Town Square

Klausner storms ahead in school board race

Original post made on Nov 7, 2007

Barbara Klausner has emerged as a clear victor in the race for a seat on Palo Alto's school board with 8,992 votes, while Melissa Baten Caswell is in second with 6,089, according to the latest figures.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 1:02 AM


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:08 am

Although I voted for Klausner, I am surprised at the magnitude of her victory. Especially compared to Townsend, who had all the advantages of incumbency. The fact that Townsend seems to have barely won re-election will certainly send a message to the other incumbents that we want to see changes in the way the board functions. It would seem pretty clear that if either Hausser or Ezran hadn't been running, Townsend would have lost.

Posted by So long S PA, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:16 am

Now that we've removed the last blot of representation for south Palo Alto, isn't it time we get rid of PiE and start allowing the parents to fund the great schools in the north to their hearts' content? With 4 members from the North and one from the LA Hills, why worry what white trash of south Palo Alto think?

More money for the north!
More facilities for Paly!
Go North!

Posted by Thank goodness it is done!!, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:17 am

I am delighted about Klausner ...I suspect many voted for her less for her stance on issues ( which were great) and more because she is a teacher who had worked in our District on site and from the District office.

I suspect many people who have no clue about the candidates vote on such factors as this or incumbency or because this one is from France and that one is from China etc... I have even heard stories from precinct walkers who are told by voters that someone has their vote "because he is a man" or "because he is a woman".

It is amazing our democracy works with so much ignorance and incredibly irrelevant reasons for voting for someone.

But, there is no better alternative, and I am grateful we live here.

Posted by James, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:18 am

Great election, and what a cliffhanger with Townsend and Hausser! That outcome will be interesting.

Ezran can stop whining now...

...and be a good sport like Liu

Posted by James, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:21 am

To the person above my post earlier, ignorance can only be combated through thoughtfully intelligent people like you who cajole the people around you to actually pick up the Weekly or Daily to read and become informed

Posted by I wish I could have voted for Mr. Liu, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:29 am

I have to say...I really like Mr. Liu's attitude about the whole thing. He has always been a happy, respectful, honorable and honest person. I wish I had agreed with his answers on more issues. I almost voted for him for a couple of his answers that were a breath of fresh air and appealed to me tremendously. His responses to achievement gap questions were great. His was the least racist response, stating every child deserved a great supportive family and District, so the answer was to talk to the FAMILIES as soon as possible to get them involved and teach them how to support their kids academically, regardless of color, based on student academic outcome. I couldn't agree more.

I would have voted for him on that answer alone, except that the big picture he had for how to manage the district, how to deal with conflict in the district, what the goal of the district is etc was at odds with what I hoped for.

Too bad, I really liked him as a person of integrity and honesty. I would definitely want to work with him as an employee, and wish him every luck in his hopes to write a book

But, I am delighted with the three who got in!!

Congratulations Barbara, Melissa and Camille!

Posted by To James, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:35 am

You are so right about people who care informing others who are too busy, or whatever, about the candidates.

Though I was surprised to see Ezran's response about "well, they had more campaign workers", perhaps it is simply a language thing, and he didn't mean it like the poor sport it sounds like, so let's give him a break. Things in print often don't come across as intended.

That is the point, isn't it? At some point, it really matters how many people are actively spreading the word for you, if you don't have a built in "recognition" factor like incumbent or teacher by your name.

So, that is why we have grassroots workers. Going it alone and money isn't everything.

I wish it were true that campaigns were less about campaign management and more about "read my assessment of the issues and my solutions, ask me a few clarifying questions, then decide"..but they aren't. Unfortunately, most people just don't take the time to stay informed in that way and the rest of us have to work hard for who/what we believe in.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:50 am

It would be interesting to see the number of ballots counted, and compare that to the number of votes cast. I wonder if there was bullet voting to any significant extent.

Barbara is a great candidate, and I think she also was acceptable by enough people to be everyone's "third vote". For those who didn't like some of the candidates, Barbara was the candidate you couldn't hate.

Congrats to Barbara, Melissa, and Camille!

Posted by No There Are Still Two, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:57 am

Both Barbara and Camille are technically from S PA. Barbara's children went to Gunn. Camille lives south of Oregan Expressway but in the area that feeds to Paly.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:08 am

Can't say I'm surprised--Klausner had the most across-the-board support. Baten Caswell seemed to have solid support in the north and Townsend's squeaking in with an incumbent advantage. Awfully close though--enough so that if Wynn Hausser had had a little more money and a little less pneumonia, he'd have squeaked in--a few more senior citizen center visits would have done it.

As for some of the other comments, how was Liu's campaign the "least racist"--that implies that the other campaigns were all racist in some way. How?

Can't believe we have a N v. S Palo Alto troll. Sounds like we can all disown Camille if we want or claim Barbara--though isn't she west Palo Alto? College Terrace? Sigh, I can honestly say geographical locale had zero to do with my vote.

I'm sorry for Ezran--he may be in a worse mood than Liu because he spent a lot more money. It was just the wrong time for his campaign. I also think he was indirectly hurt by not having had kids in the public elementary schools--that hurts your grassroots connections--obviously something that helped both Klausner and Baten Caswell. A lot of voting decisions are word-of-mouth, the more people who know you through their kids schools, the stronger your base.

I'm glad Liu enjoyed himself--you don't see that too often in a political race. I didn't agree with him, but I liked that he was straightforward about it.

I see we got Gunn on the city council now with Yeh--he's young enough to still remember Gunn . . .

Posted by pundit, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:19 am

How many forums did Wynn Hausser actually miss because of being sick? I thought he was at almost all of them except for a week in the middle. Considering the amount of anti-Camille hate blogs near the end that brought out her supporters, and the huge number of Wynn cheerleaders posting for most of the race, I don't know if you can really conclude Wynn would have won if he'd had more money or less pneumonia. Maybe they just didn't like him enough to vote for him, thought he didn't have the right experience, or whatever, same as the others. Maybe he'll still squeak in with a win. If not, will he run again? Will Claude? Will Pingyu? They'll have another chancein a couple of years. Meanwhile, they could get involved in the schools on a high level and see what it's all about. Go to Board meetings, etc. It's very enlightening.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:27 am

I am actually surprised that the votes were not closer. I expected the Wynn, Barbara, Melissa grouping to be very close on votes and instead they were far apart. I can understand the either love/hate feeling towards Camille and also the Ezran vote perhaps being the spoiler or divider. I am not discounting Liu, but I think it is fair to say that he was an outsider all along.

No, I feel sorry for Wynn as being one of the gang of 3 who didn't get in, but I do feel that the BoE will be more broadly representative since these 3 didn't all make it. However, I feel for Dana, remaining as the sole male voice on the board. I think that for the sake of balance, another man on the board would help overall.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:50 am

Klausner was the only candidate who had support on both sides of the MI split and the one with all the media endorsements. She also had the most money. So, I think basically everybody voted for her.

I was a bit surprised that Baten Caswell did as well as she did, though I had her down for second--I just kept seeing more and more support for her around town. Her school activism created a good base of support--particularly in the north.


I don't think online or offline forum appearances were needed to increase Hausser's support. Frankly, by the time you wonder into the online or real-life forums, you're already more informed and motivated than the average Palo Alto voter. I think Hausser got a chunk of that vote--it may well be why he did better than the better-financed Claude Ezran.

I wasn't really joking about the senior centers. I don't think Hausser's name reccognition was as high as Klausner's. I don't remember getting fliers from him in my mail--that's a matter of money. As for health, well, both Townsend and Klausner were campaigning at the Farmer's market this weekend--that kind of getting right out there and talking to people takes a lot of energy, but it does pull in less-motivated voters. Given how small the margin was, this is a case where that sort of meet-and-greet might have tipped the race in Hausser's favor. (I hear Baten Caswell also got out there, though not where I was.)

Yiaweh Yeh had people going door-to-door to raise his profile--I mean his mother came to our house with both materials for him and Townsend (and I forget the third). You remember that--I mean, his *mom*--I was sort of charmed by it. But that's a lot of legwork, coordination and money.

Posted by terry, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:54 am

Congratulations to Camillie! A win for Camillie is a win for Mandarin-immersion too!

Ha ha. Funny how the Weekly didn't endorse her nor Mandarin, yet she managed to pull ahead. Just shows how out of touch the Weekly is with the community.

Posted by jerry, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 10:18 am

Or maybe it shows how out of touch the community is with what's *really* going on in the board. Camille got the uninformed 'granny vote'.
Newspapers usually endorse based on things other than popular vote predictions.

Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 10:24 am

Wynn Hausser was campaigning at the Barron Park pancake breakfast on Saturday. I wouldn't say he didn't "get out there." Maybe he just didn't think to go to the Farmer's Market. In any event, we'll see what the final vote is when all extraneous votes are counted.

Posted by Love the weekly, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:04 am

Love the Weekly's choice of words when someone they supported wins:

"Klausner storms ahead in school board race" and
"Barbara Klausner has emerged as a clear victor ..."

There were three seats open and they were 3 winners--margin of victory does not mean a thing--unless Barbara will get a bigger chair to sit on.

Posted by Is she having fun yet?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Yes, a whole 200 people favored Camille (actually I turned in my absentee ballot by hand last night, so they're not in the tally yet - so make that 198 people) and that's a BIG mandate for Townsend and MI (not). [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
And for SoLong SPA: - this will make it all the more fun and interesting to watch the North PA board and Camille specifically, to forsake North Palo Altans by handing Garland over to MI. So long new neighborhood school for North Palo Alto. Have fun with that too. I know I will.

Posted by clarification, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:06 am

I am going to ignore the bad manners that just popped up on this forum, and apologize for something that I didn't say clearly. I didn't mean to imply anyone else was racist, not at all. I meant it in the pure sense of the term, that Liu was the only one who was unconcerned about COLOR related to achievement gap, and was concerned only about trying to get to all kids who are under-achieving regardless of color, by getting to their parents as soon as it is noticed that there may be a struggle. I found that to be a breath of fresh air, right up there with the latest book by Juan Williams, the speeches by Bill Cosby, and some of the research which points out the differences in family cultures which, regardless of economic status, affect academic outcome of children. ( early reading to kids, more praise for athletic achievements than academic at home, structured homework time with high expectations etc)

NOBODY ELSE WAS RACIST AT ALL. I can see how it reads that way. It is just that the rest of them focus on color in the achievement gap.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:22 am

In both races, Board and City Council won people endorsed by Daily. It is still more popular newspaper than Weekly, even though there is nothing left from "old" Daily.
Candidates endorsed by both papers won first two places, with additional voices for Barbara from another side of MI, from people who appreciate her work for district (reading, math, gifted - she worked on most areas that need improvements in PAUSD). For Townsend worked incumbency, Daily endorsement, concentrating campaign on "experience" and avoiding talking about MI, her ability to be "charming", especially when she needs your voice.
Ezran was running basically on two points-measure A and pro-MI; it is obviously not enough to win. People who are "inside" of district's problems, most of them participated in that campaign and don't expect to be elected for their help. What about those around 30% of Palo Altans who pay this tax against their will?
Liu managed to have some voices from people who don't like MI...just by being nice and sincere.
Congratulation to the winners, especially two of them who had my voice:)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:26 am

Um...I am no Camille supporter ( in her position on School Board, not on a personal level..I have no feelings about her as a person)..but aren't you a little over the top there, Is She Having Fun?? I mean, really, it just may be that this election has opened her eyes and she will finally learn to think better, vote better etc.

It is clear that there was no "mandate" for the old way, so an intellligent person like her will sit up and take notice.

But, your kind of vitriol and sarcasm will not be helpful to getting us all back on track for paying attention to what needs to happen next. There are 4 more years of Ms. Townsend on the Board. So, as much as I understand your frustration that incumbency got her re-elected, I think that your style will simply backfire against your desires, turning people to support her in order to protect her from unwarranted emotion.

Say what you will about the results of her work in the last couple years, she is still a human being who got re-elected, and who is not an evil person. This is still a democracy where we live under rule of law and accept the results of an election. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
So, for the sake of our District, and the good of our future decision making process in the School Board meetings, please accept the results and give us all a clean slate.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Fat lady hasn't sung, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:51 am

As of last night, Townsend had 262 votes more than Hausser, not including absentee ballots that were dropped off at polling places during the day. Votes are still being counted, and the next update will be available after 5 p.m. today at Web Link

Congratulations and gloating are premature until all the absentee ballots are counted, which could take several days. It's not over 'til it's over.

Posted by Hopeful, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 11:57 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Since I ventured out here before, I thought I would provide an update similar to one I just sent my supporters.

With the early absentees and precinct votes counted, I am 262 votes behind (5,217-4,955). However, according to the Registrar of Voters, there was an unusually high number of absentee ballots dropped at precincts. So there are more than 10,000 votes yet to be counted county-wide. Unfortunately, they don't separate out Palo Alto, so we don't know how many remain specifically for our race. But I'm still hopeful and plan on letting the votes be counted.

Please note that I have no intention of extending the campaign indefinitely if there is no movement as the additional tallies come in. So I'll see where we stand Friday and go from there.

Regarding my illness, I missed two forums and a number of coffees. I was in bed for a week straight with the flu, which turned into pneumonia. So while I did manage to make most of the forums and coffees, I was crawling out of bed for the majority of them.

What I didn't get to do was go out into the community the way I intended or would have liked. I didn't get out to every school, wasn't able to walk a single precinct or knock on a single door and was only at the farmers markets this last weekend. I wish I had been able to meet more people from throughout the community, but I did the best I could under the circumstances.

None of this is to make excuses, just a response to those who suggest that maybe I wasn't really that sick. All things considered, I'm proud of the race we ran and intend on continuing my involvement in the schools and community.

Thanks for listening, and especially for voting.

Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Best to you, Wynn; here's hoping the absentee ballots change the current outcome. If not, you fought a good fight, and have everything to proud of.

Please continue your involvement, and do consider another run.

Posted by Long-time Board Watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 12:30 pm

If you look at the board members' voting records, you'll find that their votes were unanimous more often than not. That the board flipflopped on MI was not attributable to Camille or Gail, both of whom voted consistently time after time, but in opposition to each other. MI was a controversial subject and so the board's division and flipflopping were to be expected.

Posted by RWE, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 7, 2007 at 1:36 pm

We have a new majority on the board, with two rather recent (2 year) incumbents that saw what happens when leadership is found wanting. They (Mitchell and Tom), along with Caswell and Klausner, will not let such a gap in leadership happen again. For all intents and purposed, Townsned will remain a voting member of the board, but the Kroynman/Townsend *demeanor* that dominated the BOE during the MFC reign is now gone for good. That's a step forward.

Dana Tom has two years to bring himself back from the brink. After watching the animus suffered by Townsend in thsi election, he will not be aligning with her positions, willy-nilly (this is not to say thyat Townsend takes all bad positions, but that the *way* she took them was the problem).

Barb Mitchell is an astute politician, and growing into a leadership role. She's advised to stay on the course that put her in office (an independent, and informed voice, favering no one constituency).

I'm optimistic about the future.

Posted by Sad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 2:04 pm

> Barb Mitchell is an astute politician

It's a shame we have politicians on our school board and not people who are interested in education.

Posted by terry, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 2:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 7, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Well, even if you don't think the Board members care about education, which I don't actually think is the case, Melissa and Barb do.

Posted by RWE, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 2:36 pm

"Sad", in case you haven't plugged into the dynamics of the polis yet, all candidates for elected office are politicians, by definition.

Posted by another POV, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm

For a while, the elementary schools were divided into "clusters", N, S and W. I think that Nixon, Escondido, Barron and Briones were in the W cluster, PV, Hoover, Ohlone, Fairmeadow and El Carmelo were in the South cluster and Addison, Duveneck and Hays were in the North cluster. Caveat: I *think* this was the case.

Somehow, all the schools south of Oregon got lumped into the category South PA schools, so now there's no real geographical identification. Since Barbara and Camille's kids went to Nixon, they are considered West cluster candidates. Melissa, Dana and Barba are all North cluster.

So, yes, there are no South cluster candidates but Wynn wouldn't have been able to even make a dent in that scenario. I'm still hopeful for an absentee count that favors him, though. It would be nice if the dynamics of being a South Palo Alto resident has a voice at this table.

Posted by Sad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 3:11 pm

> all candidates for elected office are politicians

Perhaps .. but people interested in education should be wary of candidates described as "astute politicians".

Many people see a school board election as a stepping stone of greater political office. Certainly we've seen a little of that here in Palo Alto with people like Barton and Simitian.

Certainly brining at least a BS/BA to the table is more indicative of interest in education than not even achieving that level of personal education.

Posted by C, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Web Link
updated results

Posted by ??, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:21 pm

It appears to be getting closer.

Is this it or are there still more to count?

Posted by Still Hopeful, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:33 pm

The Camille-Wynn margin has decreased from 262 to 199, but that's after at least 1,043 absentee ballots have been counted today (that's the additional number of votes that Wynn received). Although there were 10,000 absentee ballots county-wide dropped at precincts yesterday, we still don't know whether this 1,043 represents most of the Palo Alto ballots. This means that we'll just have to keep checking for the next few days...

Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:44 pm

I'm surprised that three times as many people voted by absentee than by the polls.

Posted by A parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:59 pm

I wonder how much of a draft Townsend got from association with Yeh's campaign. His parents did indeed campaign and post signs for Townsend and Ezran because a niece (cousin of Yeh) is an MIer and asked them to. I wonder how much influence this will have on his opinions in office?

I'm still curious to see the final results. If Townsend wins, I'm sure the truly miniscule margin by which she wins (shameful for an incumbent, it would send a message to anyone else) will not deter MIers from crowing about how she was re-elected as if it were a landslide.

Posted by Yet another voice, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 5:16 pm

It's amusing to see the Camille supporters try to make it sound like she had a great victory. But let's face it, when you're an incumbent, especially at the local level, and you barely survive (especially against a fairly unknown newcomer), you are not a big winner.

I hope that she does learn something from this election, but clearly some of her supporters have not.

Posted by midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Yeah, I am wondering if Ms. Townsend gets the message, too.
She had my vote last time - definitely NOT yesterday. Even though I still am hoping Hausser will end up victorious, things are looking better already. Those of us who want foreign language for ALL Palo Alto students are going to remain active, & continue to work to see implemented what should have happened in the first place. This election is just the beginning!

Posted by A parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Hmmm... I wonder if Espinosa might persuade someone in the Packard Foundation to make a grant to our schools for a new language academy - something that would accomodate more students AND an after-school and satellite program to serve all kids in the district. Such an event, I think, would end the squabbling... Hint, hint!

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:03 pm

It's worth noting that Townsend received about 3,000 fewer votes than she did as a challenger in 2003. She was in third place then--though behind the two incumbents.

It's hard to read her re-election as resounding support for MI--not when two non-office holders sailed past her.

The geographic dynamics, to which I don't pay much attention, are interesting in light of Garland. I doubt it will be a slam-dunk with Baten Caswell. Klausner, I'd think, must be aware of some of the tensions at Escondido.

Skelly also changes things--MI's not his project the way it became Callan's.

I'm beginning to think there will be a move toward making languages more available at all the schools and basically outmoding the immersion programs as they are now. I mean, the immersion model will never be the standard model for second-language education if it becomes the norm the way it is in Europe.

Or, ironically, in China where Mandarin Standard is taught as a second language in what sounds like a FLES format.

Posted by Parent - Not buying it, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:11 pm

If every 1000 absentee ballots represents 62 vote margin for Wynn, maybe he'll come in with about 620 votes for the entire 10,000 outstanding. Wouldn't that be cool.

Now THAT would be a message. I'll go to bed tonite with a smile on face imagining that outcome.

Posted by L., a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:26 pm

I'm on your side, so I hate to spoil your sweet dreams. The 10,000 uncounted votes are for all of Santa Clara County. We don't know how many of those are for Palo Alto.

All we can do is wait and hope. The next update won't be until Friday at 5 p.m.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:49 pm


You know, I, too, sort of shrugged my shoulders with the "all of Santa Clara" then I looked again at that Web link. Most of Santa Clara County didn't seem to have an election--there were 201 precincts voting, nearly a quarter of which were in the PAUSD (47 to be exact). Since it also looks like there were more contested elections here, a good chunk of that 10,000 may, in fact, be Palo Alto votes--what if it's half? And Hausser trends the same way he did for the first 1000? He squeaks past Townsend.

I think this one's going down to the wire, after all.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:22 am

If you do the calculations of the votes cast on Election day, the votes counted on Wednesday, and the total votes remaining, it is highly unlikely that the results will change.

With the votes remaining after the count on Wednesday, Hausser would have to outpace Townsend by more than 15% of the votes cast. There is absolutely no evidence that the remaining votes are that unbalanced. The final gap will be around 160 votes, slightly more than 1% of total votes cast, which for PAUSD will be about 14,800.

Posted by When will this end?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 8, 2007 at 9:18 am

Probably the worst result. It would have been better for Camille to either have stormed in or to have lost. Now we have both sides still claiming victory and a district still bothered by these futile feuds.

Posted by Paren t, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 9:33 am

Contrary to the way some people are reading this, I feel that regardless of whether Townsend stays ahead or Wynn scrapes past, neither of these candidates can claim a resounding victory.

Townsend must know that she has lost much goodwill from the community at large and must act accordingly for the term. Wynn, on the other hand, although he worked had and almost got there, knows that he did fail at the last hurdle and even if he does make it, it is only there by a squeak.

This must be a lesson to all the future candidates. If you are serious about standing in the future, now is the time to get involved, not 6 months before an election. Go to Board Meetings, volunteer at schools, particularly the elementary schools, get to know people, useful people, and above all, never assume anything.

Posted by Vote-By-Mail, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:13 am

> I'm surprised that three times as many people voted
> by absentee than by the polls.

The Registrar has been pushing permanent absentee voting as an alternative to precinct voting lately. Getting and training poll workers is always a problem, which could be solved by moving everyone to Absentee Ballots.

At a somewhat deeper level, getting people to vote in higher numbers than they do (typically 30-35% is all we see in Palo Alto elections) can be achieved if people can vote via mail, just like they pay their bills. Voting by Internet might increase participation, but it would add some authentication difficulties.

The low turnouts (ie participation) are embarrassing.

Posted by Threads, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:38 am

During the campaign for Measure A the supporters encouraged voters to get permanent absentee status. I believe it was to ensure that supporters of the measure actually voted. It was at that time that I started voting absentee, and in fact it is very convenient to fill out the ballot at home, perhaps after a family discussion and with suitable information at hand.

So it may be that voters having a particular interest in school affairs are likely to have absentee status. It would be interesting to know what the demographics are for the different voting methods, and whether there is a higher participation for absentee ballots.

Posted by Threads, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:42 am

Duh. I should have looked at the election results! 26% participation for absentee voters, and 8.7% participation for voting booth voters.

The numbers are shameful.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:47 am

What would also be interesting to find out is what percentage of absentee votes were mailed in ahead of time and what were handed in at polling places on election day. These latter votes are the ones still being counted and if, as I suspect, parents did their voting at home and took them into school (as many of the voting places were elementary schools) while they were there, it would show in the last votes as to who is voting for who.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Paly Parent,

Hausser gained 62 votes on the first 1,000 drop-in ballots counted, so, yes, there's some indication that the late votes could trend his way. I don't know that it will happen--we're talking small numbers, but it's within the realm of possibility--right now the split's at 177. I could see the final difference being less than 100 votes.

It depends a lot on the demographics of who the drop-off voters were. I wonder if Parent's right? You need people who care enough to vote in the election, but are too distracted to mail the ballots in ahead of time. So, yeah, parents seem like a good bet to me. <g>

Posted by Fat lady..., a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 3:11 pm

I think we have to assume that since Klausner is consistently getting about 30% of the votes, that her numbers represent slightly less than the number of ballots cast since everyone got three votes.

So based on that, the initial number of drop in ballots counted would be closer to 2000, not 1000, which would mean that Hausser is currently getting just over 3 votes more than Townsend for every 100 ballots cast. So there would have to be about 5900 ballots left to count (since this morning's update) for Hausser to make up the 177 vote difference.

I wish I could say that I believed that the county still has that many ballots to count, but I really don't think so. I won't give up hope until it's all said and done, but I think it's kind of a long shot at this point.

What is astonishing to me is that almost everyone who voted used one of their votes for Klausner. That gives her an enormous amount of legitimacy on the board. It also gives me hope that she will serve as a unifying force for the community.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 4:59 pm

What are the conditions required for a runoff election? Does it have to be an exact tie?

Posted by Fat lady, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 6:10 pm

I don't know the rules for runoff elections, but in California there is an automatic manual recount of 1% of the precincts in the county, which voters have the right to observe (See Web Link) before the election results are certified.

Any voter in California can also request a manual recount, but has to pay for the expense.

I would say that if the final difference in number of votes between Townsend and Hausser turns out to be less than 1% of ballots cast, then it makes sense to look into the expense of a recount. If enough people split the cost, it might be reasonable, especially if there is any question about the final result, and given the importance of this election to our district.

Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:03 pm

Except that Wynn Hausser has already graciously stated that he would not "extend the campaign indefinitely" so maybe he will feel it is better for the community to move on without a recount. Of course, when he said he would see where we are on Friday and go from there, he left open the possiblity of asking for a recount if the numbers were closer than they were on Wednesday. I wonder how many people care so passionately about Hausser vs. Townsend that they would put their own money up for a recount. I wonder how much a recount costs and, if it is a substantial amount of money, whether Wynn will feel it is important enough for the community to incur that cost.

Posted by Knock down, drag out, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Well, the thing is, its not really Wynn's decision to make. He doesn't have to pay for it if he doesn't want to (and I probably wouldn't if I were him), but maybe other's would, and I guess if I were him, I'd ask the people how important THEY thought it was. And its not his place to endorse or otherwise. Its a democracy and a fair and accurate election result is the business of the people.

I think what's more interesting would be a run off - wouldn't that be a fabulous way to get to the bottom of how much support for Townsend their actually is. This election had alot of splitting with the bottom several candidates pullin in quite a few votes. I'd like to just see Townsend and Hauser go in the ring.

Posted by A parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2007 at 9:50 pm

If Townsend and Hauser had a runoff, Hausser would probably win handily. Based on my own considerations and people I talked with, I think Ezran was kind of a "spoiler" (for the ABC - anyone but camille - crowd).

That said, I don't think there's any provision for a runoff. I'd pitch in some if there could be, but I wouldn't for a recount (unless the race was, oh, say within 50 votes).

Posted by its over folks, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:14 pm

the vote is counted, the election is over. The margin is greater than 1percent. The county votes are tallied.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Where's the final count? The links I looked at just had the numbers from this early afternoon--it seems like there should be another 1,000 to 2,000 votes to count.

Posted by Fat lady, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:17 pm

It's not over. It's a longshot that Wynn could still win, but the final counts have not yet been posted.

Also, to the people who are saying that the margin is over 1% of votes cast, that's not really accurate. Because each voter could mark up to three choices for School Board, the actual number of votes counted so far is 38,838. In terms of votes cast, the difference between Townsend and Hausser is less than half a percent.

After I posted my comments above about considering a recount if the margin was less than 1% of ballots cast, I realized that there is really no way to know how many ballots were cast for School Board members, because not everyone who votes fills in the entire ballot. If you take the total number of votes for School Board and divide by three, you get 12,946, but the number of City Council votes divided by four (the number of seats available) is 11,587, and the total for Measure N is 13,723.

So some people probably voted for just one or two Board candidates, or even for both Townsend and Hausser on the same ballot (don't laugh, I saw both of their signs in one yard).

So the question I have is, what is the threshold below which voters should consider asking for a manual recount? (It would have to come from the voters; candidates themselves cannot ask for recounts in CA.)

Posted by Analyst, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:46 pm

It is over - and it becomes tiresome when people refuse to accept the results of elections they don't agree with. Are you alleging any funny business?

Take the largest of the two measures - which is Measure N - and multiply by 47/41 to correct for the Stanford and Los Alto Hills precincts - and you get about 15,800 votes. Where I come from, 177/15800 is more than 1%. Also, the additional votes counted from the county match almost exactly what you would expect if the 10,000 were distributed proportionately with the votes cast on election day. Thus, the votes have been totaled. You are welcome to hold out whatever hopes you want, but it is beginning to sound like sour grapes.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:50 pm

Thanks Fat Lady, I thought "its over folks" wasn't up on his/her facts--kind of went with the carelessness in the writing.

I agree a switch in a position is a longshot, but I really could see it going under 100 votes. At which point, I think a recount's legit. I wouldn't really expect much difference in the results though--I don't think voter fraud is a real issue. The votes for Townsend are real votes.

As for numbers--I've been watching the two measures for voter totals--I figure everyone who voted probably voted on them because they were pretty easy decisions--particularly the hotel tax. If you were going to bother voting, you probably checked a box on a measure.

With the school board, I added up all the votes and divided by three. It came out pretty close to the measure totals, so I think most people did vote for three candidates, though I'm sure a few did not. For the last poll numbers I got 12946 voters, most of whom, then, did, indeed, vote for Klausner. So in between M and N's totals. So that may be the bullet voting or one or two votes or no votes difference we're seeing. Though I think, no matter how you slice it, most people who voted, voted for Klausner as in 80 to 90 percent, depending on how you estimate.

That's a consensus.

Baten Caswell's also interesting in that the pro-MI crowd definitely saw her as opposition--to the point of that e-mail leak that went on in the Forum. I think it's worth comparing her campaign to Ezran's--both were well-financed non-incumbents. Both were appealing, but were on opposite sides of the MI fence and the magnet/neighborhood school debate. There's a roughly 2:1 split on the issue if the election reflects this--and that feels about right to me.

In which case, the debate over Garland's going to be a mess.

Posted by Analyst, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:53 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:02 am


If the drop-off votes correlated with the votes already counted then the first thousand votes counted shouldn't have reduced the difference between Townsend and Hausser by a third. On election night there was a 300-vote difference, it is now slightly more than half of that. The difference would be getting larger, not smaller, if the drop-off votes followed the trend of the previously counted balance.

Yes, the switch in results is a long shot, but if you look at the school board results, you don't get 15,800 votes--yet. It sounds like there are a couple of thousand votes out there--and, yeah, that's worth waiting for.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:25 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:26 am

Ezran self financed a large part of his campaign, where as Baten Caswell got alot of contributions from people using the PTA "crowd".
If you can't raise money from contributors, that's an indication of the support you have - so I wouldn't try to use Ezran as a proxy of the MI issue.

Although you are a one issue voter, Camille does add some experience to the a board that is light on experience. She did go through the years where there were budgetary issues, and going forward, that's going to be useful.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:39 am

Common Sense,

I am not, in fact, a one-issue voter--remember, no one who ran said they wanted to put MI up to a second vote, nor did any, except Townsend, say where they thought MI should go in three years.

I actually look much more at how a candidate approaches problems and issues. Thus, while I don't agree with Barb Mitchell on MI, I wouldn't rule out voting for her. Dana Tom, on the other hand, is someone for whom I feel some empathy, but probably wouldn't vote for--the charter threat was visible from several miles away. Couldn't believe Tom couldn't see it coming down the pike. That's poor judgment.

Regarding Townsend, ideally, yes, you'd want someone with the experience on the board, but if someone's doing a poor job, then how valuable is that experience, really? Particularly since she's shown little sign of having learned from those mistakes--and I'm not talking about MI here--that's simply something she wanted. I'm talking about the Callan fiasco and the way the board's agenda was allowed to drift on and on regarding MI while the urgent issue of overcrowding got short shrift. She was board president, she has some agenda-setting privileges.

Were you at those board meetings--endless.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:52 am

Common Sense,

Re: Ezran, I've said above that Baten Caswell's success owed something to her network and that Ezran was probably hurt by not having had his kids in the public elementaries, when a lot of people form networks.

However, Ezran did have the money to get his name out there and campaign and he was pro-MI, whereas Baten Caswell was seen as an opponent. I think, in fact, her perceived strong opposition to MI probably kept her votes down compared to Klausner. She was, in many ways, a strong candidate.

In other words, if you were pro-MI and pro-Townsend, there was a good chance that your second and third choices were Klausner and Ezran, not Baten Caswell and Hausser.

That Ezran wasn't drumming up financial support from the community could say something about the popularity of his platform as well as his lack of a social network? Though didn't he get more votes last time he ran? And he ended up in a higher position? This has got to hurt.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 8:59 am

In the California Ed code it says that either a run off election (or a 'lot', which I assume means picking names out of a hat), occurs in the case of a tie. Which method is used is defined by each local school district board (I assume in our bylaws somewhere). But anyway, it doesn't seem very likely at all that it would be a perfect tie, so its note really worth hoping for. Too bad.

Analyst, there's a big 'if' in your analysis. IF the absentees hand delivered match the distribution of votes case on election day. I think there good reason to suspect that that is not true, that Palo Alto voters would have been more motivated than most other ares to get their late absentee's hand delivered. Enough of a reason anyway that I'll just pass on your presumtive close, and wait for the results. Thanks anyway.

Posted by Fat lady, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2007 at 11:29 am

"Analyst" has correctly pointed out that there are six more precincts in the PAUSD voting area than in the Palo Alto voting area. Those six, in Los Altos Hills, Stanford, and unincorporated Portola Valley, typically have low turnout when the PAUSD school board is the only item on the ballot. Still, those neighborhoods have children in our schools, displayed lawn signs and were papered with fliers just like PA neighborhoods, and many of those folks do vote.

I still maintain that it's impossible to tell how many ballots were cast for school board members, so unless the county kept track of that when counting and is willing to pass on that information, the only meaningful measure is the total number of votes received by each candidate. By that standard, Hausser lags Townsend by .46%.

And no, I'm not suggesting any funny business or voter fraud. I'm suggesting that there is a margin of error in the counting process. A number of states, but not CA, have a threshold below which a manual recount is automatically triggered, usually below 1%. If the final tally shows a difference that is below 100 votes, I will follow up with the county about recount costs and procedures. That's my threshold; other voters may have a different one.

This isn't sour grapes, it's democracy.

Posted by boardwatcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm

As of 11:43 the Registrar is showing the count as Camille 6731, Wynn 6549, a difference of 182 votes.

Posted by Analyst, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:25 pm

The vote counting looks like it should be finished.

The extra 274 votes that were tallied today, and their marginal distribution, are exactly what would be expected if they reflect PAUSD's share of the 800 provisional votes that were cast county wide. They look very much like the election day distribution of votes -as they should as they are due to normal voters showing up at a slightly changed precinct boundary.

Thus, in all likelihood, all of the late absentee votes and provisional votes have been counted and are reflected in the tallies. By my estimation, there were just a shade over 16,000 voter cast votes in the PAUSD district. Also by my estimation, the average number of school board votes per ballot cast was 2.47. Total voter count has some uncertainty to it, due to the correction for the Stanford and LHH precincts.

Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Here is an excerpt from an email I just sent my supporters:

I have been awaiting the full counting of absentee ballots before declaring the election over. The difference got as close as 177, but as of now stands at 182, with the new vote count slowing to a trickle. It is clear to me that while we came very close, the certified tally will leave me short. I am heartened that we came so close given that I was not able to actively campaign for 3-4 weeks due to the flu and pneumonia. I'm confident that we would have prevailed if I'd been able to meet more of the community during those crucial weeks. But, of course we'll never know.

To everyone who displayed a sign, contributed their money, time and energy, words cannot express my appreciation for your support. It has been a pleasure and privilege running for school board. I'm not going anywhere, and look forward continuing my involvement in the schools and community. So see you out there!

Posted by Fat lady, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I just called the county registrar's office, and the person I spoke to told me that there will be another update this afternoon, which should be the final tally.

Analyst, you sound very authoratative, but I still don't see how you can extrapolate the number of ballots from the number of votes. Measure M has a total of 15,358 votes, and Measure N, 13,962. So we know there were at least as many ballots cast as the largest number of the two. I think you used the lower number of the two measures to get your 16,000 ballots. If you use the higher number, you get 17,600 ballots.

But I still think that your analysis is flawed because it assumes that people in the six additional PAUSD precincts voted in the same proportions as voters in Palo Alto, which is not typically true due to the demographics of those areas. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the only meaningful way to look at the difference between Townsend and Hausser is as a percentage of the total votes cast for school board, and that looks like it will be in the one half percent or less range.

If, when the final counts are posted, there are more than 100 votes between Townsend and Hausser, I will accept the results, wish Townsend all the best, and hope and pray for the sake of our district that what she said in her online interview with the Weekly is really true: that she's learned a lot in the past four years. And then I will sing.

But I'm just one voter. There may be others out there who feel differently...

Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Wynn Hausser has now officially conceded. See the new post on this.

Posted by Fat lady, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2007 at 4:21 pm

To all the school board candidates: Thank you for the considerable amount of time and energy you put into your campaigns. The process was particularly grueling this election season due to the sheer number of public forums and coffees, which I'm sure had an impact on your families, volunteer work and jobs.

To Barbara, Melissa and Camille: Congratulations and best wishes on your election (or re-election in Camille's case) to the PAUSD Board of Education. You have chosen to serve our community in a way that at times can be thankless, so thank you for your commitment to excellent education in our district.

To Wynn, Claude, and Pingyu: I got to know the three of you in different ways during the campaign, and you each brought something unique and special to the process. It has been a pleasure, and I hope our paths cross again.

Tra laaaaaaaaa!

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Yes, hear hear

A well fought fight, and a campaign marathon. I think you all did more than expected for this and can only be commended. I think I found out so much more about you than the city council candidates.

Thanks to all for your hard work.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Well sung, Fat Lady. I feel like we've got two good fresh new faces on the board, which I think will strengthen the board. Unlike the last board, I think the new board will be more savvy. Skelly, too, looks like an improvement.