The results of the race for the one competitive seat on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education have flipped twice so far as county officials continue to tabulate ballots, with the top two candidates continuing to be separated by a narrow margin.
Michelle Petersen is back in the lead -- by 86 votes -- in the race for the school district's Area 1 board seat as of the latest count Thursday, having come in at the top in the first and second early counts on Election Night, but being overtaken by fellow newcomer Jesse vanZee by the final count of the night.
"I had an incredible team and a very strong campaign," Petersen said. "We did not let up until 7 p.m. on Election Night. We knocked on thousands of doors, wrote thousands of postcards, sent thousands of texts and made thousands of phone calls."
Petersen gained a total of 109 votes as of the Thursday afternoon update, pulling her ahead of vanZee's previous 23-vote lead at the end of Election Night. However, with 110,800 unprocessed ballots countywide remaining as of 3:18 p.m. Wednesday, the outcome of the close race continues to be uncertain. It is not clear how many pending ballots are from voters within SRVUSD boundaries.
"We are hopeful as votes come in that we continue to see this upward trend," Petersen said.
The breakdown as of Wednesday's count shows Petersen at 41.48% of ballots processed so far, with vanZee at 40.71%. Alamo attorney Jerome Pandell, the third candidate in the race, was at 17.74%.
Petersen and Pandell both campaigned on platforms that emphasized teacher recruitment and retention, while vanZee sought to differentiate himself with a platform that emphasized stabilizing district spending and promoting parent involvement.
"If you look at my votes combined with Jerome Pandell who shares a similar platform, it shows great unity and support for an overwhelming majority of this district," Petersen said.
vanZee had not returned a request for comment as of Thursday evening.
Updated ballot counts are expected from the county next Friday (Nov. 18) before 5 p.m., and before 5 p.m. Fridays thereafter until results are certified.