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Sparks Mayor Ron Smith has died


Sparks Mayor Ron Smith has died at the age of 71.

The City of Sparks announced his passing on Wednesday. He’d been fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. His diagnosis was made public in early 2019.  

Smith was elected to the Sparks City Council in November 2006. He became the city’s mayor in 2018.

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve issued the following statement: 

“On behalf of the entire City of Reno—our Reno City Council, employees and residents—today I send my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Sparks Mayor Ron Smith. We are all in mourning. Our thoughts are with Ron’s wife, Karen, and his children and grandchildren during this difficult time. Mr. Smith was a great man, a Veteran, and he courageously battled cancer while serving the City of Sparks and our region with steadfast commitment and passion. We’ll remember Mr. Smith for his important impact on our growing community, such as his support for transportation and infrastructure needs, but we’ll mostly remember him for his friendship, determination and his leadership in working together on some of our area’s most critical issues.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also issued a statement: 

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sparks Mayor Ron Smith. Smith had a long history of service to the Sparks community, first elected to City Council in 2006 and serving as mayor since 2018. With an eye on growth, economic development and flood control, Smith was focused on helping the community he loved so much. Kathy and I send our love and condolences to the City of Sparks and the Smith family and friends and we’ll keep them in our thoughts and prayers over the difficult days ahead.”

U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen tweeted out her condolences: 

“Rest in peace, Mayor Ron Smith. An incredible man and leader who loved his city and community unconditionally. His life’s work will be forever memorialized in the community of Sparks.

“My thoughts are with the Mayor’s loved ones. May his memory be a blessing.”

Wendy Stolyarov—who came in second to him in the 2018 primary elections for mayor—also made a comment on Twitter, writing, “This morning I learned of the passing of @cityofsparks Mayor Ron Smith after his long battle with cancer. He served as Sparks’ Mayor for two years and Ward 3’s Councilperson for 12. I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and coworkers.”


Sparks Councilmember Ed Lawson—who served as Mayor Pro Tempore–will assume Smith’s role and complete the remainder of his existing term, which ends in 2022. Lawson will be sworn in as Sparks mayor on Sept. 14.

Mayor Smith is survived by his wife, Karen Smith. The two were married for four decades. He is also survived by four children and nine grandchildren. According to the statement from the City of Sparks, “In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza Project: www.nvmp.info.”

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.