Former rural superintendent challenges incumbent in School Board District G

By: - October 12, 2022 5:20 am

Linda Cavazos and Greg Wieman

In Clark County School Board District G, incumbent Linda Cavazos seeks her second full term. Challenging her is Greg Wieman, a longtime educator and former rural superintendent.

In a crowded seven-person primary, Cavazos received 37.3% of votes — the best showing of the three School Board incumbents up for reelection this year but still well below the majority she would have needed to secure her seat in June. Wieman came in a distant second, securing 17.3% of votes.

Wieman says every eliminated candidate now supports him.

School Board races are nonpartisan but Cavazos, a part-time family therapist who taught in the district for 15 years, is known on the board for her vocal support of progressive policies, such as the district’s gender-identity policy and a policy requiring schools to distribute letters on the importance of safe gun storage. She is also one of three current trustees who have clashed with CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara, whose contract was recently renewed until 2026.

Cavazos said her strengths lie with her board experience and deep ties to the community, which she has lived in for more than 35 years. She considers herself one of the most accessible trustees and says she is always willing to talk to anyone as long as they aren’t being abusive.

“I will never ignore you,” she says. “I may not agree with you but I will try to find the common ground, to come to where you are.”

Cavazos says in her five years she’s had countless parents, district employees and even concerned community members call, text, email or message her on social media to talk about issues like school performance, safety and mental health.

“My number is out there in the universe,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll get parents that will call with five of them on the line at once.”

Cavazos knows board dysfunction is top of mind for many followers of the School Board, but she says she prefers the term “parallel boards.” She claims the three trustees who have voted to oust the superintendent — her, Danielle Ford and Lisa Guzman — are intentionally left out of communication from the district.

“We are not having all the tools at the same time,” says Cavazos. “It hinders us. It keeps us from being cohesive and collaborative and united.”

Cavazos acknowledges the upcoming election might change that dynamic. Cavazos is one of three trustees up for reelection. But she equally acknowledges she might stay on a minority voting bloc.

She is okay with that.

“I didn’t want to base (my decision to run) on ‘if this person wins’ or ‘if this person loses.’ I based it on: No matter what happens, however the dominoes fall, do I feel like I can still make a contribution?”

Cavazos believes the answer is yes. If nothing else, she says, she might be the devil’s advocate who asks the questions that need to be asked.

“I will need to work with whatever happens,” she adds. “I would do my best to work with the superintendent, but a lot of it depends on him.”

Jara, she contends, has “to make the decision whether to treat all of us fairly and equitably.”

Wieman thinks voters will reject Cavazos for being ineffective.

“Her biggest initiative was to fire the superintendent and she failed,” he said. “She has no influence with the board and superintendent. All she does is engage in symbolic votes.”

Wieman says he wants to help bring credibility back to the board, which has been embarrassed by both micro-scandals, like the trustees bickering at each other on social media, and significant turmoil, like the firing and rehiring and subsequent lawsuit of the superintendent last year.

“Outside entities are constantly trying to save the district from itself,” he says. “That includes the state legislature, the state department of education, the teachers unions. It’s disheartening to watch. We brought this on ourselves through poor performance.”

He added, “I think I can influence the district and the board into setting performance goals that are measurable and attainable.”

Wieman, a longtime teacher who has also worked as a principal and as superintendent Eureka County School District, wants the trustees to be more proactive in weighing in on policy decisions made by other boards, like the board of education or the legislature. He is, as an individual, already lobbying against some proposed changes to statewide testing policies — a subject he says he knows better than almost anyone.

“I never dreamed of being a school board member,” he says. “This is not an aspiration. But after talking to a couple people, they basically said ‘We need you. Maybe you could add some competency to the board.’ That’s why I’m running.”

Wieman declined to disclose everyone who initially vetted him as a potential candidate, but he did say the process began when he was reached out to by Eddie Facey, a former economic student of his. Facey is a Republican currently running for Nevada State Assembly District 42.

Wieman has been endorsed by the Clark County Education Association, Power2Parent, A Better Choice (ABC) PAC, the Las Vegas Sun and the Nevada Republican Club.

Cavazos has been endorsed by the Education Support Employees Association, SEIU, PLAN, Moms Demand Action and several trade unions.

According to campaign finance reports, Cavazos raised $10,653 in cash and in-kind donations between Jan. 1 and June 30. Her top donor was Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who contributed just under $5,000. Wieman, who says he chose not to fundraise for the primary, reported zero contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30. He has since begun accepting donations.

Third quarter reports, which will cover contributions and expenses between July 1 and Sept. 30, are due to the state on Oct. 15.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, three children and one mutt.