One-term Palo Alto Board of Education incumbent Heidi Emberling has conceded victory in the Nov. 8 election to fellow trustee Melissa Baten Caswell after close to a week of vying for the third open seat.
She sent a message to her supporters on Monday morning thanking them for "all the house parties, contributions, lawn signs and great conversations I've had with you over the past few months about issues that matter to our families, teachers, and students.
"Although I didn't get enough votes to win this time, I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your elected school board representative for the past four years," she wrote.
Referencing the presidential election, Emberling said she has been telling her children "not to lose hope in the democratic process, even in the face of a heartbreaking loss."
Baten Caswell said she was "honored to serve another term"
and thanked the numerous people who supported her campaign.
"I wouldn't have done this if I didn’t feel that I was able to add value and I’m honored that the community gives me that vote of confidence," she said.
Emberling had a slight lead on Nov. 8 when early, unofficial election results were first released, but Baten Caswell pulled ahead in the ensuing days. She appeared to secure her seat by Thursday but votes continued to be counted. By Monday morning, with 81 percent of ballots counted in Santa Clara County, her lead grew to 197 votes, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Baten Caswell will join newcomers Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza, who won the other two seats on the board. DiBrienza, who received the most votes, still holds a commanding lead with 28.75 percent of the votes, or 17,967.
Collins has trailed DiBrienza since last Tuesday. He has now pulled in about 21 percent of the vote, or 13,080 votes.
Baten Caswell, only the second school board member in the past 40 years to seek a third term, emphasized her institutional knowledge throughout her campaign. (Fellow board member Camille Townsend, who decided not to run for re-election, is currently ending her third term.)
A longtime schools volunteer and former business manager, Baten Caswell is now the CEO of a fledgling software company.
"Palo Alto is fortunate to have passionate, intelligent, dedicated people serving on the Board of Education," Emberling wrote in her message. "I am honored to have served alongside them, and I welcome and congratulate our newcomers. Our schools benefit when parents are involved in the education of their children, and we are stronger as a district when we all work together towards our common goals."
The three new board members are set to be sworn in at the school board's last meeting of the year on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to capture ongoing coverage of the school-board election. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.