Pulido, Fitch, Nunez win in Ravenswood school board race | News | Palo Alto Online |


Pulido, Fitch, Nunez win in Ravenswood school board race

Incumbents, challengers ran on contrasting narratives about East Palo Alto district

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The results in this election have shifted as more ballots have been counted. View the latest on this race here.

With all precincts reporting by Wednesday morning, incumbent Ana Maria Pulido and newcomers Stephanie Fitch and Laura Nunez had won three open seats on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Education.

Pulido, the current school board president, secured re-election with 16.1 percent of the vote, or 830 votes. Now a spokesperson for the Sequoia Union High School District, Pulido was first elected to the Ravenswood board in 2010 and has pointed to changes and initiatives over the last four years, including a new standalone middle school and targeted investment in STEAM education, among others, as evidence of a district on the rise.

The two challengers in second and third place -- Fitch, a nonprofit curriculum manager for Summit Public Schools in Redwood City, and Nunez, who teaches at public charter school East Palo Alto Academy, were separated by only 16 votes as of midnight. By Wednesday morning, Fitch pulled ahead with 740 votes to Nunez's 714.

San Mateo County does not have automatic recounts. Elections code states that within five days following the certification of the election, any registered voter can file a written request for recount in any race.

During the campaign, Fitch promised if elected to focus on building "two-way communication" between the school board and community, improving teacher retention and encouraging data-driven, student-focused decision making.

Nunez emphasized similar issues in her campaign, and promised to pursue "immediate solutions that result in increased budget and resources that will help diminish the achievement gap."

Nunez ran on a slate with Tamara Sobomehin, who works at youth technology nonprofit StreetCode Academy, called "Recharge Ravenswood." Sobomehin was not far behind her campaign partner, with 640 votes, or 11.63 percent of the vote, by Wednesday morning.

The three winning candidates did not return requests for comment.

The other two incumbents lost their bids for re-election. Charlie Knight, a former Ravenswood superintendent, received 531 votes, or 9.4 percent, by Wednesday morning. Marcelino Lopez won 8.3 percent of voters, or 467 votes.

Knight and Lopez did not respond to requests for comment.

The incumbents and newcomers ran on contrasting images of the K-8 school district. The sitting board members presented a district on an upward, positive trajectory toward much-needed reform and academic improvement, while the challengers criticized the current leadership for a lack of transparency and a disconnect with the community.

It was a crowded race with at first 10 candidates, before Maria Victoria Chavez withdrew to avoid splitting votes and to "ensure that there is a change in leadership at the school district level." Chavez still earned 8.8 percent of the votes, followed by special-education administrator Brooke Crosby, paraeducator Julian Garcia and Nicole Sbragia, a paraeducator and Ravenswood parent.

The next four years will be critical for Ravenswood as the district grapples with declining enrollment and funding and the superintendent seeks to rebuild trust with teachers and community members who opposed the renewal of her contract this spring.

Pulido, Fitch and Nunez will join trustees Marielena Gaona Mendoza and Sharifa Wilson at the dais.

Though these results are considered a semi-official final report, ballot counting continues: Vote-by-mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day that are received by county elections officials by Nov. 9 will be counted, the San Mateo County Elections Office states on its website.

Election results will be certified by Dec. 6, 2018.

Weekly journalists discuss the election results on an episode of Behind the Headlines. Watch the show on YouTube or listen to the podcast version, available through Apple or Google Play.


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11 people like this
Posted by Our Students Deserve Better
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 5:45 am

Pulido do a better job as many parents are not happy with her decisions. She won only because the district helped her get the funds to go crazy on signs. This time the incumbents will be a minority, hopefully this helps her realized that this time she really needs to listen to the community when they speak up, instead of ignoring them. I am glad the voters spoke up and want a change. Good bye Lopez and Knight who claimed that they helped the district get out of RSIP, when in fact they did nothing not even speak up at the meetings. In fact Knight was the one who put us int RSIP. Glad both of them will be gone.

5 people like this
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:31 am

The people have spoken. #Pulido2018

1 person likes this
Posted by Maria C.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:15 am

With Pulido and the new elected candidates the Ravenswood school district will continue to improve.

7 people like this
Posted by EPA parent
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:27 am

Pulido was given a second opportunity. The community is changing and our schools are way behind...it is sad. She’s at the forefront and as such is responsible...I hope she takes her role seriously, I’m sure her large family helped her win this time, but we will hold her accountable. We expect change!

6 people like this
Posted by Get Better this Second Chance
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Yes, Pulido you need to stop protecting the super. It is time for you to take this job seriously and just work with Sharifa and the super, and ignore our community, us parents and the teachers. Hope she does better this time. Pulido stop being Gloria's puppet. Now with incumbents we need to turn things oround: stop waisting money, hire back Jorge Prado, and retain teachers and classified employees who were laid off just because the super did not like them, and took the financial crisis issue to get rid of them. Bonilla has to go, so no money is wasted. Special ed services need to improve.
RSM needs to be taken care of and not abandoned. RMS parents and teachers have spoken up do not ignored them, otherwise you can still be recall if you do not take the second chance to improve and trully help our students. Hope you really get this message.

2 people like this
Posted by Employee?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Good to see some change come about especially to have Dr. Charlie Knight put out to pasture, as she represented the Ravenswood of the past, for those who remember the district in the 80s/90s. The new members should be on GHG from day 1 and hold her accountable for every little thing as she will call for unity & new beginning- but deserves no grace period.

Like this comment
Posted by Eveline Heston
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 5, 2019 at 7:21 am

This is amazing!

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