Two incumbents and a former Mountain View Whisman district trustee are the top three vote-getters in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District board election. Election results as of Wednesday morning show challenger Fiona Walter in the lead, closely followed by incumbents Joe Mitchner and Debbie Torok.
There were seven candidates for three seats on the school board, and the initial barrage of election results Tuesday night showed a comfortable lead for Walter, Mitchner and Torok.
Walter appears to be the biggest winner in the election, receiving 6,868 votes and just shy of 20 percent. Right behind her was Torok with 6,181 votes (18.5 percent) and Mitchner with 6,044 votes (18 percent).
Candidates Sanjay Dave and Dana Bunnett tracked at 4,650 (13.9 percent) and 4,408 (13.2 percent), respectively. Trailing them were Doug Moore at 2,936 (8.8 percent) and Kevin Kramer with 2,386 (7.1 percent).
Fiona Walter was cautiously optimistic with her early lead as she attended an election night party at Steins Beer Garden and Restaurant with candidates from other races, including Margaret Abe-Koga, Gary Kremen and Ellen Kamei.
Walter said she was thrilled with the election results, and wanted to give a "huge thanks" to the team effort that people put into her campaign. She said she didn't run a top-down campaign with leadership roles, a treasurer or a campaign manager, and instead relied on everyone to pitch in with all the groundwork.
Walter said she thinks her success this election comes from both because of her past experience and her effective campaign effort.
"I hope it's because of both my experience on the (Mountain View Whisman) school board as well as the successful campaign," Walter said.
In an email, Torok said she was happy to be in the top three and was hopeful that the results would hold beyond Tuesday night. She said it would be an honor to serve another term advocating for students.
"MVLA high schools are in the top in the nation and I am hopeful that I can continue to be a part of that success," Torok said.
Mitchner said he did not plan to spend the election night at a party or event. Instead, he spent election night collecting lawn signs and going out to dinner with his wife, who helped him "a ton" during the campaign. He said the campaign was all-encompassing for two to three months straight, and he spent time walking precincts and talking to residents.
Following the election results, Mitchner said he was thrilled to receive the support of the community and continue to work with the district.
"People are pleased with their schools and the direction with which they're going," Mitchner said.
Bunnett said it was great to get to know all the candidates, and that she felt the winners this election would do a good job serving on the board. She said the seven candidates running for school board race put extra attention on the school board and their role in local schools, which she believes is a positive thing.
"People understand how important the (school) board race is," Bunnett said.
Despite the loss to the incumbents, Bunnett said will continue to stay engaged with the school board, and would be willing to try again when seats are up for re-election.
The election was one of only two contested elections the district has had since the 1990s. Incumbent Judy Hannemann announced her retirement and did not run for re-election, giving the board an open seat. Hannemann endorsed Dave, a fellow Mountain View Rotary Club member, as her choice to replace her on the board.
Some candidates, like former CEO Doug Moore and Yahoo executive Kevin Kramer, said that they would take a more active role on the school board. Moore in particular said the board acted as a rubber stamp for Superintendent Barry Groves, and wanted to see a big turnover in the election. Although Kramer and Moore both attended candidate forums, neither of them raised or spent more than $1,000 in the election, and neither had a campaign website.