Candidate reaching out, listening to residents |

Candidate reaching out, listening to residents

In the book “The Ways of Seeing,” John Berger shows the human nature of seeing things with preconceived notions.

Kathay Lovell, one of eight South Lake Tahoe City Council candidates vying for one of three seats, has fought the tendency to follow the common practice.

Lovell, 49, has made a practice of approaching the race and the many issues that face the city with an open mind.

“I’m trying to get a perspective in the community to what’s important — not to me, but what’s important out there. It’s no different than a family. Everyone needs and wants to be validated,” Lovell said. “It’s given me the ability to listen.”

The Verizon telecommunications account executive’s talent in sales and former Caesars Tahoe representative’s experience in customer service has helped that effort, she added.

She has been active with the quest, attending most City Council meetings for months, making the interview circuit, meeting with people in a variety of groups and fund-raising.

The first-time candidate, who got a taste of the political world running Jeff Neves successful campaign for El Dorado County sheriff, has raised $24,576, according to the city clerk’s records.

Almost half that amount was collected from 150 people who came to her Monte Carlo fund-raiser about a month ago — a pleasant and humbling surprise to Lovell, she said.

She credits her campaign committee, who come from all walks of life and include her 26-year-old twin son and daughter, Ryan Wagoner and Jill Miller.

“I can’t even tell you how much fun this has been,” she said of her two children working on Mom’s campaign.

Lovell realizes she could be perceived as a big-money candidate, but she said her election run on Nov. 5 “must be put into perspective.”

For one thing, she’s lived in Tahoe for 42 years.

It’s also reflective of her continuous outreach in the community, her desire to hold town meetings.

“How can you represent the community with a narrow focus?” she asked.

The outreach has included business groups like the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.

“I was in business in this community. I know the struggle is ongoing. That’s why I reached out to the chamber,” she said.

While out and about, Lovell has heard that residents want more teamwork on the council and less of threatened budget cuts that, in particular, place the police and fire departments in jeopardy. Maintaining public safety rounds out her list of priorities.

The most frequently asked questions of Lovell revolve around the budget, housing and the Lake Tahoe Airport — with its lack of a commercial carrier making for a thorny issue for the city.

Many people want to hear about her options to use the location for a natural history museum that will serve as an attraction and increase awareness of environmental education, she said.

Lovell pointed to Monterey as a city role model that has captured a market share with its attractions and infrastructure of bicycle and pedestrian trails. She would like to see more of a marketing effort placed on recreation in which the city works with the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority as well as private groups and businesses sharing their offerings.

“If elected, the first thing I want to make happen is to bring a coalition together that would serve as a think tank, or whatever you want to call it,” she said.

The city may have limited funds now for marketing efforts, but Lovell advocates planning for future revenue such as increased tax revenue anticipated from the Marriott time-share hotels at Park Avenue.

“We have not done a good job of marketing ourselves,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t tap into groups who want to come up to recreate.”

As more of her teamwork approach, Lovell would also like to tap into other entities such as the counties and businesses to help the city with more grant-writing efforts.

City staffers now chip in to research and write grants, but it’s tough to find time when many of them are responsible for multiple jobs.

Most cities have designated grant writers to capture the tremendous amount of state and federal funds available.

“It’s an enormous burden to put on one person,” she said.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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