County to city

Kitty Jung wants to bring her Washoe County experience to Reno City Hall

Kitty Jung chats with some Native American performers at an Earth Day event.

Kitty Jung chats with some Native American performers at an Earth Day event.


Kitty Jung seems pretty bored by comparison politics. With almost six years in policy-making on the Washoe County Commission, including three years each on the Boards of Regional Planning and District Health, she said she already has plenty at stake in the actual politics of Northern Nevada as she runs for the Reno City Council.

“The city of Reno is at an important crossroads in regards to its financial status,” Jung said. “I want to help with my proven track record of having the highest bond rating in Northern Nevada. My strong record of creating jobs through the Regional Jobs Team—with 200 stakeholders who commit their time and expertise to job creation—demonstrates how deep my roots run here.”

If elected, she’ll hope that a similarly lengthy background as a member of the Truckee Meadows Flood Authority and the Shared Services Task Force can lend some context to the Council’s upcoming deliberations on flood planning, economic diversification and the ever-deepening morass of municipal finance issues.

Jung also has a degree in psychology, something that could be useful in running the no-man’s land between county and city trenches over the tendentious fire divorce. Jung was the only county commissioner to vote against breaking up fire services consolidation.

The long-time member of the Joint Fire Advisory Board has voted in the past to preserve the district’s contract with the city, though earlier this month she opposed a measure that would have extended talks with the city over fire services.

“I have been consistent in my votes to continue consolidation,” Jung said. “The vote you reference also included a demand of services at a set price by the county that I knew would only worsen the negotiations.”

Jung was appointed to the county commission by Gov. Jim Gibbons on August 29, 2007 to fill out an unexpired term. In November 2010, she was elected to the commission on her own. Two years later, the sitting commissioner is making her first run for the city council. So if you’re a District 3 county voter, then Kitty Jung fights for you. That is, unless or until she’s elected to fight for somebody else in city Ward 5.

In a world full of cynics, that would be the knock on the 39-year-old Democrat, one of three candidates up for the seat Councilman Dave Aiazzi leaves this fall.

Fortunately for Jung, Truckee Meadows Community College political scientist Fred Lokken is pretty sure we don’t live in that world.

“It’s not at all unusual,” Lokken said of Jung’s candidacy. “If she gets elected, she’ll have to give up her county seat, but until then, she has every right to remain as a county commissioner … and the voting public accepts it.”

Ambitious, crafty, or whatever else she might be politically, Jung is nothing if not qualified. With four councilmembers term-limited out of their seats—and 26 other largely inexperienced candidates in the primary field—Lokken expects Jung’s candidacy to be a “win-win” for the well-established county commissioner-turned-city council candidate.

Jung, for her part, is inclined to agree.

“I am the only candidate in this race who understands the issues, and I will fight for the citizens of Reno,” Jung said via email. “I am a zealous advocate for my constituents, and I will continue to be.”

A City Council win for Jung would mean filling one vacancy at the city level by creating another on the county board. By law, Gov. Brian Sandoval would have to pick a Democratic appointee to fill Jung’s county commission seat soon after her departure.

Leaving an office in the hands of the governor won’t be seen as an ideal outcome to anyone, but the commissioner from District 3 hasn’t seen much cause for concern.

“All feedback from [county] District 3 and [city] Ward 5 has been supportive and encouraging,” Jung said. “I have excellent relationships with all electeds in the Truckee Meadows, including the Reno City Council members, and I believe my transition can serve as a peace broker so that we, as electeds, can get to work serving our constituents.”

Whatever the outcomes in June and November, Jung is confident the record she’s put together as a commissioner has won over plenty of hearts and minds in District 3.

When it comes to Ward 5, she’ll just have to wait, hopeful that some of that hard-earned goodwill resonates with voters in her somewhat changed district.

While she anticipates that opponents will try to question her allegiances, Jung doubts that holding on to her county seat looks like a calculated political hedge to her constituents. In addition, there is overlap between Jung’s county district and her city ward. The two jurisdictions share 12 precincts containing 7,008 voters. Besides, she said, “Reno citizens are Washoe County citizens.”