Abbott vs. Lopez
Sparks City Council Ward 1
If politics is a young person’s game, the Sparks City Council Ward 1 campaign is right in step. This millennial-versus-millennial campaign has Denise Lopez, 27, running against Donald Abbott, 26, for the city council position.
Julia Ratti has held the Sparks Ward 1 city council seat since 2008. The ward takes up a large portion of southwest Sparks, extending from the Truckee River and Galletti Way north toward Greenbrae Drive and North McCarran Boulevard.
Ward 1 is a hub for activity, containing the Victorian Avenue/Sparks Nugget area that hosts large special events that bring people from all over the country—Hot August Nights, the Rib Cook-Off, Star Spangled Sparks. It is safe to say the council seat has a big role in the downtown.
Candidates Lopez and Abbott are pushing to make changes to Sparks that they hope will positively benefit the community.
Lopez moved to Northern Nevada a year and a half ago. Before that, she worked in politics, including the Clinton campaign. She takes pride in her identity as a Latina. The daughter of immigrants from Mexico, Lopez has worked in domestic abuse and health-care programs in several cities.
“I think people are ready to have someone who’s going to be listening to their concerns, who has the leadership to give them a voice in the Sparks City Council,” Lopez said.
The changes she hopes to implement if elected involve infrastructure improvement, funding and providing resources to police and engaging the local community. She sees developing abandoned buildings in the area as a crucial improvement that needs to be addressed.
“I think we need to be focusing on redeveloping some of those areas,” Lopez said. “As we continue to grow, we need to continue looking at those spaces so that we can bring businesses and so that we can bring retail spaces as well.”
She says police and fire are “short-staffed. I think we need to be investing more in the police so we can reach all the communities, regardless of where it is. We need to make sure we have someone there keeping us safe, but also making sure they are culturally competent.”
Abbott takes pride in being familiar with the area and its intricacies. Born and raised in Sparks, he has lived in the same home his entire life. Abbott graduated from Sparks High School, went to Truckee Meadows Community College, and now works with heating, ventilation and air conditioning. He volunteers with the Sparks Museum as a member of the board of trustees.
“I give back as much as I can,” Abbott said. “I just really want to help out the citizens of Sparks.”
If elected, Abbott’s main proposed city council goals include tackling homelessness, small business growth in the downtown corridor, improving infrastructure, and community outreach.
Although he has no specific plans for approaching homelessness, Abbott says he is open to looking into affordable housing in order to help the population. Abbott supports improving infrastructure and community outreach to lure small businesses.
“At a city level, it’s not our job to bring businesses to the downtown corridor,” Abbott says. “Now we can do the infrastructure, the landscaping and all that to make it look pretty, to attract people, but I can’t tell them to come here. I can do my best to get them there and give a good foundation to build upon.”
The young candidate also sees marketing and outreach as important to branding the Sparks in order to attract more residents.
“I think we need to brand ourselves and market ourselves for people to live here,” Abbott said. “It’s a great place. There’s a reason why I’ve lived here for 26 years.”