Palo Alto Weekly to host school-board candidates debate on Sept. 20

Five are vying this fall for three seats on Board of Education

The five candidates competing for three seats on the Palo Alto Board of Education will participate in the first debate of the election season, sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly, next Tuesday evening, Sept. 20.

The debate, which will also be live-streamed on, will be moderated by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. Palo Alto Weekly Editor Jocelyn Dong and education writer Elena Kadvany will also ask the candidates questions, as well as the editors of Palo Alto High School’s student newspaper The Campanile and Gunn High School's The Oracle.

The Weekly will also take questions live from the audience and online viewers.

Incumbents Heidi Emberling and Melissa Baten Caswell are running for their second and third terms, respectively, against social entrepreneur Jay Cabrera, investment manager Todd Collins and former educator Jennifer DiBrienza.

Camille Townsend, who has served more than a decade on the board, is not running for re-election.

The debate will be held at Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. Seating is limited to about 80 people and advanced registration is strongly advised, as those who register in advance will receive priority for seating. Because this is a live broadcast, attendees are asked to arrive prior to 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

To register, go to

In the coming weeks, there are two other scheduled school-board candidate debates. The League of Women Voters will host one on Thursday, Sept. 22, 7-9 p.m., at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave.

Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS), the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC) and the Palo Alto Council of PTAs are also sponsoring a forum focused on issues that affect minority and low-income students and families and students with special needs.

The forum will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Jordan Middle School’s gym, 750 N. California Ave. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Child care and Spanish translation will be provided.


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