Editorial endorsements: Gutierrez, Wilson and Blakely for school board


The Mountain View Whisman school community is fortunate to have four strong candidates for seats on the district's governing board. What might be considered unfortunate, though, is that there are only three open seats.

The school district appears to be on the right course with its relatively new but solid administrative leadership. Since Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph came aboard in July 2015, strides have been made in improving achievement among lower-wealth, minority and disabled students, and what had seemed a murky process for building and repairing the district's schools with Measure G bond revenue is now a clear way forward.

Jose Gutierrez

Laura Blakely

Tamara Wilson
But progress has been difficult at times, thanks to a governing board whose frequent bickering and attempts by some members to micromanage the district have resulted in dysfunction and public disgust. Two of the five members have chosen not to run for re-election this year, including Steve Nelson, whose antics and counterproductive behavior have led to his censure by fellow board members.

Hopes for a new school board that will be effective in its governance of the district and supportive of the schools' administrative leaders are high with a slate of four candidates with much to offer: Tamara Wilson, Peter Darrah, Jose Gutierrez and Laura Blakely. With only three open seats, the Voice endorses Wilson, Gutierrez and Blakely.

Jose Gutierrez

The school board appointed Gutierrez last year to fill the unexpired term of Chris Chiang, who resigned in June 2015 citing as his reason the hostile behavior of trustee Steve Nelson. More than one year later, Gutierrez has a record that demonstrates the board's choice was a good one, and he deserves a full, four-year term to continue his work on behalf of the district.

Gutierrez says he's committed to doing his part to restore civility to the board, and the community's confidence in the board's elected members. His performance since August 2015 speaks to the integrity of that commitment.

Gutierrez lives in the Castro neighborhood, and brings a valuable perspective from that underrepresented area of the district.

Tamara Wilson

Wilson was a leader in the movement to reopen Slater Elementary in northeastern Mountain View, which has been closed as a public school since 2006. The board last year endorsed the plan to reopen the school. Wilson said she's a proponent of neighborhood schools in general.

Wilson is a research geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey, but her background isn't limited to the sciences: She's also been a university-level teacher and a volunteer tutor whose efforts include tutoring at Castro Elementary through the Reading Partners program.

Wilson has solid ideas on closing the achievement gap, and an open mind toward finding creative solutions to the troubling teacher-retention problem the district faces. She would bring to the governing board energy, analytical thinking and innovative ideas.

Laura Blakely

Blakely's involvement in the district began some 14 years ago when she volunteered at her children's school, but it didn't end when the kids moved on to high school. She has been involved in leading parcel tax efforts and as a leader in the nonprofit Mountain View Educational Foundation, which raises money for the district's schools. An attorney, she's applied her legal expertise in district initiatives such as securing for the schools millions of dollars in property tax revenue that had been funneled into the Shoreline Regional Park Community district.

Why does she want to continue her work with the elementary school district even though her children no longer attend its schools? She has a deep-rooted "fondness for Mountain View Whisman," she says, but she also is committed to the mission of providing kids with high-quality early childhood education. "If you lose them in K-8," she says, "you've lost them."

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