Truckee Town Council gets new council member
Special to The Union
TRUCKEE — Tony Commendatore, a managing partner at Aegis Insurance Markets in Truckee, was appointed Tuesday night to fill the vacant Truckee Town Council seat in a 3-to-1 vote.
“I want to leave my fingerprints and make this a better place than when I got here,” said Commendatore.
Commendatore was up against former Council Member Patrick Flora, who had served since 2012 but chose not to run in the November election, and Truckee Planning Commissioner Jan Zabriskie. Despite Flora and Zabriskie’s previous experience in local government, council members appointed Commendatore to have a new voice on council.
“I think Tony brings what the election cycle brought, which was a slew of candidates that haven’t been to a ton of meetings that are bringing some fresh perspective and a different voice,” said Council Member David Polivy.
Concerns over appointing Zabriskie were brought up as Polivy did not want him to leave the Planning Commission.
“My only concern is that the Planning Commission has turned over so much in the past year and, short of Jerusha (Hall), everyone else on the Planning Commission has barely been there for six months,” said Polivy. “Your expertise has been crucial in a lot of those meetings in addition to your leadership as chair,” he said to Zabriskie.
Candidates were questioned by council members about their highest priorities if they were to sit on the council. All three candidates placed housing and climate change as a main concern, while Commendatore put an emphasis on the dangers of wildfires.
“I think our changing climate is extremely important. To me a more urgent matter is our wildland fire problem,” said Commendatore. “As my career in insurance has taught me, I have a risk management type of thinking all the time,” he said. He suggested that while the fire department “has done an excellent job” in mitigating problems that come with wildfires, the town should take the lead on the issue.
Zabriskie suggested that tackling the housing crisis by increasing density along major transportation corridors would help the town achieve its sustainability goals.
“Increased housing density makes public transit more feasible by increasing potential ridership due to higher density,” he said. He added that it would reduce carbon footprints by reducing residential greenhouse gas emissions and allowing workers to live in Truckee instead of having to commute from out of town.
“I think (climate change) is going to be a huge impact on the town moving forward,” said Flora. “Not just as weather changes, but its impacts on the town, on our infrastructure and on our economy. We can’t afford to wait.”
Commendatore will serve until the November 2020 election. The seat will then be up for grabs in that election and the winning candidate would serve until the November 2022 election. With three seats open in the 2020 election, candidates will have to specify if they are running for the four-year term seats or the two-year term seat.
“With my fresh viewpoint and background, I think I’d be a great addition to the town council,” said Commendatore. “Does that mean I want to run in 2020? I think there’s a good opportunity and possibly I will,” he said.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2652.
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