Two longtime Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District (MVLA) board members have announced they won't be seeking reelection this fall, leaving a pair of vacancies on the high school district's board.
Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok jointly announced their decision not to run again on Friday, July 1. Torok has served three terms on the board. Walter was first elected to the high school district in 2014 and previously served eight years on the K-8 Mountain View Whisman School District's board.
Current MVLA board President Catherine Vonnegut's term also expires this November. Vonnegut was first elected in 2018 and told the Voice that she plans to run again. Walter and Torok both said they would support Vonnegut's reelection bid.
The remaining two board members, Phil Faillace and Sanjay Dave, were both reelected in 2020 and their current terms run through 2024.
In an interview, Torok said that the pandemic has made the past few years a difficult time to serve on the school board. Though she acknowledged that those challenges had some influence on her decision not to seek another term, she said the bigger factor was a desire to spend more time with her family as she nears retirement.
Torok added that she feels the district is in a better situation now with schools reopened and that if she hadn't thought the district was in good shape, she would have considered staying on the board.
"I would never have wanted to jeopardize the district in any way, to leave them without a good foundation," Torok said.
Despite the challenges, she said she looked back positively on her years serving the district.
"I've enjoyed my time on the board, even during the stressful times I feel like we've done well and our students' successes show it," Torok said.
Walter said that her decision to leave wasn't connected to the pandemic, but instead that now is a good time to spend time with her family, travel and focus on other work in the community. Walter and Torok both have grown children who have graduated from college.
"The team, the people, have been incredible," Walter said. "Every single person in this district – from custodian to superintendent – has students at the forefront and it's an amazing atmosphere to be in."
Walter and Torok both said they hope that people will be interested in running for a seat on the board this November.
"We have great people in the community … who hopefully will step up and do a great job, because I know that there's more people out there who can contribute," Walter said.
Those interested in running can pick up nomination papers from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters starting on Monday, July 18. The filing period closes Aug. 12, but is extended for five days if an incumbent chooses not to run for reelection. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.