Home>Articles>The Globe Interviews Sparks Mayoral Candidate Chris Garvey

Chris Garvey files to run for Mayor of Sparks.(Photo: @ChrisAGarvey)

The Globe Interviews Sparks Mayoral Candidate Chris Garvey

Chris Garvey has ‘Had Enough’ and wants to make Sparks a safe and affordable city

By Megan Barth, September 16, 2022 4:39 pm

Christine “Chris” Garvey is a life-long Nevadan, born and raised in Sparks, Nevada where she met her husband of 42 years, raised three children and is a proud grandmother to four “fabulous” grandchildren. In 1989, her family moved to Las Vegas and she became involved in the PTA and education. Having met Marilyn Kirkpatrick through the PTA, Kirkpatrick convinced her to run for Clark County school board where Garvey served for 12 years until she and her husband moved back to Sparks to be closer to her 92 year-old mother and her community. At this point in her life, she expected to spend time with family and travel, but a massive fire adjacent to her family home of 60 years changed her trajectory, and she is now running or mayor of Sparks.

What initially pushed Garvey to run for mayor was the lack of response from the city council, the mayor and the City manager when she went looking for answers to a fire near her home that was started by a homeless person who was caught in the act on surveillance tape.

Garvey said, “The surveillance tapes of the arsonist were readily available and the suspect was a known homeless person, yet there were no consequences. I reached out to my councilman for answers, I attended council meetings, and I sent emails and made phone calls, and not one person on the council reached out to me after the council meeting. 175 days later, I received an email that was shocking and insulting.”

Upon receiving this email, Garvey noticed that the Mayor of Sparks, Ed Lawson, was running unopposed. Although she had no plans on running for office, and she only had two days to file her candidacy, she couldn’t stand by and accept what was happening to her and to her home town. Garvey believed that running for mayor against a 10-year council incumbent was “worth a shot.”

“There are so many issues in Sparks. We have a homeless problem, a traffic and infrastructure problem due to rubber-stamped development, a crime problem, our police are understaffed, and Sparks has a problem with transparency, accountability, and communication with the council and city,” Garvey claimed.

When Garvey reached out to the City Attorney and asked for the current Sparks crime report, Garvey was provided an excel spreadsheet which included only the population of Sparks. Garvey noted, “There isn’t continuity in communication and there is a time-lag in providing information. If a person seeks information on the Sparks website, the links demand public record requests. Nothing makes sense. Being on the Clark County school board, I know what public record requests look like. A pubic records request is not required for a crime report or any information that should be readily available to the community,” Garvey stated.

Garvey was also interested in obtaining information related to two HUD programs designed to provide emergency relief to keep seniors in their homes by providing them with funds to modify or repair their homes. When Garvey asked about the program, she was told by the city that the program had been discontinued due to a person’s retirement, procedural concerns and financial constraints. Not satisfied with this response, she contacted HUD. “I found out through HUD that they withdrew the grant due to the mismanagement of finances. How much money is left? This mismanagement of tax dollars are now leading our seniors one step closer to assisted living or homelessness,” Garvey explained.

“Nine million dollars out of Sparks budget went to the CARES campus in Reno with no monitoring measures or oversight on how that money was spent and Sparks still has a massive homelessness problem. This relief money could have been used for helping Sparks seniors, veterans, youth programs and businesses,” Garvey said.

“Homelessness is not a crime, but arson, public urination, and public drug us is. The ordinances preventing these crimes are not being enforced. Any given day you can find businesses in downtown Sparks who have to hose down entryways to remove urine and feces. The council is turning a blind eye to these problems. How often do we turn a blind eye? How are we supposed to make our neighborhoods safer?  How can I, as an older woman, put in a neighborhood watch program, when there are 49 sex offenders within a two mile radius of my home?” Garvey asked.

Safety is a primary issue for Garvey as she told The Globe:

Our police force is understaffed. We are 15 officers down. We have expanded our boundaries and we are down critical positions. Our police are required to do triage every day. Violence, safety and protection of life are primary, so other issues related to non-violent perpetrators are up to an officer’s discretion. There is no direct policy related to the arrest of non-violent individuals.

The Hope Team is a group of outreach police officers for the homeless population. They do amazing work and are great people but they do not make arrests. These officers clean up the junk and trash on public property. Sparks leadership has turned out police into social workers and trash collectors and I think that this has an impact on morale.

Sparks used to be a city where Reno police and first responders would live with their families. Sparks has always been a little sister to Reno because it was safe and affordable. This is not the case and we are about to lose it if we don’t make changes and prepare for the future.

Being on the school board and knowing how much effort it takes to recruit teachers. We need to make safety a priority and a recruitment campaign for police has to be a priority. Building vertical and development is currently a priority. Positions are in the budget and need to be fully staffed. We need to make sure we enforcing ordinances so our quality of life, our businesses and tourism and our revenue improves.

According to Garvey, preparing for the future requires vision, accountability, transparency and leadership in a city that has been overrun by developers building expensive high rises and single family homes.

We need to start looking at smart growth. Most of the developments have been expensive, vertical high-rises and single family homes. There is no infrastructure in place to address this growth. The council and mayor voted against the concerns and advice of the planning commission. The current mayor’s contribution and expense ledger is filled with contributions from developers. The traffic has become unbearable, there has been an increase in traffic accidents and a strain on our first responders. We are now seeing crime in places once thought to be safe neighborhoods. We need to do what is best for our community. The development that is going on is not affordable. How do we approve growth?  What kind of growth?  How do we diversify the pots of money coming in? A Special Improvement District fee is something we could look at and our council has not done it.

What are we doing to ensure we don’t lose our low income housing and how do we expand?  We have limited existing units. Housing tax credits given to builders expire after a certain time. There are a few maturities coming due, so how do we expand these credits so there are more options for seniors and veterans? What programs in HUD exist to encourage home ownership so we aren’t out of balance between renters and home owners? Most people in Sparks cannot afford $1600-$2000 a month in rent.

My opponent wants to do the Truckee Meadows Land Act in spite of a big community pushback against it. He has been working with Senator Jackie Rosen and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve on this. North West of Sparks would be expanded with 30,000 homes. The current mayor is telling us we have the water, but no one is talking about the elephant in the room, where the driest state in the nation cannot accommodate the water, the development and the sewage that comes with these developments and they do not fit this community or the communities needs.

Garvey told The Globe that the people of Sparks, like her, are tired of the same things and have “had enough” which has become her campaign slogan. “I can’t see anybody saying yes to let’s bring more traffic and expensive high rises in. There is too much growth and not enough safety and no one is being transparent about it,” Garvey said. “I think you can find common ground with anyone. We need to have conversations and how are we going to make Sparks a better place. How are we going to have accountability for outcomes? Changing the culture of conversation and vision planning is needed from the bottom up and top down. That is how we change the dynamics of the council so we have a richer conversation about good governance. Are we doing good governance or do we just think we are doing it?”

When asked what her chances were at beating a 10-year council incumbent, Garvey was optimistic, telling The Globe: “There are enough people who are not happy with what is going on and I believe I have a 50-50 shot. My campaign sign ‘Had Enough? Vote for Chris Garvey Sparks Mayor’ sits on my front lawn where 7,000 people drive by every day. Sparks is my home town. I care about this place. I want this to be a safe place where you can start a family or business. I could have said “let’s just travel more” but this means something. Growing up here is what made me who I am. But, I have had enough, the people of Sparks have had enough, and that is what made me put my hat in the ring to run for mayor.”

Chris Garvey has “Had Enough” and is running for Sparks mayor. (Photo: @ChrisAGarvey)

 

 

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