Big shift for district board

Three of five trustees on MV Whisman board will not seek re-election in November

Three out of five trustees from Mountain View's elementary and middle school district have announced they will not seek re-election when their terms expire late this year, paving the way for a big shift in the makeup of the board, according to the board's president.

Steve Olson made the announcement early July 6, in an email to the Voice. "Fiona (Walter), Ed (Bailey) and I wanted to let you know that all three of us are not planning to seek re-election in November," Olson wrote, noting that all three are departing for unrelated reasons.

"It has been a tremendous pleasure to serve the district and I feel blessed to have worked with a thoughtful and committed team of trustees and district administrators."

With three slots on the board opening up, Olson is anticipating an interesting election. When reached by phone, he said he hopes the board will benefit from "fresh perspectives" in 2013. "I think it's good for the district."

Olson said that he couldn't comment on the reasons his colleagues -- Walter and Bailey -- had for deciding not to run again. Speaking for himself, though, the board president said he would like to dedicate more time to his two young children and his mother.

"I was happy to step up and serve," he said, but added: "It's a challenge, I have to say. I have a full-time job."

"We're extremely grateful for every service that Steve, Fiona and Ed have provided through their membership on the board," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District.

Goldman said that the district has been fortunate to continually get highly committed trustees, dedicated to the academic "success of every child" in Mountain View. "I expect that there will be community members that have a similar calling for the November election."

There are at least three, and perhaps four individuals Olson knows of who have told him they have an interest in running. Additionally, Steve Nelson -- a highly active community member who recently led a campaign opposing the ultimately successful Measure G school bond -- has expressed to the Voice that he intends to run for a position on the board this November.

Nelson said he is surprised to learn that all three members up for re-election have decided not to run. "I hope we get at least one or two good candidates from the former Whisman side of the district," he said, noting he feels that side of the district is generally underrepresented at district board meetings.

Olson is leaving the district after serving for four years. He was elected in 2008 to the seat, which had been left by Gloria Higgins.

Though at the time Olson said he was relieved to run unopposed, he said that he sometimes wishes he had been challenged. "I'm not sure that's healthy," he said. "My hope is that we have a number of people running. I remember attending debates between school board candidates in previous elections. It was a great thing for the community, I thought, to have that kind of dialogue."

Walter is coming to the end of her second four-year term in November. Olson said Walter is on vacation, and she could not be reached for comment.

Bailey has served on the board for about five years. He was first appointed to his seat about a year before running for re-election unopposed in November 2008.

Anyone interested in running for a seat on the board may begin the process of filing papers with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters' office on July 16. The deadline to file is August 10.


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Posted by Marti
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm

My many thanks to Steve Olson, Ed Bailey and Fiona Walter on their service to our school district and to our community.... You are leaving the school districe doing well. Many Thanks!

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

There are many things that Mr. Olson has contributed as a board member, and current President. It is indeed a large commitment to this type of position (also the HS Board and the City Council). Several of the members on these government bodies have essentially made community service in-lieu of full-time employment commitments. I personally know Walter, Wheeler, and Mitchner (schools) and Siegal and Bryant (city) have made this commitment.
Stephen stepped up to run (2008), even though he has a full-time job in finance at Stanford. IMO, it was much better to have a 'stand up' rather than an appointed member. The problem with appointment? Board members tend to appoint those who 'think like themselves'. A 'team'. But look at Penn State athletics - or the dire administrative problems at Woodside and Portola schools to see some of the pitfalls of 'team thinking'.
I like my local democracy lively with ideas - have you been to one of our wonderful city council meetings lately! What a great standard of lively discussion, new ideas, compromise, and open community input (how many citizens does it take to do an environmental plan - or a Rengstorff Park plan?)

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

You've got my vote Mr. Nelson.

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Posted by Rene
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Some board members run for school board just while their kids are in schools in the district so they can put pressure on the system to get their kids the best treatment. I'm not sure how much it is actually about the schools and the community. It's politics after all.

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