[VIDEO] Why Local Elections Matter: Far-Right Nevada School District Trustee-Elect Already Causing Controversy
Donald Trump may have gone down to a resounding defeat, but don’t let that fool you. While the Republicans may have lost the popular ticket, they did make some significant gains in other areas, many of them quite invisible to the average citizen. While Donald Trump may be soon fleeing to Mar-A-Lago, he leaves behind him a trail of recently elected far-right candidates who now have no leader to look to for support, just their own extremist agendas. QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Green was elected to Congress, and Republican Kelly Loeffler (another Q fan) is set to face Raphael Warnock in the Georgia Senate election on January 5th.
These high-profile races are all in the public eye regularly, but it is some of the local races around the country that have recently caught my attention. Mayors, sheriffs, and yes, even school board races can have serious consequences, and one such race was in Clark County, Nevada, where disgraced former beauty queen, and social media hobbyist Katie Williams ran for and was elected to a seat on the Clark County School Board. Her social media accounts, both Twitter and Facebook speak for themselves. See this story from LAS VEGAS (KSNV):
How did she win? Many suspect her election was the result of “down balloting,” a process related to or noting a candidate or political contest that is relatively low-profile and local, compared to one listed in a higher place on the ballot: Very popular presidential nominees often cause down-ballot candidates to win…and Katie made it very clear that she was “all in for Trump.” She defeated her opponent with 61% in an area served by Nellis Air Force base (high military concentration) and the surrounding area, which some say is a highly Republican district.
Katie Williams is no stranger to controversy. The former Ms. Nevada (the links in this article are well worth the read) willingly relinquished her crown when forced to choose between her title and her Facebook posts devoted to Donald Trump. Williams, the mother of a preschool-aged daughter, uses Twitter to deliberately poke her political opponents and push her conservative approach to education. Williams, 30, doesn’t have a background in education like other members of the board. Rather, she’s a small-business owner and a former member of the National Guard along with being a (former) beauty pageant winner, stripped of her title.
The newly elected trustee-elect to the Clark County, Nevada, School Board says schools should reopen to in-person learning after months of closures because of the pandemic. Williams went viral (locally) when she bragged in a tweet aimed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about dining at a crowded Red Robin restaurant in mid-March just before the statewide shutdown. And she believes conservative values are under attack in America.
Williams, who received 61% of the vote, knows some in the education community may not agree with her views — everything from advocating for school choice to supporting Trump. But she insists they have one thing in common: helping children. However, a quick glance at her Twitter feed presents her as a hostile, pro-Trump denier of scientific facts regarding the coronavirus, often using bullying tactics when challenged, rather than acting like a newly elected member of a school board.
Representing a district that contains a high number of low-income families, Ms. Williams posted this tweet explaining her views on the causes of poverty.
She believes her constituents to be dumb and poor decision-makers.
Her recent posts about teachers who aren’t ready to go back into the classroom have especially struck a nerve with school employees. In one tweet, Williams says [the] “majority of teachers want to go back—the loudest ones are usually the minority and refuse to go back and work around the measures taken.” In another tweet, Williams declared that “Continued refusals of teaching in-person classes — is only going to make board members and districts as a whole realize we can teach way more kids with fewer teachers—dust off those resumes.”
“For her to say that is really a slap in the face and it’s really disheartening. I want to go back but I also don’t want to die,” said local high school teacher Jennifer Hemme. Fellow high school teacher Gregory Gaskill also weighed in with his opinion, saying, “that’s a reckless statement it’s disrespectful to teachers plus just a common-sense point of view we have a teacher shortage and overcrowded classrooms and she’s saying fewer teachers and we’ll do better I don’t think so.”
Elizabeth Campbell, who has taught at CCSD for 25 years, said she’s concerned about some of Williams’ Trump-like philosophies, such as echoing him in racist social media posts in referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus.”
“There’s lots of research that shows the impact of racism on children in schools. As a teacher I’m very afraid of the harm Katie Williams will do to our children,” Campbell said.
Williams also has resorted to personal attacks on teachers and often posts pictures of weapons, either using them or showing them off. Screenshots from her public Twitter account show the kind of hostility and aggressive political positions that have mobilized many locals against her, including parents, students and teachers. She acknowledges that her outspokenness might be viewed as a hindrance but she sees the prospect of toning it down as being dishonest: “I don’t pander for votes. I am who I am — a Christian, a conservative, a veteran, a mom.”
— Katie Williams – Trustee Elect (@realkatiejow) December 19, 2020
Williams won’t be sworn onto the School Board until January, but one commenter on Twitter has already mentioned trying to recall her.
“I don’t know which of my haters need to hear this … but you can’t use the excuse ‘I don’t like her’ for a recall,” she responded. “I mean I guess you can, but you won’t get very far.”
A spokeswoman for Williams, a declared Republican strategist, defended the push to reopen Clark County schools in a statement to a local TV station, saying Williams feels “the county and state already prioritized opening casinos and convention centers, but left our lowest risk population—our students—at home. We need everyone on board to get our children back in the classroom; doing any less is a disservice to them.” Ms. Williams continues to remain silent, except through a spokesperson.
CCSD and the teachers union have reached a tentative deal on a staggered reopening of schools but there is still no set date on when that will happen an agreement is expected to be presented to the school board on January 14th. Meanwhile, the community is poised to watch Williams closely.
*Note: HR Staff Writer Tara Dublin contributed to this article.