By Kristopher Dahir
Special to the Tribune
Hello and good morning! This is the first article of many that I intend to share with you regarding things that are happening within the city of Sparks. I am one of your city councilmen, and I am involved in serving our community at large on many boards and community projects. The reason for these articles will be to keep you up to date on some key elements that I think you will want to know about, as well as to give you a unique perspective of the city through the eyes of one of your elected officials. This first conversation will simply give a small look into the responsibility of a city councilman and allow you to get acquainted with the mayor and your city council as they answer a couple of questions.
A city council’s job consists of two main, large components, and then many smaller areas of influence. The two main responsibilities are as follows: First, to determine and set policy for our city, and second, to approve the budget. Managing policy is an ongoing city council process that will continue to need attention throughout the year as we adjust to the overall growing community, whereas the budget is created annually by our City Manager and his staff. They then bring this budget to our attention for preliminary approvals until it is finally due to the state in late spring, where we give our final approving vote.
Meet your team– (To see their Bio you can visit CityofSparks.com)–
Here is a couple of questions that I asked each of our council and their responses:
What do you enjoy most about being on the city council?
Mayor – Geno Martini: I have grown up in Sparks from the time I was a child and have watched as our community has expanded and developed. It was a fantastic place for my family and I am so pleased to help maintain a city where families and individuals have a safe and thriving place to call home.
Ward 1 – Donald Abbott: Being on the Sparks City Council is a blessing I’m thankful for every day. What I enjoy most about being on the Council is having a positive effect on the community that I grew up in. Being able to take all the knowledge I’m gaining at my age and being able to apply it to the rest of my life is really exciting as well!
Ward 2 – Ed Lawson: The part I like best about Council is helping people and businesses out. When I was elected, we were in the middle of the worst recession we have ever seen. It was an opportunity to re-evaluate everything, including the way we do business. We made some big strides during that time and now we face the opposite issue with unprecedented growth.
Ward 3 – Ron Smith: Serving the citizens of Sparks has been my honor for the past 11 years. The interaction with our residents and the ability to affect outcomes for our great City has been a wonderful experience. When I moved here in 1974 you could walk down the street and always run into someone you know, it is no different today when our population up to 95 thousand. Sparks has been the leader in Washoe County for several years and we are known for doing it right while keeping with our family values.
Ward 4 – Charlene Bybee: What I enjoy most about being on the City Council is representing the voice of the City of Sparks and our residents on a regional level through the Boards and Commissions I serve on. Networking with business and community leaders and residents in the Truckee Meadows has been a priority for me in promoting our city and its importance to the region.
Ward 5 – Kristopher Dahir: The best part of being a part of the Sparks City Council team is the people we represent. Yes, many times the decisions we are asked to make are difficult because of the many differing points of view and factors that have to be considered. Yet, in spite of the differences, I truly enjoy meeting each of those families, business owners, community leaders, and individuals that call Sparks their home.
What is one area you want to help see value in our community?
Mayor – Geno Martini: There are many areas to value in our community but one of them that stands out to me is that Sparks is the place where our region gathers to celebrate and enjoy life. “It Is Happening Here” is more than a saying on our wall. It’s a practical goal that guides us as we make decisions.
Ward 1 – Donald Abbott: For me, it would be city history. I feel everything from city monuments, historical parks, and the local museum should be preserved for future generations. As we continue to grow and develop in the 21st century, I believe it’s incredibly important to retain our identity during this expansion. What better way to do that than by preserving the very essence of what makes the city of Sparks the “City of Sparks”? Our vast and rich history sets us apart from other northern Nevada cities, and I truly believe that is one of the draws to Sparks. And that is something that I truly value.
Ward 2 – Ed Lawson: Golden Eagle Park is a gem for our citizens and an economic generator. With consistent events and activities at Golden Eagle, Sparks benefits from the sheer numbers of people it attracts, bringing 50,000 room nights and over $22 million dollars in economic impact each year. Protecting this asset is a top priority for me.
Ward 3 – Ron Smith: Transportation — I believe I have been working on this since my first election. Transportation has always been a concern. I spearheaded the effort to build the Southeast Connector (Veterans Parkway) which will be completed in March of 2018. Vista Blvd. needed to be widened and was completed several years ago. The Corner of Pyramid and McCarran is we all under way and should be completely open by this October. Sparks has so many valuable resources, but none more important than our citizens.
Ward 4 – Charlene Bybee: My top priority is the investment we are making in Victorian Square. As Chairwoman of the Sparks Redevelopment Agency, I am focused on working with developers, businesses and residents as we create our new downtown–the Victorian Square District. The goal is to make this a “Live, Work, Play Downtown” – a vibrant place where people come for special events, entertainment, dining, living and working.
Ward 5 – Kristopher Dahir: For me, the most important part of being a city councilman is to help us all find and focus on our common ground. We live in a very diverse community where there is a myriad of different needs and opinions. For us to function as a city we must find and protect common goals like safety, quality of life, and economic strength.
Additionally, I also find great value in communication, which is part of the reason I was very interested in writing for this paper. I truly hope that, as I write these articles, they will serve as a way to over-communicate the many important values we all strive to uphold in the city of Sparks. Two easy ways for you to learn more about Sparks are to visit our web page at http://cityofsparks.us or go to our Facebook page at City of Sparks, Nevada Government. It has been a pleasure to write for you, and I look forward to sharing more with you in my next installment.