WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees will soon have a different look when it seats two new members in December.
With elections staff still counting the votes, longtime Trustee Area 4 incumbent Willie Yahiro is currently ahead of opponent Daniel Dodge Jr. by 30 votes, making the race too close to call.
Yahiro pointed out that the current count includes only 933 votes out of a possible 4,000.
“This thing is far from over,” he said. “There are a lot of votes still out.”
Leslie De Rose, who has served in the Trustee Area 5 seat for 12 years, has been ousted by challenger Jennifer Schacher, who has garnered 66.5 percent of the vote.
In an email, De Rose called the results “disappointing.”
“However, I am very proud of the work I did while serving as trustee over the last 12 years,” she said. “We made great progress and I couldn’t have done that without the support of the community. I understand the unions worked very hard to get my opponent elected. I hope the new board will continue being fiscally responsible and keep student achievement as their guiding principle.”
De Rose’s loss — and Yahiro’s close race — come largely thanks to the backing of the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, which announced its endorsements earlier this year.
PVFT also endorsed Dodge and Jennifer Holm, who trounced opponent Bill Beecher for the Trustee Area 7 seat, with more than 70 percent of the vote.
PVFT President Francisco Rodriguez said the union’s support came after the candidates filled out questionnaires, and the union members met to discuss them.
According to Rodriguez, the endorsements hinged on two fundamental questions.
First, PVFT members chose candidates who said they would go above and beyond basic requirements when it comes to reaching out to the community.
“The challengers gave more info about getting the community involved,” Rodriguez said.
The union also chose candidates who said they would move away from the practice of simply selecting lowest bidder when considering project agreements, and instead considered other factors such as safety and whether local labor is used.
After the union announced its endorsements, the members spent time campaigning in the candidates’ districts, Rodriguez said.
“A lot of our members volunteered a lot of time and hours to go out and knock on doors and support the candidates,” he said.
Despite her wide lead over Beecher, Holm was reluctant to claim victory until the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office announces the official count in December.
Still, she said she was happy with the initial numbers.
“I’m humbled by the peoples’ support of me,” she said.
Holm attributed her success to the people who helped on her campaign.
“I didn’t do it myself,” she said. “I had a team of people working with me.”
In the days before she takes her seat, Holm said she plans to speak with the PVUSD superintendent, in addition to present and past board members.
Schacher said she was waiting for the Democratic process to play out before claiming victory.
Her agenda as a board member includes finding ways to recruit and retain teachers, and establishing a “better and well-rounded” curriculum.
“I’m definitely excited to move forward on this new phase in my life,” she said.