Decisionmakers: Truckee Mayor Richard Anderson
August 12, 2007
As Truckee expands many of its 16,000 citizens worry how the competing interests of environmental concern and commercial development will coexist.
Truckee’s town council members are usually at the epicenter of many land-use debates. One of the town council’s philosophies is something that Richard Anderson, Truckee’s twelfth mayor, admires.
“The town’s commitment to what we call ‘The Truckee Way,’ which basically is a commitment to seek consensus when making decisions and to be as inclusive as possible … It means, too, that everyone has a voice, and all voices will be listened to with respect.”
Anderson moved to Truckee in 1999 after more than ten years of experience with land-use issues and as a consultant in land economics. Well before the physical move he began to feel restless within the confines of his profession.
“I was growing bored with consulting work and needed to find another way to put beer in the fridge and gas in the fishing truck.”
He decided to try something new and laid much of his saving on the line to start California Fly Fisher magazine. The outdoor enthusiast had no previous publishing experience but said he was willing to gamble his savings and allow his interest in writing, graphic design and angling guide him through. Anderson said the magazine is the most rewarding pursuit he has undertaken.
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“Even after 15 years it’s the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had, if one doesn’t mind having a life ruled by deadlines.”
Growing up fishing in the streams and creeks that run through the California foothills helped Anderson develop his love for the outdoors. A desire to preserve the environment he grew up with encouraged him to get involved in the public land use issues in the community.
“It’s important that we all step up to protect those things we value,” said Anderson.
His work in protecting fisheries in the area eventually led him into politics.
Anderson said the job of mayor is not unlike any other seat on Truckee’s town council except that the mayor runs the council meetings, signs town proclamations and other documents and handles ceremonial duties. Anderson realizes that a high-profile title and officiating ceremonial events make him appear more important than other council members.
“It’s easy to take oneself too seriously. I’ve come to believe that, for our particular form of government, the highest quality of a good mayor is humility. Which is probably also the least likeliest quality you’ll find in a politician.”
A mayor’s term is 12 months and the post rotates among the five elected council members. A system that Anderson agrees with.
“I think our system works well in that it ensures all council members have an equal role in decision-making. No single person, mayor included, has an unfair advantage in setting policy and approving programs. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
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