his mom becomes a single mom raising the family.
“She doesn’t have a college education but has taught me more than any college graduate could teach me,’’ he said. “ I’m glad I’ve been surrounded by strong women my whole life.”
Khan attended Katherine Dunn Elementary and graduated from Coral Academy of Science Charter School in 2009, went to UNR and graduated in 2014. He currently teaches higher mathematics at Rainshadow Charter School.
He touted his ability to communicate with and serve all people.
“I am running for Sparks City Council, and what is great is all of us who are running are Millennials. We always hear that minorities are under-represented, but the most under-represented are Millennials. We represent a third of the voting bloc and 4 percent of elected officials. ‘’
The candidates answered questions, including what the biggest challenge facing Sparks is today.
Abbott: “I see growth as one of the concerns, the growth and our infrastructure not being able to handle it. Our water treatment plant is an example as it’s almost at 100 percent capacity. You have to expand it or (install) a pump system to deal with the water. I need more information.”
Khan: “I agree that growth is a big situation. If you look at the EDAWN report, they predict a huge population increase and look at Clark County and how they handled their population growth. They were very reactive to the growth. … Our roads are sustainable, and we invest in them and make sure we have more lanes on our busy highways. ‘’
The candidates were also asked what help was needed to get businesses to come to Sparks.
Khan: “I think the big thing is changing the culture. I’m focused on Victorian Avenue. I’m talking to ASUN (UNR’s student government) to focus on Friday night is college night on Victorian Avenue. (He suggests) a shuttle that’s free to all college students that runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Friday and it goes from the Joe Crowley Student Union to Victorian Avenue every 30 minutes. I think right away bringing in hundreds of people from the college changes the culture downtown.”
Abbott: “We can go back to Tesla and Apple coming in. Those two alone are not enough to change our economy but I also believe they will bring in some other companies. It may not all be technology, people are going to need clothes and other necessities. The Galleria is empty. It’s silly not to take advantage of those empty buildings for needs in that community.’’
They were also asked what they would like to do or see as a top priority.
Khan: “Partnering with the university … water, TMWA … we’re worried about a lot of these issues … our roads are sustainable … I’d want to revitalize Victorian Avenue. I want to make sure people coming to Sparks know it’s not just an old city where only locals go. It needs to be a place where locals go but also people can visit.’’
Abbott: “I certainly second the Victorian revitalizing. I think we need to expand, to give citizens a reason to walk down toward the bus station. That area is empty. It will be beneficial to get some young blood down there. Give them a reason to come.”