Results remain unchanged in Bay Area school races with out candidates

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday November 9, 2023
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Clay Hale, left, continues to lead in his San Jose college board race, while Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez is still trailing in her Oakland school board race. Photos: Courtesy the candidates
Clay Hale, left, continues to lead in his San Jose college board race, while Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez is still trailing in her Oakland school board race. Photos: Courtesy the candidates

With new tallies in the November 7 special elections for Bay Area education board seats, it appears only one of the two out education leaders who ran will win election.

San Jose teacher Clay Hale continues to hold his top place finish in the contest for a Santa Clara County college board seat. Meanwhile, Oakland resident Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez remains in second place in her race for a seat on the board that oversees her city's public schools.

They both vied to serve out the terms of former officeholders who resigned after winning election to different positions last November. Both terms run through the end of 2024, meaning the winners of the races need to seek full four-year terms on the November 2024 ballot.

Hale, a gay man, had sought election to the District 7 seat on the body that oversees the San José-Evergreen Community College District in Santa Clara County. The seven-person board currently has no LGBTQ representation on it.

Its seat centered in downtown San Jose is vacant due to gay San Jose City Councilmember Omar Torres resigning from it after being elected to his city's governing body last November. Hale, who works for the East Side Union High School District, was one of five candidates seeking to serve out the remainder of Torres' term through the end of next year.

On election night Hale landed in first place with 47% percent of the vote but did not declare victory due to there being additional ballots to count. After election officials updated the tally Thursday, Hale continued to lead with 47% of the vote.

He now outpaces second-place finisher, nonprofit education official Lisanna Dominguez, by 846 votes, extending his lead by nearly 100 votes. Another updated vote count is expected at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Hale did not immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter's interview requests November 9 on if he was ready to declare victory in the race. On Tuesday he had expressed optimism about winning the seat, writing in a Facebook post that his supporters had "brought us closer to bringing a teacher's perspective to the San José-Evergreen Community College District."

Anthony Macias, a gay Republican who is a perennial candidate in San Jose, had also run for the college board seat. He remains in last place with 234 votes, according to the current tally.

Oakland race results

In Oakland, Ritzie-Hernandez ran for a seat on the Oakland Unified School District board. A resident of the city's Fruitvale district who uses both she and they pronouns, Ritzie-Hernandez was vying to succeed school board member Mike Hutchinson in the District 5 area covering several of Oakland's eastern neighborhoods.

Having been redistricted into the board's District 4 area, Hutchinson ran for the seat last fall. Due to a mix up by the county registrar, transgender married dad Nick Resnick had been declared the winner and sworn into office in January. But faced with a lawsuit over the results, Resnick resigned from the seat and Hutchinson was sworn into office earlier this year.

He backed the other candidate in the District 5 race, retired educator and principal Jorge Lerma. The teachers union supported Ritzie-Hernandez, who last week picked up a late endorsement from the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club, the LGBTQ political group for Alameda County.

The school board's sole LGBTQ member, queer District 6 Trustee Valarie Bachelor, had also endorsed Ritzie-Hernandez in the contest. Bachelor won election last year to the oversight body.

According to the unofficial returns as of Wednesday morning, Lerma was in first place with 2,006 votes for 62% percent of those ballots counted. Ritzie-Hernandez trailed by 553 votes.

With the updated count posted Thursday, Lerma remained in the lead but saw his share of the count decrease to 57%. Still in second was Ritzie-Hernandez with 42.60% of the vote, though her deficit had declined slightly to 517 votes.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lerma had yet to declare victory. But he had expressed confidence in winning the seat in a Facebook post Tuesday, while noting an estimated roughly 7,000 ballots had been cast.

Friday morning Lerma posted, "We remain optimistic about the result and immensely grateful for each of your efforts."

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