Out East Bay dads win school board seats

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022
Share this Post:
Alameda school board member-elect Ryan LaLonde, left, and Oakland school board member-elect Nick Resnick, left, will take office in January. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns<br>
Alameda school board member-elect Ryan LaLonde, left, and Oakland school board member-elect Nick Resnick, left, will take office in January. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns

Two out dads scored historic victories in the November 8 election by winning seats on their East Bay cities' school boards, while two out Bay Area female education leaders also scored historic wins.

Meanwhile, several other out parents seeking school board seats in Alameda and San Mateo counties fell short. And voters rejected more than a dozen candidates seeking education posts who had taken anti-LGBTQ stances in races across Northern California.

In Oakland, Nick Resnick became the first transgender person elected to help oversee a K-12 public school district in California, while Alameda resident Ryan LaLonde is the first out LGBTQ person elected a board member for the island community's public schools.

Serving alongside Resnick as the first-ever known LGBTQ members of the Oakland Unified School District board when they take their oaths of office will be queer labor leader Valarie Bachelor. With 48.31% of the vote, according to the unofficial returns, in the race for the school board's District 6 seat, she defeated Kyra Mungia, who was appointed in June to fill a vacancy.

In Sonoma County, gay married mom Amie Carter, Ph.D. easily won election as the first female Sonoma County superintendent of schools. With her opponent having ended his campaign in August, Carter sailed to victory with 72% of the vote.

"Thank you Sonoma County for electing me as the first female county superintendent in almost 100 years. I feel humbled by the opportunity to lead during these times," Carter tweeted November 11.

She is the second out woman elected to such a countywide education post. San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee, a lesbian, secured a second four-year term this year, as she was unopposed in the June primary.

Resnick, a married father of two sons, is set to become the second trans man serving in an elected education post in the Golden State. Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees member Adam Spickler won reelection this month in his Santa Cruz County contest; four years ago he was unopposed and was automatically appointed to his college board seat, becoming the first trans man to hold an elected office in California.

On election night Resnick landed in first place among the three people seeking the District 4 seat on the Oakland school board. He maintained his lead in the race over the past three weeks, but with thousands of ballots still to be counted, Resnick waited until November 22 to declare victory.

"After nearly two weeks of vote counting, it's finally clear: Oakland parents and neighbors have given me the honor and the privilege of representing our community. I am grateful and humbled by each of your support during this journey," Resnick wrote in an email Tuesday night he sent to thank his supporters.

He noted that because of his victory, "Oakland students and families will have a former OUSD teacher, a current OUSD parent, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community centering every decision back where it belongs: our students' academic and social-emotional success."

LaLonde overcame homophobic attacks to win a seat on the Alameda Unified School District board. He and his husband, Chris Moody, have their 14-year-old son, Farber Moody-LaLonde, enrolled in the East Bay city's schools.

As of November 23 LaLonde had taken second place in the four-candidate race for two school board seats with 30.62% of the vote. Fellow gay married dad Leland Traiman landed in fourth place with 14.78% of the vote.

The day after the election LaLonde had declared victory in the race. In a tweet thread he thanked Alameda voters for casting their ballots for him.

"I know the weight and responsibility this brings with it and I am proud if [it] inspires just one LGBTQ+ student, parent or community member to dream of possibilities. Thank you for making history happen," wrote LaLonde, who chairs Alameda Unified's LGBTQ Round Table for parents, students and staff.

He also heralded his being the first out candidate elected in his city.

"While this campaign was never about me or lofty personal goals, it was symbolic for many marginalized students & families in our schools. I want to acknowledge the history Alameda made last night. Alameda, CA elected its 1st ever openly LGBTQ+ candidate to any public office," wrote LaLonde.

He can lay claim to breaking through that political glass ceiling even though he isn't the first out LGBTQ person to hold elected office in Alameda. That honor went to gay former city councilmember Jim Oddie in 2018. He came out that year in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter but lost his bid that November to be elected to a second four-year term.

Yet, because Oddie landed in third place in the race for two council seats, and another councilmember was elected mayor that November, he was automatically appointed to fill the resulting vacancy on the council. In 2020, Oddie lost his bid for another full council term and again fell short this year.

In Berkeley, bisexual single mom Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos lost her bid for a seat on the city's school board. In San Leandro, bisexual public school leader Abbey Kerins lost her race for the Area 2 seat on her city's school board. (Gay trustee and current school board president James Aguilar was unopposed this year for his Area 6 seat and was automatically appointed to another four-year term.)

On the Peninsula queer and nonbinary single parent Kit Waffle lost their bid for a seat on the San Carlos school board.

Anti-LGBTQ candidates

As for candidates criticized for staking out anti-LGBTQ stances, Lisa Disbrow lost her bid for the Area 2 seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Education. Jennifer Kouvaniaris lost her bid for a seat on the Fremont Unified School District board, as did Maria Elena Moreno Van Maren in the Alameda school board race.

Ingrid Campos came in last in the race for two seats on Palo Alto's school board. Another who generated headlines for his antigay views, Dennis Delisle, lost his bid for a Morgan Hill school board seat.

The two were among the 15 South Bay school board candidates endorsed by the Silicon Valley Association of Republican Women who failed to win election. As ABC 7 News had reported, many said on their campaign sites that they were against discussing gender identities, like being transgender, in school.

But four school board candidates the GOP group did endorse won election in Morgan Hill (Pamela Gardner) and to seats on three San Jose school boards: Alum Rock (Linda Chavez), Evergreen (Jim Zito) and Franklin-McKinley (Marc Cooper).

In the Sacramento region, two candidates running for seats on the Natomas Unified School District board who came under fire from LGBTQ leaders for their positions on LGBTQ issues — Megan Allen and Monique Hokman — both lost their races.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.