Behind the scenes at campaign headquarters |

Behind the scenes at campaign headquarters

William Ferchland
Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune South Tahoe High School basketball coach and English teacher Derek Allister mans a phone line from the Measure L headquarters.

Five tables, each with a pair of beige phones, line the back and side walls. Above are signs, such as the goal of “50 contacts per person, per night” and “Remember to confirm mailing addresses.” Apple juice containers and water bottles were next to a full trash can a short distance away.

In all, it has the drab, rough look of a campaign office.

The headquarters for supporters of Measure L, a $60 parcel tax on next week’s ballot, is open daily as volunteers man a phone bank to check the status of voters’ absentee ballots.

“Lots of messages tonight,” said Jodi Dayberry after hanging up a phone.

Dayberry gave her remark to no one in particular. It was Wednesday night and the clock was approaching 8. The Sierra House Elementary teacher and parent was getting tired.

At the same table was Lake Tahoe Unified School District board member Madeline Fernald. It was Fernald’s sixth time at the phone bank. During one of those times she made 200 calls, she said.

The Wednesday calls were to people who said they would vote yes by absentee ballot. The result of the callbacks were marked on a sheet with the person’s name and phone number.

Names, addresses and the crucial phone numbers of the roughly 13,000 registered voters in the school district were obtained by the county elections department.

Concerns erupted late last month when a South Lake Tahoe attorney questioned the legality and ethics of supporters using unlisted phone numbers. A county elections official said requests for lists of registered voters is a common practice for campaign and polling purposes.

Campaign consultant Scott Vouri expects a voter turnout of 30 percent Tuesday. In comparison, the district’s November school board election had a turnout of 23 percent.

One sign in the headquarters stated a goal of 2,600 yes votes from parents. Vouri said the figure was changed to 3,000 affirmatives.

Each day someone makes sure a bilingual volunteer is available to talk to parents who speak only Spanish.

Phil Williams, a teacher for the past 25 years, was getting ready to leave after dozens of calls. Williams said most of the calls are positive, with people saying they would vote yes and inquiring how the campaign is going.

“I do what I can, then I go home,” he said before heading out.

The South Tahoe High School teacher has two children, both graduated. He has worked on campaigns in the past but feels different about Measure L.

“To me it seems like the most important,” he said. “The way I look at it, you take all the adults and politics out of it. It’s all about the kids.”

Not all phone bankers were teachers. John Wilson, a South Tahoe High School senior who turned 18 last November, operated a phone next to his mother, Kristi.

“I think everybody in the (high) school knows about it,” Wilson said.

The senior said he has used his student status to talk to people about the measure, about “how things will change, how things will get worse.”

Although Wilson’s interest in politics has grown, he believes he won’t change his mind about majoring in biochemistry when he enters college.

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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