Over the last eight years, four members of the Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees have claimed that their elections represented a mandate for change.
Tuesday voters issued their own mandate for change, dealing out unequivocal defeats to incumbents Ina Bendis and Christine Koltermann, as well as to their political ally newcomer Michael Helms.
In Trustee Area Two (Old Jefferson), with two seats up for election this year, challengers Jodi Muirhead and Noelani Sallings enjoyed decisive wins. Muirhead led the pack with 32 percent of the vote, followed by Sallings with 26 percent. Koltermann and Bendis trailed more than 10 points behind, with 15 percent and 12 percent respectively.
“We need stability to let things settle down, and let our staff know that they’re safe,” said Muirhead, referring both to the conflict that has increasingly fractured the district, and a history of harassment complaints against Trustees Bendis and Christopher Stampolis. “Then we can discuss how we can make our schools better. Good communication is the key, and I’m looking forward to building a good relationship with the City.”
Sallings is the first Asian-American ever to be elected to any office in Santa Clara, as well as to the SCUSD Board. Echoing Muirhead, she said, “The first thing is to restore civility to the Board.”
In Trustee Area Three (Old Santa Clara) incumbent Andrew Ratermann trounced challenger Michael Helms by 20 points, taking 60 percent of the vote.
“I’ve never seen such a welling up of grass roots support like we saw in this election,” said Ratermann, referring to the hundreds of volunteers who walked precincts in the last few months, both for the candidates and the Measure H bond.
“We now have an enormous responsibility to deliver,” he said. “Now the real work starts.”
Measure H Garners Broad Support
Tuesday’s biggest winner was the Measure H bond, which captured 69 percent of the vote. The big win was a surprise, after sample polling results that showed the bond passing by a narrow majority. The $450 million bond will fund desperately needed renovations as well as building new schools, and reopening closed schools, to serve the growing population.
New Face on West Valley Mission College Board
Another of Tuesday’s big wins was scored by newcomer Anne Kepner, vying with former San Jose City Council Member Pete Constant for the West Valley Community College District Trustee Area 4, a seat held for many years by retiring Trustee Buck Polk. Kepner received 59 percent of the vote, while Constant came in a distant second with 41 percent.
Newcomer is Top Vote-Getter in Campbell Union Districts
Former Cambrian elementary school district trustee Stacey Brown led the pack in the Campbell Union High School District race for three seats, taking 30 percent of the vote – attesting to the effectiveness of her active grassroots campaign.
Incumbent Wendy-Dillingham-Plew took second place with 25 percent of the vote, while CUHSD sitting president Matthew Dean took third place with 24 percent of the vote.
Campbell Union elementary school district returned all three incumbents, Julie Constant (29 percent), Danielle Cohen (27 percent), and Thomas Gemetti (24 percent).
As expected, former San Jose City Council Member Kansen Chu won the race to represent District 25 in the State Assembly, while former Assemblyman Bob Wiekowski will return to Sacramento as State Senator for District 10.