Byer, Gilkerson win trustee seats
B. Keith Byer has traveled a considerable distance from the last time he served on a school board member — for a U.S. Embassy school in Moscow, Russia.
On Tuesday, Byer joined Linda Gilkerson in winning open seats on the Douglas County School District board of trustees in countywide races. Byer prevailed over Michael Kiger in the Area 3 race as Lake Tahoe’s representative on the school board and Gilkerson won over Larry Lippmann in Area 5.
Both openings were created by board members who reached their three-term limits: Cynthia Trigg in Area 3 and Teri Jamin in Area 5.
Byer moved to Glenbrook in 2009 after a 15-year stay in Moscow, where the certified public accountant worked as an auditor. During that time, he served for eight years as an board appointee for a private school, however, this is his first time running for public office.
“It was quite an honor to be elected,” he said. “You know, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of individual emails I had with very specific questions. With all of the elections that were being held and just the volume of campaigning of this being a swing state, I was impressed by the number of people who have a concern for education, people who reached out and had very specific questions about issues affecting the school district.”
Gilkerson, a 24-year resident of the Gardnerville Ranchos, said that “Like everyone else, I’m glad it’s over,” yet she enjoyed the campaign experience.
“Teri Jamin told me about a year-and-a-half ago that she thought I would be a good fit, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Gilkerson said. “The nicest part has been talking to so many people who have supported me and shown confidence in me, from walking in parades to helping design my bookmarks.”
Gilkerson added that she will attend a conference in Reno next weekend to help in preparation for her new job.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to work and serving the school district,” she said.
Byer said he is looking forward to being sworn in after New Year’s Day and attending his first regular board meeting as a trustee on Jan. 10. Among the tasks to be addressed will be funding for school maintenance after voters rejected a sales tax question, although help could come with the completion of an offer now on the table to sell Kingsbury Middle School at the Lake.
“Now the work begins,” Byer said. “There are going to be some budget issues and I’m a CPA, so I’m looking forward to diving into those and working with the administration to make sure our schools are safe, efficient and clean.”
Kiger and Lippmann are both retired teachers who worked 20-plus years at Douglas County schools.
“I want to give my congratulations (to Byer) and good luck to the Douglas County School District,” Kiger said. “I’m happy that I ran. I was in it for the kids, I gave it my best shot and I want to thank the people who supported me.”
This was Lippmann’s second run for the Area 5 seat. He lost to Jamin in 2012.
“My best wishes go to Linda Gilkerson and the school board,” he said. “It’s been an interesting process and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and I do not regret for a moment running the campaign. And I want to express tremendous appreciation for all the people that supported me and encouraged me, it was very overwhelming.”
Ross Chichester, the board’s current president, expressed his gratitude to each of the candidates.
“I want to thank all four of the candidates for the interest they showed in a very important position,” he said. “It’s just too bad there were only two positions available. And for the two winners, I hope they enjoy the next four years on the board with us.”
The school board’s next meeting is Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Airport Training Center.