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Woodside school board: Edwards, Johnson elected

 

Incumbents Silvia Edwards and Kevin Johnson were elected Tuesday to the board of the Woodside Elementary School District.

San Mateo County's count by the end of Election Day showed Ms. Edwards with 406 votes; Mr. Johnson, 345; and Joel Hornstein, 189.


Silvia Edwards

Kevin Johnson

Joel Hornstein
Mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day and in the mail have yet to be counted. An important new feature of this election is that ballots postmarked on Election Day will be counted if received by Friday. In past elections, ballots had to be received at polling places or the Elections Office by Election Day to be counted.

All three candidates are parents with children in the one-school district.

Silvia Edwards

Ms. Edwards, 43, was appointed to the board in May after board member Rudy Driscoll announced he would resign at the end of the school year. Mr. Driscoll died soon after he left office in June.

At the time of her appointment, Ms. Edwards was one of seven candidates for the position. She was nominated by Mr. Driscoll because, he said then, her construction experience would be valuable during the district's current $18 million construction project. Her appointment was unanimous.

Ms. Edwards graduated from Stanford University and the University of Virginia School of Law. She managed construction and sales of single-family homes in Nevada as well spending several years doing trial work as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the eastern district of Virginia.

"I'm just really looking forward to continuing to serve the school board with Kevin and the other board members," Ms. Edwards said the day after the election. "I want to continue to reach out to Joel and work with him, because he has a lot to offer." She said she had told Mr. Hornstein she hopes he continues to be involved in the school.

Ms. Edwards said the school board is currently working to finish major construction on the campus and is beginning to think about "security measures in our school to make our school safer for kids." The board is considering fencing and security cameras and lighting, but plans to reach out to neighbors and the town before moving forward.

Kevin Johnson

Mr. Johnson, 49, is completing his first four-year term on the school board. He graduated from Cornell University School of Electrical Engineering and Hofstra University School of Law and is an attorney with Quinn Emanuel in Redwood Shores.

Mr. Johnson says his legal experience has been "more important than I thought it would be" on the school board because "every board meeting we've had ... there have been a number of legal issues we've faced."

Mr. Johnson said he thinks that as a Spanish speaker he has "represented the underserved and more silent" families in the district. He serves on the district's English learners' advisory committee. He also speaks French.

Mr. Johnson said he is "very happy to have been re-elected to the school board. We have an amazing community and an excellent school where our children come first," he said. He said he is looking forward to continuing to work with fellow board members, Dr. Polito, the school administrators, teachers and parents. "I would like to thank everyone for their support throughout the election," he said.

Joel Hornstein

Mr. Hornstein, 45, had said during the campaign that he would bring to the board a special expertise in finance, "a skill set lacking on the current board." Mr. Hornstein graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School and worked at Goldman Sachs and for Citigroup in private equity. He is now an entrepreneur and investor.

"I really do think that finance is critical to the oversight of the district," he said.

Mr. Hornstein has also been on the school's site council, the school's technology committee and has served on the boards of other organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit.

"As the only non-incumbent in this race, my candidacy was always a long shot," Mr. Hornstein said after it became apparent on election night that he would not be joining the school board. "I am grateful to all those who supported me in my run," he said. "I look forward to continuing my work to make our great school even better."

Election drama

The election had some drama early on when at a League of Women Voters' forum on Oct. 1, Mr. Hornstein accused Mr. Johnson of missing "just about one in three board meetings over the entire term" and "just over 50 percent this year." Mr. Johnson was actually absent from nine meetings over four years and two meetings out of 10 in 2015, but Mr. Hornstein said he counted "missing a meeting" not just as being absent, but also as participating over the phone or leaving a meeting before it ended.

Mr. Johnson said that while he had missed meetings he was an effective board member. "A lot of the things that I help with as a board member occur outside of the board meetings," he said. "I'm incredibly dedicated to this position," he said.

At the same candidates' forum, Mr. Hornstein also accused Mr. Johnson of sending "his elder two children to private school for sixth grade," which turned out to be incorrect.

Mr. Johnson said that his oldest child attended Woodside Elementary from the third grade, when the family moved to Woodside, through eighth grade. His middle child had stayed at Nueva School when the family moved from San Mateo, but this year he chose to attend Woodside for eighth grade, where he thought he would be better prepared for high school, Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Hornstein later publicly apologized for the false statements about Mr. Johnson's children, telling the Almanac, "I made an error in judgment."

Later, after all the current school board members endorsed Mr. Johnson and Ms. Edwards, Mr. Hornstein said he was "suspending his campaign," but that he would serve if elected.

Read more here

● See the Almanac story about the League of Women Voters forum.

● See the Almanac story about Mr. Hornstein's suspension of his campaign.

● See the Almanac's Voter's Guide story about the candidates.

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