Candidates to Know

San Jose Unified Board of Education and Santa Clara County Board of Education

Innovate Public Schools is a nonprofit community organization that builds the leadership and capacity of parents and educators across California and nationwide to realize the excellent, equitable public school systems that our children deserve.

We created this voter guide to help you make your vote count for kids this election.

As a nonprofit 501c3, Innovate Public Schools cannot and does not endorse candidates.


San Jose Unified School District School Board

The San Jose Unified School District Board of Education oversees 41 public K-12 schools in San Jose, California with nearly 29,000 students. The Board is composed of five members elected by trustee area and one student board member who is appointed each year by the SJUSD Board of Education.

Trustees for the odd-numbered areas are chosen by voters during presidential elections, thus all of these seats are up for election in the 2020 election cycle. Trustees for even-numbered areas are voted on during gubernatorial elections.

The following candidates are up for election or re-election in 2020.

We asked these candidates to provide video answers to the following questions:

  • What do you believe needs to be implemented to mitigate learning loss and improve academic outcomes for Latino and Black students, students with special needs, and English learners? What is your analysis of what is working and not working currently? How will you evaluate the district’s success on this, particularly given that statewide assessments are cancelled?

  • If elected, what are the ways in which you as a board member will continue to engage with and represent the voice of parents and community organizations?

Area 1

Teresa Castellanos

Coming soon!

Anthony Macías

We did not hear back from Anthony Macías.

Area 3

Kristen Brown

Kristen is a mother of two sons with Autism who are now students at Willow Glen High School. Over the last four years, Kristen has been a Vice Chair and Chairperson for the Community Advisory Committee for Special education. To keep up to speed, Kristen attended meetings held by the District and County Board, District English Language Advisory Committee, Voluntary Integration Plan and Parent Teacher Association Council. Kristen volunteers for Parents Helping Parents, Sacred Heart, and has a history advocating for the underserved. Kristen advocates for education at the local, state and national levels.

Kristen witnessed the harm a lack of oversight in District policy can do. Her son's recovery involved unschooling, home schooling and a therapeutic Non-Public school. Kristen feels this experience has given her a deeper understanding of what it takes to teach the whole child and where public education should be improving systems.

Kristen’s plan is to focus on oversight and accountability, expansion of technology adoption, community collaboration and mental health accessibility. She is eager to join the board team, connect with the school site committees and engage with parents, students and staff on their terms to collaborate on the future of San Jose Unified School District.

Carla Collins

I'm a San Jose native, lifelong feminist, and mom to three amazing students, ages 8, 10, and 15. My personal history, professional work and commitment to community make me the strongest candidate to represent Area 3. I'm deeply rooted in our community, the product of some of the hardest working women you could ever meet starting with my maternal grandmother, Carmen Hernandez. She was a loving single mother of five, a migrant field worker who settled in this valley with a dream for her family to have opportunities she could not imagine for herself. My priorities are to bring our students and staff safely back to campus, increase communication, especially during these difficult times, and always lead with equity.

Tomara Hall

I’m an Afro-Latina Special Education Teacher and Equity Leader. Originally from Modesto, I grew up in a life of poverty and violence. I became a teacher to support struggling students that share my lived experience. Having earned an Education Specialist Credential and a Master’s in Special Education, I know how to promote student success and build family relationships. I believe in a feedback cycle to learn community concerns. I have done that by educating parents and learning how to better support them. As an Equity leader on my campus, I have promoted more diversity in representation, inclusive practices and equitable lessons. I will bring representation and empathic insight to the San Jose Unified School Board.

Carol Myers

I taught special education for 32 years in East Side Union High School District. During retirement I have done substitute teaching. I served on the San Jose Unified School District board of education for 14 years. I have lived in Willow Glen all my life. I am an active member of my community volunteering and supporting community events and fund raisers.

For my campaign I have been walking precincts and connecting with many friends,. neighbors, and educators. I am doing a "grass roots" campaign and look forward to community support.

Area 5

Wendi Mahaney-Guruhoo

We did not hear back from Wendi Mahaney-Guruhoo.


Santa Clara County Office of Education

The Santa Clara County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Its seven members serve four-year terms and are elected from different regions of the county.

The following candidates are up for election or re-election in 2020.

We asked these candidates to provide video answers to the following questions:

  • What do you believe needs to be implemented to mitigate learning loss and improve academic outcomes for Latino and Black students, students with special needs, and English learners? What is your analysis of what is working and not working currently? How will you evaluate the county’s success on this, particularly given that statewide assessments are cancelled?

  • If elected, what are the ways in which you as a Trustee will continue to engage with and represent the voice of parents and community organizations?

Area 1

Melissa Baten Caswell

Our schools are facing unprecedented challenges. We need new leadership to ensure all kids thrive and our schools are safe. I’m running for Santa Clara County Board of Education to use innovative solutions and work collaboratively to solve our challenges.

My values are universal — excellent public education, closing the digital divide, giving all students the tools they need to succeed, and supporting our teachers. My supporters include Congressmember Anna Eshoo, Senator Jerry Hill, and 27 of the 30 local school board members.

I have worked as a tech executive for 20 years, served on the Palo Alto Unified School Board for 13 years, founded an education startup, and served as President of the Santa Clara County School Boards Association.

Grace Mah

For the past 13 years, Grace Mah has proudly served on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Grace is running for re-election so she can continue her work as an advocate for the students, parents, and teachers of Santa Clara County. She stands for equal access to an excellent education for all students. Grace’s 22 years of commitment to the community includes being the initiator for a language immersion program in Palo Alto, volunteering at Mountain View and Palo Alto schools, and being the Board President for Stevenson House. Grace has a B.S. from Caltech and an M.S. from UC Berkeley. She worked 18 years in high tech as an engineer, sales representative, and project manager.

Area 4

Joseph DiSalvo

For over three decades, I’ve served students and families in Santa Clara county schools -- as a Teacher, a School Principal, and now on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. With each vote I cast, I try to make an impact for all students. I believe we must do more to address inequality in schools and ensure every child can receive a quality education, no matter their background or zip code.

Experience matters, especially in the midst of a global crisis. I am the only member of the Board of Education with experience as a Teacher and Principal.

As a Trustee I am proud of my work to ensure the community has an annual report for school accountability, expand teacher recruitment, retention and affordable housing, and advocate for additional funding for high quality Early Learning.

I‘ll continue to fight for equity in these difficult times, so underserved students can get access to the educational tools and individualized attention they need while distance learning. I would be honored to have your vote.

Endorsements: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Mayor Sam Liccardo, Trustees Grace Mah, Anna Song, Full list at TrusteeDiSalvo.com.

Luca Garcia

Coming soon!

Ketzal Gómez

Ketzal Gomez is a proud product of San Jose public schools who has dedicated her career to advocating for our community’s most vulnerable members. As a lead staff of Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy, she has built an impressive record of accomplishment of public service.

She is running for the SSC Board of Education to bring a much-needed perspective to our local schools and ensure every child has access to a top-quality education.

On the Board, she will listen to teachers, parents, students and other community members to help our neighborhood schools and districts get the resources they need. She will treat all members of the community with respect to bring people together and improve our public schools.


Other Things to Know

Voter registration deadline is October 19! Find out the multiple ways to cast your vote in this upcoming election, including voting with a mail-in ballot automatically sent to all registered voters.

Innovate Public Schools endorses two statewide propositions. Learn why Propositions 15 and 16 are critical for advancing educational opportunity in our state.

Get to know your local school board and city council candidates' views and plans for improving education.

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