Nyla Howell, center, is stepping down after a decade as chairwoman of the Churchill County Democratic Central Committee. At the 2018 fundraising dinner, she is with former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, left, and Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford.
After serving as chairwoman of the Churchill County Democratic Central Committee for more than a decade, Nyla Howell said the timing is right to step down.
Howell will preside over her last meeting Thursday night, but she had been discussing her future for the past several weeks and also at May’s meeting of the CCDCC.
“My current term actually doesn't end until February 2021, but personal circumstances have compelled me to resign at this time,” she said, adding current Vice Chairman John Solomon will become the chairman on Thursday.
Howell expressed her confidence the CCDCC will maintain a robust Democratic presence in the community. She reflected on her involvement with the local Democratic group that began 13 years ago.
“I started attending CCDCC meetings in 2007 as a volunteer for the Obama Presidential Campaign and continued to attend meetings after the 2008 election,” she said. “In 2009 I was elected as vice chair with Marcia de Braga as our chairwoman and sadly took over after Marcia's passing in 2010. So, even with very little experience, the Churchill County Dems amazingly gave me their support in 2011, then every two years thereafter, and kept me on as the chair.”
During her first few years as chairwoman, Howell said she received guidance from Bob and Gaye Johnston, who were involved with the CCDCC.
Howell said the biggest highlight of the 2007-8 presidential campaign was meeting candidate Barack Obama when he spoke at the Churchill County Middle School gym in January 2008. Throughout the years, she participated in the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus and served as the group’s chairwoman from March 2013 to March 2017. She was also a State Central Committee member of the Nevada State Democratic Party from 2010-2019.
A local accomplishment was getting more people involved with the annual fundraising dinner, and she suggested changing the event’s name from the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to the Sawyer-Bryan Dinner. Grant Sawyer and Richard Bryan were former governors, and Bryan served in the U.S. Senate until he retired from public service in 2000. The foresight proved to be successful.
“Our last JJ Dinner in 2015, we only had about 45 people in attendance and the first Sawyer-Bryan Dinner had 90 to 96 people attend,” she said. “We've had anywhere from 88 to 100 in attendance at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 dinners.”
The coronavirus pandemic, though, canceled this year’s dinner.
Howell said she has received good support during the past 10 years. She cited vice chairs Pat Avery, Larry Jackson and Solomon; secretaries Jeanette Strong and Ellen Johnson and treasurers Carol Roeder, Sharon Hedges-Hiller, Gloria Johnnie-Robles, Solomon and Edith Isidoro Mills.
Howell, who was born in California but grew up in Oregon, moved to Fallon in 1995 with her husband Keith. She worked in the office of A & K Earth Movers, but Keith started a business in 1998 and incorporated it as Rock Machinery Technologies, Inc. in 2001. Three years later, they built a shop.
“As part owner, I do all the office work … I hope to retire in 2021,” she said. “Our son Silas has worked for us since 2000 and will probably take over the business whenever we can get Keith to finally retire.”