Two-term Palo Alto Board of Education member Melissa Baten Caswell appears to have been elected to her third term, based on unofficial election results from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Two challengers in the Palo Alto school board race, Jennifer DiBrienza and Todd Collins, have secured wins, while incumbents Heidi Emberling and Melissa Baten Caswell continued to be in a tight race for the third seat as of Wednesday, according to unofficial election results from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Though the Registrar said all 48 precincts had reported their numbers as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, mail-in ballots are being received and counted through Friday.
Jennifer DiBrienza, a former teacher who billed herself as a much-needed educator's voice on the board, held a healthy lead ever since early tallies were released at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Three hours later, she had 28.4 percent of the votes, or 11,785. By 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, she had pulled in 13,005 votes.
Collins, a private investor who made the school district's current budget deficit the focus of his campaign, was consistently following DiBrienza throughout the evening. By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, he had accrued 9,329 votes.
Baten Caswell and Emberling were in a near-dead heat Tuesday evening, trailing Collins closely. After 11 p.m., current board President Emberling was barely ahead with 7,914 votes compared to Baten Caswell's 7,885 (both about 19 percent of the vote).
By Wednesday morning, Baten Caswell had pulled ahead, however, with 34 more votes than Emberling at 10:30 a.m.
Srinivasan Subramanian, who withdrew from the race in September, has netted 8.7 percent percent of the vote, close to 4,000 votes.
Subramanian tweeted his congratulations to the candidates Wednesday morning, writing, "Thank you all for your support and encouragement! I'm humbled and deeply grateful!"
Results consistently showed contender Jay Cabrera, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2014 school-board race, pulling in about 4.6 percent of the vote.
At an election party at the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto on Tuesday night, DiBrienza said she was "really excited that my message and my expertise and what I want to bring to the board resonated with voters."
Community members have told DiBrienza, she said, that they saw a more diverse set of people campaigning for her across Palo Alto throughout the election people who haven't traditionally been involved in the local race.
"I'm not sure what it was because I have kids in elementary school, because of my PhD (in education) but I pulled in more people that hadn't been pulled in before, and that showed tonight," she told the Weekly.
Emberling, who was also at the Garden Court with her supporters for part of the night, was less optimistic early in the evening.
"We'll see. Elections are unpredictable this evening," she said, referring to the presidential race.
Collins, reached at his home after 9 p.m., said, "If I'm lucky enough to be elected, I look forward to working with whoever else is on the board to put kids first."
Baten Caswell, also at the Garden Court hotel, was waiting for more concrete results, even after 9 p.m. when the majority of precincts had reported.
"It's not over until all the precincts come in," she told the Weekly. "It's a night of surprises."
If re-elected, Emberling, a former journalist and now parent educator, would be serving her second term. Baten Caswell would be entering her third. A former business manager and now software-firm CEO, she first won a seat in 2007.
As of Wednesday at 7 a.m., Registrar of Voters stated that 57 percent of Santa Clara County ballots had been counted, though all of Palo Alto's precincts had reported their in-hand results by 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to capture ongoing coverage of the school-board election. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.