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Former Sparks Fire Chief, Mark Lawson, GOP Candidate for Washoe County Commission (Channel 4 news)

Former Sparks Fire Chief Mark Lawson Announces Bid for County Commission

Lawson’s bid was announced during a conservative luncheon, public announcement expected next week

By Megan Barth, February 15, 2024 1:08 pm

The Globe has learned that Mark Lawson, the embattled former fire chief for the City of Sparks, announced his bid for the Washoe County Commission during a CTL (Conservative Talk Lunch) luncheon yesterday. An attendee at the luncheon tipped off The Globe last night and his public announcement is expected next week, as confirmed this morning by his consultant. Commissioner Mike Clark signaled his early support when he introduced Lawson to the conservative group.

Lawson will run against Commissioner Clara Andriola in District 4. Andriola was appointed in April 2023 to District 4 by Governor Joe Lombardo, replacing Vaughn Hartung who was appointed to chair the Nevada Transportation authority. She will now face Lawson and Tracy Hilton-Thomas, Vice Chair of the Washoe County Republican Party, in the June GOP primary.

Lawson was fired as fire chief for Sparks in December of 2022 after he was charged with four felony drug charges. After just days on the job, Lawson’s firing was announced by former City Manager Neil Krutz in a now-deleted YouTube video that went viral. In that video, Krutz had revealed that charges were soon to be brought against Lawson for possessing and selling controlled substances (body building steroids). According to reports, Krutz was fired over his handling of Lawson’s termination.

Lawson’s felony charges were recently dismissed in court, but the Attorney General’s office refiled the case on February 6th.

On February 12th, the City of Sparks settled with Lawson for $381,000.

Since the charges were filed in 2022, Lawson has publicly maintained his innocence.

Former Sparks Fire Chief, Mark Lawson (Channel 4 news)

In a brief conservation with The Globe, Lawson stated: “I have the full intention of officially announcing my candidacy for District 4. I believe that a candidate with over 30 years in public safety is unique to the commission and would bring a fresh and needed perspective to District 4. The Republican commissioners have fallen short of implementing good ideas due to Andriola voting with the Democratic commissioners on key agenda items.

As a native Nevadan who also worked in California, I am fully aware of the need for fiscal responsibility in order to lead effectively, specific to response times and resources for our most vulnerable populations– including the 25 percent of the elderly population in Washoe County. I have always led with “Service before Self” and we cannot cut into the budget and piecemeal it if the funding is not going to the right programs.”

When The Globe asked Lawson about the Attorney General’s office refiling the charges, Lawson responded, “It is not everyday that a municipality the size of Sparks terminates their city manager, without severance, due to the mishandling of my situation. The City of Sparks paid me a settlement due to the mishandling. They should have never paid out this money if they had not tried me in the court of public opinion. I won’t comment on the refiling of charges, but I do believe there are other issues behind this and it is my hope that that information will soon be public.”


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