Echan slips by Laughlin |

Echan slips by Laughlin

In what has been one of the closest local races, George Echan barely defeated Bill Laughlin for Douglas County School Board.

Only 93 votes separated the Area Three race. Incumbent George Echan garnered 6,989 votes, or 50.33 percent. Opponent Bill Laughlin received 6,896 votes.

The district’s supposed lack of communication skills had been the thrust of this election.

“If I win that’s great,” Laughlin said before final results were announced. “If I don’t win, I am optimistic that the current board members will have gotten the message through this current election process and they will be more communicative. If I’m part of the board that’s fine. If I’m not, I hope they’ve learned a lesson.

“I certainly learned a lot through this process and I hope they did too.”

Echan has lived in Zephyr Cove for 21 years, where he practices law. His son, Todd graduated from Whittell High School last spring.

Appointed in July 1998, Echan ran unopposed for the school board in November 1998 to complete the last two years of Mary Bennington’s term. Bennington moved to the valley after serving two years as the Lake Tahoe representative.

Echan said he ran for school board in hopes of contributing to student achievement.

“I’ve been involved in community service my whole life and most of the community service I did was with adults,” he said in an earlier statement. “I have always treasured kids and really felt I could contribute what energy and intellect I had to student achievement.”

District competency standards are also important to Echan, who will serve again as the board’s only lake representative.

“People are generally too prepared to write off our kids and their abilities,” Echan said. “I’m committed to excellence and whether that’s going off to college or entering an honorable vocation. I’m also really committed to the competencies and would really like to continue to stretch and raise the bar even further.”

Lack of communication between staff and administration is another major issue, according to Echan, who spoke of qualities he thinks a board member should possess.

“You have to be a consummate professional and have a singleness in purpose,” he said. “You are obligated to listen to all stake holders, parents, staff, teachers, students. To me that’s really important. Once you’ve heard, you have to have the courage to make decisions. You can’t pander to any individual group, with one exception and that’s the students.”

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