Planning Commissioner Kathleen Taylor on Wednesday was flanked by her two daughters when she was sworn in to fill the role of ward 5 council member on the Reno City Council.
Taylor was chosen unanimously by council members with the exception of Council member Jenny Brekhus, who chose not to participate in the appointment process.
Brekhus objected to the appointment process because, among other reasons, she said it deprived ward 5 residents of their vote.
Taylor and two other candidates were selected from an initial group of 36 candidates to replace former Council member Neoma Jardon, who resigned her seat after a decade of service to become the new executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership.
Council members chose an appointment process rather than an open election after learning of the lengthy timeline an election would require. The upcoming November election would push a special council election into 2023, leaving Jardon’s seat vacant not only city council but the several sub-committees she served on.
Ward 5 covers the area of northwest Reno, the university, Verdi and portions of downtown.
Taylor had served as the at-large member on the Reno City Planning Commission. She first set her sights on city council in 2012 when she campaigned to fill the at-large seat vacated by former Council member David Bobzien.
In addition to serving on the planning commission, Taylor also owns and operates Taylor Made Solutions, and previously worked with Atkins North America and the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation.
The other two finalists were Alexander Goff and Elliot Malin, who were interviewed alongside Taylor during the special meeting Wednesday.
Finalists discussed homelessness, growth management and supporting city staff, among other topics.
“It is truly an honor and I am humbled to be here before you today,” Taylor said during her interviews. “Councilwoman Jardon left behind some large, probably high-heeled and stylish shoes to fill.”
Taylor said she is the most qualified for the position, and has the most experience out of all of the applicants.
“I can walk in this door and hit the ground running today,” Taylor said.
Council member Naomi Duerr agreed.
“You impressed me with the specificity of your answers. Your experience shows,” she said. “I’m looking for a partner…and I think you would be a good advocate and I would learn from you.”
Duerr said she also thought the other two candidates were qualified but could “use a little more seasoning.”
During the interview Taylor highlighted what she believes are the top three issues facing her ward: growth, resource management and the expansion of the downtown sector.
“Growth is huge for everybody, and how we grow,” Taylor said. “Everybody wants to grow strategically, everybody wants to grow smart, but what does this mean?”
Taylor said that Jardon began the process of seeing the University connected with downtown, and it’s something Taylor would like to see continued.
“I love the way that people are investing in our downtown, and we need to make sure that with the investment, we get those amenities and services that benefit the community the most,” Taylor said.
When asked further about growth, Taylor said the city has the tools that it needs to manage growth.
“We have the Master Plan, we have Title 18, we have codes and design standards. We just need to make sure that we’re using them.”
Taylor went on to say that the Regional Planning Commission is putting together a natural resource plan, which will include information on water, infrastructure, affordable housing, land usage and more.
When asked about public safety, Taylor stated it is “probably her number one priority,” and based on the budgets, it will be the council’s priority as well since “60% of the budget goes to public safety.”
Taylor said she recently went on a ride along with an officer from the Reno Police Department who said they needed more officers in the department.
“He said, ‘we need bodies,’” Taylor said. “That’s what I’ve heard from police, from fire: we need more bodies.”
Taylor also said that sustainability is an important facet of building and growth.
“The cool thing about sustainability too is there is a lot of funding out there for it,” Taylor said. “When we talk about parks – we have 80 plus parks, but if we’re not maintaining them, that’s a challenge for us. Looking at park districts could be a way to source funding to sustain those parks.”
Investing in private/public partnerships to create energy-efficient parks could be a step toward sustainability, Taylor theorized.
In addition, Taylor said that developers who present affordable housing projects could be “fast tracked” through approvals, similarly to Disneyland’s fast track passes.
Taylor closed out her bid for the seat by highlighting her willingness to serve and her experience.
“I’m excited about the direction our city is headed,” Taylor said. “I want to be a champion for our downtown, all our communities, for the university, for the northwest, for the old northwest – for everyone. This council has trusted me to be on your planning commission. I’ve had the hard conversations with ward 5 residents. I’ve been through the process of making decisions that weren’t popular – I know what that looks like. I’ve had to explain myself to them, and I do. I believe in what we do here. Those aren’t always easy conversations.”
Taylor will serve the remainder of Jardon’s term which continues through 2024.
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.