Exploring Our Civic Duty in an “Off Year”
A Brief Civics Lesson
As a bachelor of science in political Science from SCU, I always get excited during election season. I love deep dives into campaign websites, debating minute nuances of policy, and watching results come in on election night. That last one has been tempered by the recent ubiquity of mail-in voting, which takes a great deal longer to tally up. But anyway, I hope you enjoy this diversion from the usual fare on this blog as I indulge in my degree.
In the tapestry of democracy, special elections are distinct threads, woven into the fabric of governance. They are often a response to unique circumstances (like unexpected vacancies) and an essential component of civic participation. Special elections are a testament to the resilience of our democratic system, offering citizens the opportunity to shape their communities even in the “off season” of politics.
On November 7th, 2023, Santa Clara County is poised for one such special election. Though special elections usually have low participation, important issues will be decided and office-holders will be chosen. This election presents a pair of decisions, where each vote casts a ripple effect across our educational landscape.
In this upcoming special election, local residents will cast their ballots on up to two items: the election of a board of trustees member and the fate of a parcel tax. This election stands as a testament to the power of local governance, influencing education and resources in our community. To help you make an informed choice, we will explore the role of a trustee, the background of each candidate, the purpose of the parcel tax, and the potential impact of our collective decision. In doing so, we hope to encourage civic participation at all levels.
What to Expect
On the ballot for Santa Clara County's upcoming special election, voters will decide on up to two significant items that warrant their attention and informed decision-making. These decisions hold the potential to shape the educational landscape and community resources within the county.
The Board of Trustees Position
At the forefront of this election is the opportunity to elect a new short-term member to the Board of Trustees. This position holds immense responsibility in shaping the direction and policies of the educational institutions it governs. The role of a trustee involves overseeing critical aspects of the educational system, making decisions that directly impact the students, faculty, and staff.
It's worth noting that the trustee position in this special election is not a full-term position. Rather, it's an opportunity to fill a short-term vacancy. This means that the individual elected to this role will serve for a defined period, often to complete the term of the former trustee who left the position prematurely. Short-term trustees play a crucial role in maintaining continuity and ensuring that the Board of Trustees remains fully functional even in the face of unexpected departures.
Parcel Tax (Measure A)
The second item on the ballot, Measure A, pertains to a parcel tax and is only voted on by those affected by said tax. It is a means of generating additional local revenue, typically used to fund specific programs or initiatives. In this case, Measure A aims to renew existing local funding and allocate it to essential educational endeavors. Its purpose is to support educational programs in reading, writing, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), and to ensure that Los Altos School District elementary and junior high schools maintain their high quality.
With the fate of these items in the hands of the voters, it is paramount that each citizen takes the time to understand the implications of their choices.
In the upcoming special election in Santa Clara County, several individuals have stepped forward to run for the Board of Trustees position, each offering unique qualifications, experiences, and visions for the role. Here we will provide brief candidate summaries for your consideration. Additionally, we'll present the exact text of Measure A, the parcel tax proposal, to give voters a complete understanding of what's at stake in this election.
Board of Trustees Position Candidates
Occupation: High School Teacher and Community College Advisor
Qualifications: Clay Hale is an experienced high school teacher and community college advisor. His unique perspective as an educator at both levels and his personal experiences make him a strong advocate for students.
Occupation: Retired Professor
Qualifications: With a background in education and marketing/communication, Stephen Eckstone brings extensive experience to the table. His career in teaching and his work with various organizations have prepared him for the role.
Occupation: Father and Director
Qualifications: Diego Barragán, a father of two and a graduate with a Master's in Business Administration, is driven by the mission of expanding educational opportunities for the community and ensuring a better tomorrow for families.
Occupation: Educational Nonprofit Leader
Qualifications: As an educational nonprofit leader, Lisanna Dominguez is passionate about student success. Her experience with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and her personal journey through community colleges make her a strong advocate for education.
Occupation: Law Student
Qualifications: No statement provided, but his inclusion on the ballot underscores the inclusive nature of the democratic process, where individuals can run for office without taking all the usual bureaucratic steps.
Measure A: Parcel Tax Text
Below is the exact text of Measure A, the parcel tax proposal:
Los Altos School District
To attract and retain highly qualified teachers, protect core academic programs in reading, writing, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, and maintain high-quality neighborhood elementary and junior high schools; shall Los Altos School District’s measure be adopted, renewing expiring local funding at the current $223 rate plus $72, per parcel, providing $3.7 million annually for 8 years that cannot be taken by the State, with senior exemptions, annual adjustments, independent oversight, and no funds for administrators?
Understanding this measure is crucial for making an informed decision in the upcoming special election, as it directly affects educational programs and funding in the Los Altos School District.
Now that we've explored the candidates and the parcel tax proposal on the ballot for Santa Clara County's special election, it's time to underscore the significance of your role in all this. Your participation in this election holds the power to shape the educational future of your community, ensuring it aligns with your priorities.
Voting is the cornerstone of any democracy. It is the vehicle through which your voice and choices are registered. Your vote matters and has a direct impact on the trajectory of your local educational institutions. Exercise this fundamental right to help build a community that reflects your values.
To make the most of your vote, it's essential to be informed. Take the time to learn about the candidates and their qualifications, as well as the specific details of Measure A. Attend local debates or forums, research their platforms, and understand how their positions align with your beliefs and community needs.
While voting is a crucial component of civic engagement, it's just the beginning. Engaging with your representatives, discussing the issues, and participating in public forums can lead to positive change. Whether through volunteering, attending school board meetings, or joining local education initiatives, your involvement can make a lasting impact.
This special election serves as a reminder that our community's educational landscape is shaped not only by elected officials but also by the collective engagement of its residents. Your involvement in the educational process demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of your fellow community members and future generations. It is a testament to the strength of community-driven change.
We are blessed to have many options for voting early, so check out the county website for more information and resources so you can keep the pumping heart of democracy strong. If you’re an AP Government student, and are looking for further discussion or support for your test at the end of the school year, check out our booking page and we’d be happy to help.
As we approach election day (November 7th), remember that your participation matters. By casting your vote, staying informed, and actively participating in the community, you become an integral part of shaping the educational future of Santa Clara County. Let your voice be heard, and together, we can build a brighter, more inclusive future for all.