With 98% of the votes counted, incumbent Catherine Vonnegut and newcomers Esmeralda Ortiz and Thida Cornes appear to have secured seats on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District's board. Fourth place finisher Eric Mark has conceded the race.
Six candidates were vying for three seats on the high school district's board in the Nov. 8 general election. Current board members Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok decided not to run, leaving Vonnegut as the only incumbent in the field.
Vonnegut secured 25.09% of the vote, as of Wednesday, Nov. 23, with Ortiz close behind at 24.7%. Cornes and Mark were in a tight race for the third spot, with Cornes receiving 17.13% of the vote to Mark's 16.06%. Carrol Ann Titus-Zambre and Jacquie Tanner received 9.24% and 7.77%, respectively.
Ortiz told the Voice that she was shocked and excited when she first saw the election results, particularly because she is a first-time candidate. Although she hasn't run for office before, Ortiz has experience working with high school students as vice president of high school and post secondary success programs at the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula.
"I'm obviously very excited and grateful that so many members of the community got to hear about my candidacy, my platform," Ortiz said.
Once she starts on the board, Ortiz said her first focus will be on listening and understanding where conversations currently stand on various issues. She also plans to prioritize her top campaign issues, which include diversifying the post-graduation options that are presented to students, focusing on students' social and emotional well being, and working to improve the transition between middle and high school.
Vonnegut, first elected in 2018, said in an election night interview that she was thrilled to get another term on the board. She plans to use the next four years to focus on issues including mental health, implementing new courses and continuing to address the learning loss that some students experienced during the pandemic.
"I'm glad we can continue some of the initiatives that we were working on. And it will be exciting to see what the new folks have to add," Vonnegut said.
Cornes said in an interview that she is committed to serving the community and plans to focus on her three campaign priorities: mental health and wellness, academic achievement for all students regardless of background, and fiscal accountability and transparency.
"I'm very humbled, honored and grateful to be elected. I couldn't have done it without the support of many in the community," said Cornes, who ran unsuccessfully for Mountain View City Council in 2016.
She has previously served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission for eight years, as well as various Mountain View Whisman School District committees.
Mark has reached out to Cornes to concede the race, both candidates confirmed. In an interview last week, Mark said that he was glad that he ran and found it uplifting to see how many supporters he had as a first-time candidate. He said that he hasn't ruled out the possibility of running again.
Mark said that he plans to stay involved and continue volunteering in local schools and is open to assisting the board members in any way that he can.
"I'm happy to help in any capacity. … I was planning on doing it anyway, so if they need the help, I will definitely throw my hat in there," Mark said.
Vonnegut, Ortiz and Cornes will join Sanjay Dave and Phil Faillace on the district's five-member board.
The Registrar of Voters will certify the final election results on Dec. 8.