Millennium Countdown: 1986
Paper: Nevada Appeal – 14 days to the millennium – Thursday, Dec. 18, 1986
President: Donald W. Reynolds
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Douglas politician helps open door for women
By Kelli Du Fresne
The Dec. 14, 1986 edition of the Nevada Appeal recorded a couple of firsts for Douglas County.
The headline was “1st woman to sit on Douglas Commission after 125 years.” The story said: MINDEN -Welcome to the 21st century, Douglas County.
Not since Dec. 28, 1861, when S.A. Kinsey, Hiram Mott and Henry Van Sickle convened the first-ever Douglas County Commission, has Douglas County seen a woman as a chairman of the commission.
The three men met that day to divide the Douglas County region into six precincts. Genoa, Clear Creek, Lake Valley, Mottsville, Mammoth and Walker River.
When commissioners convene Jan. 5, 1986 – 125 years later – Jerry Bing, 43, will become the first Douglas County Commission chairwoman, according to a poll of commissioners taken by the Nevada Appeal.
Commission Chairman Bob Pruett, Commissioners Barbara Cook, Bob Oswald and Bing, and commissioner elect Mike Fischer all acknowledge that the move will more than likely occur.
Bing is only the second woman the commission has seen. The first, Cook, arrived as commissioner in 1981. Bing took office in 1985, having beaten incumbent Commissioner M.D. Meyer.
“If the board feels that they have confidence in my ability, and want me as its chairman, then I would be happy to consider the post,” Bing said.
“I feel that Chairman Pruett has been a good chairman and I would be honored to follow in his footsteps.”
If elected chairwoman, Bing said she would like to see the commissioners “start out fresh with no family squabbles.”
“I would hope to see that the new board of commissioners would agree to disagree,” Bing said. Though, “We do have differences of opinion. I hope we would respect each other’s opinion.”
The commissioners seem united in Bing’s chances to become chairman.
“She seems to have a good head on her shoulders,” Oswald said. “She likes to talk,” indicating she doesn’t shy away from asking delicate questions of those who appear before the board.
“It seems that’s pretty much a consensus of the board,” Fischer said.
As for internal commission rumors that Fischer will be commission vice chairman, a post Bing held for the last two years, he said. “I expect nothing except death and taxes and I hope neither are imminent.”
When pressed, Fischer said, “I think I could handle the job.”
Commissioner Cook, who because of behind the scenes political struggles lost her bid to Bing two years ago to become vice chairman, said, “I think she’ll be an excellent one. I hope the board will get along better.”
Outgoing commissioner Herb Witt said, “I think Jerry Bing will do a good job. She does her homework.”
Witt and Bing, each a Republican, split on issues but remained friendly.
“It’s very obvious that I don’t always agree with her,” Witt said.
Said Commission Chairman Pruett:
“I think there’s a lot of lot of sentiment out there that they’d like to have some progressive young people on there,” Pruett said.
“I would like to say this about the future administration. I will back the chairman wholeheartedly. I will try to make our opinion collectively presented to the chairman so it can be carried out.”
Pruett added that he wants Bing to retain more control and backing from the board.
At the time, Bing had been an accountant for 15 years.
She has also has served on a variety of local government boards, including eight years on the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District, four years on the commission and as a member of the county’s Master Plan Steering Committee.
Bing in two years claimed another first for Douglas County as the first county commission chairman or chairwoman to be ousted from the post.
Sheriff’s department reports said Bing was seen by a deputy weaving while traveling south on Highway 395 on March 18, 1988.
In the report, the arresting deputy said he had to pull sharply to the right to avoid a head-on collision. Bing turned onto Riverview Drive where she was stopped.
Bing then refused to take a field sobriety test and asked the officer to forget the incident and let her go home. Bing pleaded no contest, but lost her license for a year because she refused to take a breath or blood test.
Bing lost her second election bid in 1988 to Dave Pumphrey, who defeated her again in 1992.
Since the 1992 race, Bing hasn’t dipped her toe into the political pool and doesn’t have any plans to jump in now either, but is “watching politics very closely.”
“I did my thing,” she said. “I helped open the door for women in politics. I’m pleased that I opened some doors and allowed other women to get into races. I think it’s important to have a good balance. I think women give another perspective to the political arena.
“I’m very pleased I was part of that. It certainly wasn’t easy, but anything good is not easy.”
Bing said the “hardest part was letting the men know that women can do the job. I often felt that the women seemed to see business as business and didn’t let personal things come into it. I think we dealt with personnel issues better. The men seemed to say ‘poor fella, he’s got a family.’ It was true but you’d think it would be the opposite. But I didn’t find it that way, at least when Barbara and I were on the board. We were the tough old broads.”
Bing said she spends her time now golfing, going to the gym and enjoying her daughter, Jamey.
Bing came down with pneumonia in February of 1993 and spent two weeks in a coma and two more weeks in the hospital.
“I came out of the hospital in a walker,” she said. “I’m recovered and am back playing golf. It took a good four years to recover but I’m well.
“It was scary. It was very scary, but now I’m moving along enjoying life and enjoying my daughter who is now 19 and coming home from college in Florida.”