News - November 16, 2011

Election 2011: High school race: Challengers lead pack

by Dave Boyce

Challengers finished a strong first and second in the Nov. 8 election for three seats on the five-member board of the Sequoia Union High School District. Just 50 votes separate the two three-term incumbents who came in third and fourth.

Real estate agent and elementary school board member Carrie B. Du Bois of San Carlos and Stanford University law school lecturer Allen Weiner of Menlo Park took two seats with 25.4 percent and 22.2 percent of the votes, respectively. The Sequoia board governs four comprehensive high schools in San Mateo County, including Menlo-Atherton and Woodside high schools.

Incumbent and Redwood City resident and businesswoman Lorraine Rumley, with 19.24 percent, was edging out retired community college professor and incumbent Olivia Martinez of Menlo Park, with 19.15 percent, according to a Nov. 10 update from the county Elections Office. East Palo Alto resident and community activist Larry Moody came in fifth with 14 percent of the vote.

The latest vote counts are: Carrie B. Du Bois, 14,631; Allen Weiner, 12,776; Lorraine Rumley, 11,081; Olivia G. Martinez, 11,029; and Larry James Moody, 8,082. Further updates to the vote tally are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and on Thursday, Nov. 17.

About 26 percent of registered voters cast ballots countywide.

Candidates react

"I don't know if it's real yet," Ms. Du Bois said in a post-election interview. "I'm excited about the opportunity to help kids."

Ms. Du Bois said she spent election night at a party of mixed demographics as residents of wealthy Atherton sat next to residents of the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park. "It was a very special night," she said. "Some of my friends had never been to Belle Haven."

Asked to comment on his victory, Mr. Weiner said that the campaign was "very, very policy based where we talked about ideas," and that he saw a message from voters in that the challengers finished first and second: "The schools are not in good shape and we want you to take them to the next level," he said.

The focus, he said, would be on the achievement gap, the dropout rate and career technical education.

Ms. Rumley has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Ms. Martinez did respond. "I've had a wonderful 12 years on the board. I'm very satisfied," she said in a phone interview. "The good Lord has another plan for me now and I completely accept that."

Mr. Moody, a former board member of the Ravenswood City School District, which represents East Palo Alto and Belle Haven, compared the election to a marathon. "I didn't win but I finished the race," he said. "It's high time that Ravenswood is represented on that board."

More than 8,000 people cast votes for Mr. Moody, with maybe 500 of them from East Palo Alto if the tally for that city's Sanitary District is any guide.

He knocked on a lot of doors, he said.

"We had to travel in some areas that (residents) were not accustomed to seeing an African American male talking about education," he said. "To be able to get into those (living) rooms, it's a huge gain. It's something we can build on."


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