Douglas school board incumbent ready for challenge | RecordCourier.com
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Douglas school board incumbent ready for challenge

Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Incumbent John Raker says he’s done the math to determine how many votes he needs to keep his seat on the Douglas County school board.

He came in second in a three-way race in Tuesday’s primary, winning a spot in the November election by a two-vote margin.

Raker said he was monitoring the results as they came in Tuesday night on the Internet and was surprised by the narrow margin.

“I’m not a politician by any means, but I would guess that’s probably one of the closest primaries anybody’s ever been in. I feel very fortunate to be on the plus side of this,” Raker said.

Raker and Douglas High School teacher Randy Green will be the two candidates vying for the School Board Area 4 seat that now belongs to Raker. John Louritt, edged by two votes, said he had confidence in the county clerk’s office and did not intend to ask for a recount.

Raker received 1,489, 24.83 percent of the votes, while Louritt received 1,487, or 24.80 percent of the votes.

Green emerged as the man to beat, however, gaining 50.37 percent of the votes with 3,020.

“The message is obviously there that Randy has a following,” Raker said. “I was obviously surprised by the results. I had no idea that Randy’s constituents would show up in such numbers. I think most of those are the education folks – the teachers and the people he has taught. I’m not going to change their minds.”

Raker, however, said he is going to begin heavy campaigning in order to introduce people to his position. Raker has never run for the seat in a election. He was appointed by the board in December 1998 for the seat vacated by Diane McCoy.

“I plan to attend all the election forums, do some door-to-door and try to network with my friends and associates. I am going to try to tell my story in a positive fashion, and, of course, that story is we are doing many things right,” he said.

He’s even done the math.

“The way I’ve got it, there are 24,000 registered voters in Douglas County and 34 percent turned out Tuesday,” Raker said. “I received 1,489, 24.83 percent of the votes, while Louritt received 1,487, or 24.80 percent of the votes. About 3,000 voted for Randy, 1,500 for John (Louritt) and 1,500 for me. So that leaves 8,000 folks that did not show up. The general election is expected to bring out 70 percent of the voters, so that is 14,000 voters. I still need to reach that 8,000 that didn’t vote. I’m going to go after those 8,000 and try to get my message out.”

Raker said his message is that the district is doing many good things that have resulted in making Douglas County one of the best school systems in the state.

“I think the fact that I’ve got two years experience and the fact that the board is doing many things right (are in my favor),” Raker said. “We’ve got the lowest drop-out rate in the state. We have the highest percentage of high school seniors going on to some form of higher education. We’ve got our competency-based system in place about five years ahead of the state of Nevada. It seems to me it’s necessary for us to come up with leaders that will continue that vision.”

Raker said he wants to be the person to continue the excellent traditions started by the 1992 board.

“They started it and obviously Randy Wallstrum is the last person in the original group of 1992. We need someone to step up and carry that vision forward and I want to be that person. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Raker said.

Raker said he doesn’t think the elections will affect the way the school board goes about its job in the next couple of months.

“I think it will be business as usual. I would hope if we could keep the politicking out of the meetings. I’d like to campaign on the issues and stand up with the rest of the candidates and take my best shots,” Raker said.