Undercurrent

Sisolak chose Burkhead as Lt. Gov. to turn around schools 

By: - December 16, 2021 12:14 pm

Lisa Cano Burkhead and family after the former high school principal was appointed Nevada lieutenant governor. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

In 2002 Lisa Cano Burkhead ran for Nevada Assembly as a Democrat. 

“Then life went in a different direction,” she said Thursday morning, minutes after being named by Gov. Steve Sisolak as Nevada’s lieutenant governor. 

Now, life is going in another direction as the political neophyte and public school educator is literally within a heartbeat of the state’s highest office, a position that earned her the title of ‘LG Mom’ from her three daughters.

Is she confident she can run the government, a reporter asked at a news conference in Las Vegas.  

“I’m confident she can run this government,” Sisolak interrupted. 

“I am heartened by the governor’s confidence in me and I do have confidence that if the occasion arises, that I would be able to serve our state,” Burkhead answered. “Although I don’t anticipate that happening.”

Burkhead said she intends to run for lieutenant governor next year. 

“I think we can get so much work done if I have a full term,” she said. 

The appointment is a clear signal that Sisolak is weighing in on next year’s race. Term-limited Henderson Mayor Debra March and Northern Nevada activist Kimi Cole have both expressed interest in running.  

Victories by Sisolak and the new lieutenant  governor in 2022 would give Burkhead an advantage should she choose to run for governor in 2026.

Sisolak said he chose Burkhead because of her experience as an educator. The move comes against the backdrop of a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s mask mandate in schools, the Clark County School Board engaged in partisan bickering, and student achievement near the bottom of all states,  

“We can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results,” he said. “Lisa has proven that she could turn around schools. Her practices, her innovation, have demonstrated that they work and I’m confident that we can use what she has done at Foothill and Fertitta and move it statewide.”

Burkhead is a native Las Vegan and first generation American.  Her parents immigrated to Las Vegas where her mother, a native of Paraguay, worked as a seamstress at Hudson Cleaners and her father, born in Argentina, worked as a blackjack dealer.  

She attended public schools in Las Vegas, earned degrees in English and Spanish and teaching credentials at the University of the Redlands in California, before returning to Las Vegas where she’s been a teacher and principal for the last 25 years.

Sisolak was able to appoint someone to the office after former Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall left the job earlier this year to take a post in the Biden administration.

Author’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly said Burkhead is the first Latina Lt. Gov. of the state.  Kate Marshall was the first.  

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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