Gina Dalma withdraws from Palo Alto school board race

Heidi Emberling, Todd Collins now the only two Board of Education candidates as of yet

Less than a month after announcing her candidacy for the Palo Alto Board of Education, parent Gina Dalma is ending her campaign, citing a family situation in an email to supporters on Monday.

"My present personal family situation and priorities as well as work responsibilities make it very hard for me to campaign strongly and if elected, serve effectively," Dalma wrote.

Dalma — a parent in the district and advisor for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a Mountain View-based nonprofit that seeks to address social issues through research, advocacy, fundraising and other initiatives — ran unsuccessfully in the 2014 school board election. She received 14 percent of the vote, or 5,077 counted.

Dalma told the Weekly Monday that she hopes to encourage others to run this year by announcing her decision early.

"It is a really hard choice for me, but I do believe it is the right one," she wrote in an email. "I am hoping to encourage others to run by announcing this early. We need new folks on the board."

In her email to supporters, Dalma said she is "hopeful that this new election cycle brings us more new thinking about key challenges," including using data to "drive action at every level;" making sure funding investments support students and reflect the districts goals; and providing teachers, staff and administrators with the resources and training they need to fully take advantage of "massive policy shifts" underway in the education world.

"I have the huge privilege to be able to think about these challenges in our state and nation as part of my professional life," she wrote, "and I am committed to keep working with our parents, educators and leaders locally to help us all provide the environment we want for our kids — one where they can all thrive."

Dalma currently serves on the district's Minority Achievement and Talent Development (MATD) committee and said she will "use the time to keep working on ensuring we implement the MATD recommendations in a thoughtful and real way."

Current board President Heidi Emberling and parent Todd Collins remain the only other two candidates who have publicly announced bids for three open seats. They are in the running for seats currently held by Emberling and board members Melissa Baten Caswell and Camille Townsend.

Emberling, who edged out current board member Ken Dauber for a seat in the 2012 election, is finishing up her first term.

Townsend has said publicly that she does not plan to run.

Baten Caswell has not yet made a final decision but has said she is "seriously considering a run for another term." If she runs again and wins, it would be her third term on the board.

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17 people like this
Posted by Hopeful
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Would be nice to see some diversity (in all respects) on the school board. Hope we get a bigger candidate pool.

21 people like this
Posted by Run Anyone Run
a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Anyone but Melissa Caswell and Heidi Emberling.

Come on people! Stop complaining and get involved in making it better. Run!

21 people like this
Posted by A-B-E
a resident of Community Center
on May 9, 2016 at 6:01 pm

What we really need are at least three clones of Ken Dauber!

[Portion removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Wow is a registered user.

One poster wants the diversity, the other wants clones. Ah Palo Alto!

6 people like this
Posted by definition of hell
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2016 at 8:58 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by Chinese
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 9, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Why do people assume that just because someone is of a certain ethnicity, that they will fight for minorities? Or that an "old white male" will not fight for minorities? And why does anyone have to fight for minorities? There are plenty of white people who need help in school too - what about them? They are part of the majority so they don't need extra help? Any struggling student needs extra help, whether minority or majority.

Asians are a minority in the nation, yet they study hard and excel in academics even when their parents don't help them, don't pay for tutors, or even speak English. Why can't the minorities study hard too?

4 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Barron Park
on May 10, 2016 at 12:26 am

So sorry for your family circumstances. You are currently the only candidate worth electing. please encourage others you know would do well to run! All the best.

5 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2016 at 4:31 am

Serving school board is not an easy job considering our communities have highly involved parents.


3 people like this
Posted by Show me the candidates!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 5:30 am

Sheesh, from the level of [portion removed] criticism on this forum, you'd think there would immediately be a bare minimum of a half dozen candidates full of great ideas about how to run the school board who would be clamoring to run.

3 people like this
Posted by Need Upstanders
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2016 at 8:13 am

@Sea Reddy,
On the contrary, Mr. Reddy, that perspective is what highly incompetent or unnecessarily adversarial administrators have pushed for years. Having highly involved parents, with such a high level of competence, willing to give so generously, usually make things easier. (It's why Measure D happened on a shoestring, because the high level of competence and diverse talents of so many community volunteers. It was very sad, in that situation, that the City chose to fight the neighbors instead of working with them, because we might otherwise have the affordable housing now (done creatively) and saved the orchard, through the same kind of working group that saved Terman School from development while creating a low-income apartment building nearby. Some of the very same involved residents would have helped. A referendum was not anyone's first choice. Instead of working together to create something better, those in power thought they didn't have to care about the community and pushed to do things their way no matter what, that was the source of the conflict. It is a cautionary history, if people are willing to look beyond the political posturing of the then City Council.)

Had parents been willing to push in the district ten years ago, they would have almost new schools across the board now from the facilities bond. Parents are actually far far less inclined to be activist than in the above civic example, and they have far less tangible power to challenge or change things than in the City arena. (The City, by the way, could change that in the City charter.) Powerlessness in such an important sphere of life tends to beget anger and resentment, because everyone (including the schools) fails to get the benefit of checks and balances, and the collaboration and/or balance that result from a healthy power dynamic.

School board in Bill Hewlett's day is remembered fondly as a highly productive and collaborative time, because it was more productive naturally giving parents MORE not less say and power. (There was even some major scandal brought to light in which Hewlett saved the district from a dishonest administrator, embezzling but I can't remember the details - anyone?) parents were even more active then. That made things easier not harder, at least, for people whose purpose was dedicated first to serving all children.

We need a few people like Ken Dauber to balance the go along get along forces, and create a way for the community to collaborate to solve problems again.

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