In the race for the Ward 3 seat on the North Platte school board, Fiona Libsack and Mark Nicholson square off. Both are first time candidates.

Here is a look at each candidate. We asked each of them the same questions.

Mark Nicholson, 36

Occupation: Mechanical Service Operator for the Union Pacific Railroad .

What experiences will make you a good officeholder?

I’m a union officer in my craft who has become used to representing the interests of others. I’ve also served as my union’s political organizer, which means I have a lot of experience interacting with all levels of government.

My education was in history with a minor in political science, with a master’s degree in history.

I’ve always been interested in civic matters and feel I can provide good and knowledgeable representation.


What do you hope to accomplish?

I hope to bring focus to our educational system and continue providing it with the support it needs to help our next generation grow. If teachers cannot provide our young people with the foundation they need to be productive in society, we have little hope of a solid future for them.

As our thoughts have gone to budgets and taxes, it is worrisome that ultimate goal of getting youths ready for adulthood in whatever field they choose to pursue will be lost.

The money is very important, but we cannot forget what that money is meant to do.

What do you think of these three issues:

School security –

School security is very important. Hopefully, local law enforcement can be worked with to provide expedient solutions to rising problems. The North Platte Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office should make good partners in this endeavor.

Closing Buffalo –

I hope there are no plans to close Buffalo school at this time. Closing it would cause hardship for families getting their children to school in that area. Though it seems the population of school age children in that area is currently low, it is shortsighted in how quickly demographics can change and may be a large school in just a decade or so.

Drug testing for students / teachers –

Drug testing may be necessary under the circumstances. If it is a policy, hopefully all students will be given whatever help is necessary to aid them with their problems.

Family, other pertinent information: I live in North Platte with my wife, Heather Nicholson. We belong to a group that works to help with voter education in the county. As I stated, I’m a very active member of my union, and I always try to help where I can.


Fiona Libsack, 48 Occupation: Great Plains Health Chief Development Officer

Experiences that will make you a good board member?

In addition to being a parent who cares about the well-being of children, I am in a career that has helped prepare me for a school board role. For most of my career, I have been involved in strategic planning, development, public relations, marketing and professional education.

Currently, I lead the Great Plains Health education department (among other duties) and serve as an adjunct professor for the Executive Healthcare MBA program at Creighton University.

My elected official experience includes serving on the Scottsbluff city council for eight years, including several years as mayor. I have volunteered in many capacities including board member positions in United Way, Rotary, North Platte Wellness and Recreation Alliance, North Platte Parks and Recreation Foundation, North Platte Kids Academy and the Nebraska Hospital Association Policy Development Committee.

My husband Rick and I are the parents of four children, two of whom have benefited from excellent teachers in the North Platte public school system. The other two were grown before we relocated to North Platte.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Wyoming.


What do you hope to accomplish?

I am running because I am passionate about education and believe there is no higher purpose than to ensure that our children develop the skills they need to become successful, hard-working, value-driven respectful adults.

I would do my very best to ensure that taxpayers have a voice in decisions that affect our students and local public school system. I will work hard to ensure that unnecessary barriers that our students and teachers face are eliminated and will remain committed to the deployment of innovative, effective strategies that effectively deliver education to learners of all types.


What do you think about these important issues facing the North Platte school district?

School security –

In today’s world, we have no choice but to make school security one of our highest priorities. Awful things can happen anywhere. We need to equip our school system with the ability to protect our students and ensure that the educational environment in North Platte is as safe as possible.

Closing Buffalo –

The decision to close a school, any school, should not be taken lightly. It cannot be considered until all of the facts are known, projections are accurately assessed and the community opinion is heard.

Drug tests for students/ faculty —

Regarding drug testing in schools, I support it. Having worked in the healthcare industry for the past 20 years, I see first-hand the devastating impact drug use can have on an individual and the community as a whole.

The earlier a drug issue can be identified and treated, the greater the chance that treatment will be effective.

Also As a school board member, I would help ensure implementation of the following:

– Innovative solutions that help expose tech and skilled-labor professions to more of our local students.

– Greater college readiness in math core competencies among our students.

– A consortium with builders and other skilled-labor employers for a combined training/work track.

– A greater number of internships for high school students and not just high-level exposure.


Family: Husband: Rick. Children: Clinton (an electrician living in Phoenix, AZ), Samantha (dental hygienist living in Las Vegas, NV), Morgan (a sophomore at the University of Nebraska) and Maxton (a sixth grader at Madison Middle School).