Charlene Bybee, a life-long Sparks resident, is anxious for the day she is able to officially throw her name in the mix and begin hammering her campaign signs into the ground. Bybee said Thursday she chose to run for the local non-partisan seat because it offered the best chance to make a difference in the community.
“There are so many things happening that are affecting us from the national and the state levels,” Bybee said inside the Tribune offices Thursday. “I got tired of yelling at the television and decided I could either ignore everything going on or I could get involved and see if I could make a difference. I really thought that since I have not done this before that starting on the city level is the place I could most make a difference.”
Bybee, a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, has worked as a flight attendant for American Airlines for 37 years and she has spent her years in Sparks heavily involved in education, women’s issues and citizen committees involved with the city. Bybee was also a volunteer citizen lobbyist during the 2011 and 2013 Nevada Legislative sessions, advocating for education and fiscal responsibility.
“I think the experience of volunteering throughout the community and seeing different aspects, from education to the (City of Sparks) charter committee, gives you more broad-based knowledge and more interest in where you are living and what happens to it,” Bybee said, adding that she brings high levels of communication to the position. “I was also able to work with a lot of different people. I do that in my job now, too, and I think I bring the ability to work with people to my candidacy.
“I get along really well with people and with the community. I have met a lot of people and I have worked with a lot of people. I can also handle when people are not so nice or have issues and work toward a resolution. At my work as a flight attendant, when something goes wrong, I am trapped at 30,000 feet and there is nowhere to go and you can’t run away from your problems.”
Bybee said communication with Sparks citizens and their local government will be a priority if she is elected. She said that particular communication already has a head start because of the city’s expansive website and newly developed smartphone applications.
“I think keeping open lines of communication with the citizens, among the council members and the council working with the state legislature are all important factors,” she said. “Too often communication can be an issue that causes a lot more problems than need to happen.
“I really focus everything I do on information. I don’t like to make decisions emotionally. I try to keep the emotions out of it and get as much information as I can and then I can disagree with other people while respecting their opinion or view. I think that is important. People don’t do that enough anymore.”
Bybee also touts a “fresh perspective” for local government, having not been in the political arena previously. She said she can effectively represent the citizens of Sparks because she is the “average taxpayer.”
“Another reason I decided to run is because I think in government, on all levels, we don’t have enough average people –– the average, everyday taxpayer and resident, Bybee said. “Our constituents are people who are working here, paying their taxes and are not involved in politics. Bringing an average citizen to the table I think I bring a perspective from the outside.
“A lot of times you need different people’s perspectives to come to better decisions and see things differently. I think coming from outside the government I reflect more with the average citizen.”
Bybee said she has consulted outgoing Councilman Carrigan and the other City Council members, seeking insight from their experience with the City of Sparks. She said the council members were able to break down the time commitment, current issues being examined and give her a sense of what the Ward 4 seat will bring her.
“I am definitely excited about the coming months and getting out to meet the people in my precinct, and I have already had a great start and walked through about half of my area,” Bybee said. “You’ve got to meet people. They want to see your face, not my volunteers or my family who are all out helping me. Fundraising is the part I like least. It is hard to ask people for money, especially because the economy is still not great.”
For more information on Charlene Bybee and to read her full platform, visit www.charlenebybee.com.