News

vanZee pulls ahead to healthy lead in latest election count for SRVUSD Area 1

Opponent Petersen trails by 249 votes with vast majority of ballots counted

More than a week after the general election, the race for the Area 1 seat on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education has flipped again, with current leader Jesse vanZee now at the widest margin yet in the San Ramon Valley's closest contest this fall.

Jesse vanZee (Contributed photo)

The Contra Costa County Elections Division released its second interim update with the latest vote counts on Wednesday afternoon, showing vanZee jumping ahead of fellow newcomer Michelle Petersen by 1.77% of the vote, or 249 ballots, in the three-candidate race for the open board seat.

As of Wednesday's update, the county reports that 14,098 ballots have been counted in the only competitive race for SRVUSD board. Approximately 6,800 ballots remain to be processed countywide, but it is unclear how many of those come from within SRVUSD's boundaries.

Officials said they would seek to process as many of the remaining ballots as possible by Friday.

Although vanZee said he wouldn't be officially declaring victory until after the Friday update, he was all but certain that his lead would hold.

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"WOW. BIG UPDATE: With over 99% of the ballots counted for area 1, we are up by 249 votes," vanZee said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "This tally is our largest lead yet, and statistically, it is unsurmountable. The results will get finalized at the end of November, but it looks like we did it!!!! Thank you to everyone, and a big congrats to my team of volunteers.

In addition to being a tight race, the campaign for the Area 1 seat itself proved to be one of the more hotly contested ones locally, with vanZee running on a platform that heavily emphasized parental involvement, reduced spending, and the elimination of "woke education," "gender theory" and "anti-American education" according to a campaign mailer sent ahead of the election.

Despite taking on conservative talking points, vanZee sought to emphasize that his overall mission will be to reduce what he sees as division in public education, and has said during the campaign that his efforts to address problems in the district are not political.

Petersen said on Thursday that while she was discouraged by the new numbers, she wanted to encourage her supporters about the future of the district, despite her apparent narrow loss as of the latest update.

"I would like people to remember when they look at these results; we are a community that is still very much in line with the direction of this district and that we are united and not divided," Petersen told DanvilleSanRamon.

However, she attributed vanZee's apparent victory to the fact that she and the third candidate in the race, Alamo attorney Jerome Pandell, had run on similar platforms and thereby split the vote.

"Jesse vanZee won because Jerome Pandell and I split the vote. Period," Petersen said. "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."

As of Wednesday's totals, vanZee sits in the lead with 5,953 votes (42.25%) ahead of second-place Petersen at 5,704 votes (40.48%) and third-place Pandell at 2,433 votes (17.27%).

In the preliminary ballot counts on Election Night (Nov. 8), Petersen was in the lead throughout the night until the final update late that night, which saw vanZee pull ahead narrowly in the tally at that point. Petersen then took the lead again in the county's first interim update last Thursday.

The trio were competing for the Area 1 seat, representing the northern part of the San Ramon Valley, that was wide open with incumbent Board Member Ken Mintz choosing not to seek reelection.

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Jeanita Lyman
Jeanita Lyman joined the Pleasanton Weekly in September 2020 and covers the Danville and San Ramon beat. She studied journalism at Skyline College and Mills College while covering the Peninsula for the San Mateo Daily Journal, after moving back to the area in 2013. Read more >>

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vanZee pulls ahead to healthy lead in latest election count for SRVUSD Area 1

Opponent Petersen trails by 249 votes with vast majority of ballots counted

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 4:32 pm

More than a week after the general election, the race for the Area 1 seat on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education has flipped again, with current leader Jesse vanZee now at the widest margin yet in the San Ramon Valley's closest contest this fall.

The Contra Costa County Elections Division released its second interim update with the latest vote counts on Wednesday afternoon, showing vanZee jumping ahead of fellow newcomer Michelle Petersen by 1.77% of the vote, or 249 ballots, in the three-candidate race for the open board seat.

As of Wednesday's update, the county reports that 14,098 ballots have been counted in the only competitive race for SRVUSD board. Approximately 6,800 ballots remain to be processed countywide, but it is unclear how many of those come from within SRVUSD's boundaries.

Officials said they would seek to process as many of the remaining ballots as possible by Friday.

Although vanZee said he wouldn't be officially declaring victory until after the Friday update, he was all but certain that his lead would hold.

"WOW. BIG UPDATE: With over 99% of the ballots counted for area 1, we are up by 249 votes," vanZee said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "This tally is our largest lead yet, and statistically, it is unsurmountable. The results will get finalized at the end of November, but it looks like we did it!!!! Thank you to everyone, and a big congrats to my team of volunteers.

In addition to being a tight race, the campaign for the Area 1 seat itself proved to be one of the more hotly contested ones locally, with vanZee running on a platform that heavily emphasized parental involvement, reduced spending, and the elimination of "woke education," "gender theory" and "anti-American education" according to a campaign mailer sent ahead of the election.

Despite taking on conservative talking points, vanZee sought to emphasize that his overall mission will be to reduce what he sees as division in public education, and has said during the campaign that his efforts to address problems in the district are not political.

Petersen said on Thursday that while she was discouraged by the new numbers, she wanted to encourage her supporters about the future of the district, despite her apparent narrow loss as of the latest update.

"I would like people to remember when they look at these results; we are a community that is still very much in line with the direction of this district and that we are united and not divided," Petersen told DanvilleSanRamon.

However, she attributed vanZee's apparent victory to the fact that she and the third candidate in the race, Alamo attorney Jerome Pandell, had run on similar platforms and thereby split the vote.

"Jesse vanZee won because Jerome Pandell and I split the vote. Period," Petersen said. "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."

As of Wednesday's totals, vanZee sits in the lead with 5,953 votes (42.25%) ahead of second-place Petersen at 5,704 votes (40.48%) and third-place Pandell at 2,433 votes (17.27%).

In the preliminary ballot counts on Election Night (Nov. 8), Petersen was in the lead throughout the night until the final update late that night, which saw vanZee pull ahead narrowly in the tally at that point. Petersen then took the lead again in the county's first interim update last Thursday.

The trio were competing for the Area 1 seat, representing the northern part of the San Ramon Valley, that was wide open with incumbent Board Member Ken Mintz choosing not to seek reelection.

Comments

Parent and Voter
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:11 pm
Parent and Voter, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:11 pm

This election shows that every vote is important so my family has always taken the time to research the issues and then vote. Jesse van Zee will add a new voice to the SRVUSD seat that will be welcome. That is a positive.


Alamo Resident
Registered user
Alamo
on Nov 18, 2022 at 10:53 am
Alamo Resident, Alamo
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2022 at 10:53 am

I believe Petersen's response is another ploy to politicize the other candidate- Do we really want a one party democracy? Isn't that exactly what we don't want! She had the gull to send out mailers with header "Vote Democrat"- I think this race will reward who didn't hit below the belt and rose above the far left 'noise' to threatening anti-gay, racism, book banning, etc. vanZee just wants to improve the district for the next decade- the finances needs a good review on why two CFOs have left the district in the last 2 years...and how can the district support 8% teacher raises every year + 'me too' raises for administration-- with enrollment declining and test scores falling.


MO
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 18, 2022 at 11:04 am
MO, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2022 at 11:04 am

I would have voted for Jesse VanZee, but SRVUSD Area 1 was not on my ballot, even though I live in Danville.???
Another mystery surrounds the length of time it takes to count the votes. Almost 2 weeks defies logic.


Mike Arata
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 19, 2022 at 8:15 pm
Mike Arata, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2022 at 8:15 pm

Friday’s (Nov. 18th’s) third ballot-count update shows Jesse vanZee still leading Michelle Petersen, now by 243 votes, with approximately 3,800 remaining ballots County-wide still to be processed.

So far, the SRVUSD Area 1 election has 14,191 total ballots counted, = 3.64% of the 389,718 ballots tallied in the County as a whole. Were 3.64% of the residual uncounted County ballots (i.e., 138 ballots) all to vote Petersen, Mr. vanZee would still prevail in the end.

Given vanZee’s “platform that heavily emphasized parental involvement, reduced spending, and the elimination of ‘woke education,’ ‘gender theory’ and ‘anti-American education,’” his victory would be highly beneficial for students and gratifying to parents and other taxpayers who want local schools focused on the teaching and learning of knowledge and skills, not usurping parental authority with crude indoctrination.

In contrast, Mrs. Petersen wants an SRVUSD school “community that is still very much in line with the direction of this district.” That direction includes heavy-duty critical race theory (i.e., overtly racist “anti-racism,” see Web Link ) — and what SRVUSD personnel have themselves characterized proudly as “queering the classroom” in their how-to discussion of “Affirming LGBTQ+ Identities in the Elementary Grades” for the National Council of Teachers of English (!). (See Web Link .)

Petersen also says she “shares a similar platform” with Jerome Pandell, the third Area 1 candidate, who is irretrievably far behind.

Pandell was endorsed and generously funded by the San Ramon Valley Education Association, the local teacher-union affiliate of the radical CTA and NEA state and national unions. If the 2011-2014 Pandell tweets revealed in a Matt Todd podcast ( Web Link ) are accurately reported, Petersen may wish to reconsider her “similar platform” alignment.


Parent and Voter
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 20, 2022 at 7:52 am
Parent and Voter, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 20, 2022 at 7:52 am

The quotes from Michelle Peterson just affirm that I made the right choice in voting for van Zee.
It is not gracious loser rhetoric when she says that her votes plus those of Pandell would have beaten the winner. That logic could also imply that Pandell would have won if she had not run.
I think that we have a successful educational system locally because of the parents and in spite of the current members of the School Board and the Union. I welcome a new voice that represents the parents and emphasizes core education. Just my opinion.


tomdanville
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 21, 2022 at 9:53 am
tomdanville, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2022 at 9:53 am

so this is considered factual and respectful from Mike Arata and my comments are not ?

In contrast, Mrs. Petersen wants an SRVUSD school “community that is still very much in line with the direction of this district.” That direction includes heavy-duty critical race theory (i.e., overtly racist “anti-racism,” see Web Link ) — and what SRVUSD personnel have themselves characterized proudly as “queering the classroom” in their how-to discussion of “Affirming LGBTQ+ Identities in the Elementary Grades” for the National Council of Teachers of English (!). (See Web Link .)

No wonder people think you are just a right wing promoting site . You try and hide your views as deftly as VanZee did but most people aren't fooled.


Gina M Channell, Publisher
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 21, 2022 at 10:06 am
Gina M Channell, Publisher, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2022 at 10:06 am

@tomdanville -- Nothing in Mike Arata's post is untrue. Petersen ran on the platform that the district should continue in its current direction.

The Cal High mascot incident last year clearly shows "racism" will be used by the administration to achieve its goals. Web Link

And it is a fact that two district instructors presented "Queering the classroom" at a conference.




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