Update: Ackerman, Lucas lead in Menlo Park City School District board race


Two candidates seen by many as "outsiders," David Ackerman and Caroline Lucas, appear to have been elected to four-year terms on the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District.

The race is still close, however, and outcome could change. San Mateo County says nearly 100,000 votes, or about 25 percent of the county's registered voters, remain uncounted.

David Ackerman

Caroline Lucas
If 25 percent of the votes from the Menlo Park district's registered voters remain uncounted, it could be more than 4,300 ballots. By the end of Election Day, 9,842 ballots had been counted in the district.

While both of the current leading candidates do have ties to the district – Mr. Ackerman is a retired Oak Knoll School principal and Ms. Lucas had children in the district and is a Spanish teacher in the neighboring Las Lomitas school district – the other two candidates were seen as members of the district "establishment."

Scott Saywell, who trailed Ms. Lucas by 168 votes after all precincts reported, is the president of the site council at Laurel School and has two young children in the district.

Alka Gupta, who trailed Mr. Saywell by 69 votes, is the co-president of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation board with a 9-year-old son in district schools.

The district has been reeling since voters failed to approve two parcel tax measures in May, leaving the district with decisions on how to cut the budget and/or propose a new tax measure. Ms. Lucas was aligned with those who campaigned against the parcel taxes, and has been a critic of many district actions.

With all precincts reporting, but some unknown number of mail-in and provisional ballots yet to count, Mr. Ackerman is in the lead with 3,819 votes, followed by Ms. Lucas with 3,274.

Close behind are Scott Saywell with 3,106 votes and Alka Gupta with 3,037.

Scott Hinshaw, whose name was on the ballot but who had dropped out of the race, received 1,184 votes.

The five candidates filed to run for the two open seats on the five-member school board when incumbents Jeff Child and Maria Hilton decided not to run again.

Mr. Hinshaw announced on Sept. 23 that for personal reasons he was withdrawing from the race. He said he could not serve if he were elected.

David Ackerman

Mr. Ackerman said he thinks there were "four good candidates" in the election. The fact that so many candidates ran, despite the difficulties the district is facing "showed that people are really interested in the schools and want the schools to succeed," he said. "It's certainly why I stepped up."

"I'm encouraged by the win," he said, "by the faith that people have in my leadership."

Mr. Ackerman said the district's immediate priority "has to be the finances of the school district. A solution has to be found in terms of the deficit they're running," he said. "I think we have to do more than just balance the books. The school district has to move forward and continue to get better."

He said he favors putting a parcel tax measure on the March ballot at some level higher than just a renewal of the expiring tax.

Caroline Lucas

Ms. Lucas said she is "grateful to the voters for electing me" and also expressed appreciation for her "opponents' dedication to serving our community."

She said that despite the fact that there had been some negative campaigning, "I stand ready to work with the current board members and school district in true collaboration to maintain the strong schools they have built."

"From the beginning of this campaign, I have made it clear what is important to me: maintaining strong schools through fiscal responsibility, transparency and community outreach," she said. "I will continue to work for those priorities."

The San Mateo County Elections Office says it will update the vote count at 4:30 p.m. on these days: Thursday, Nov. 10; Tuesday, Nov. 15; Friday, Nov. 18; and Wednesday, Nov. 23.

See latest count.

The district currently has 17,424 registered voters, according to the county, and by the end of Election Day, 9,842 votes had been counted.

See Voter Guide story on this race.

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12 people like this
Posted by Resident-
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:16 pm

We really need people with fresh ideas for the school board- Preferably parents with a vested interest in our City and our schools.

Otherwise we may be getting the same old... same old stale ideas- That type of "leadership" we do not need in our City of Menlo Park or our Schools!

Did the voters really think this one through and do their homework before casting their votes ?!?

There were other solid choices-

4 years can be a very long time---

4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


yes, I think voters "thought this through." They voted for an outsider. One not a member of the insider "cabal," that have totally "screwed the pooch. I like that term "cabal." Thanks Terry.

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