Meet the MVLA School District Board candidates


Photo by Naina Srivastava

Naina Srivastava, Co-editor-in-chief

*Endorsements are on behalf of the Oracle Editorial Board and do not represent the views of all staff members.

Six candidates are running for the Mountain View-Los Altos School District board, which ensures that school districts are responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of their communities. Individuals over 18 can vote for their preferred candidates in the midterm elections. Here’s everything you need to know about the candidates. The Oracle Editorial Board endorses candidates Eric Mark, Esmeralda Ortiz, and Catherine Vonnegut.


Thida Cornes

Cornes has served on multiple Mountain View and Mountain View Whisman School District committees. She has two children who attended MVLA schools before transferring.

Cornes said her top priorities are improving student health and wellness, promoting academic achievement for all students, and ensuring fiscal responsibility and transparency. She cited how 50% of MVLA students have mental health issues, according to the district’s projection.

Cornes said this issue is personal to her because she has family members who have dealt with severe mental health issues.

“This is something we need to get right,” Cornes said.

She said she wants MVLA to work with Santa Clara County and deepen partnerships with other mental health providers. Cornes also said she wants to use State Career Pathways and increase enrollment in alternative programs like AVID, Middle College, and Alta Vista High School. She also wants the district to work more closely with local K-8 districts for a smoother transition.


Eric Mark – Endorsed

Mark is a retired computer sales systems specialist and has been an active volunteer in local school districts, serving as a coach for his kids’ sports teams and an AVID tutor. He has three children who are all attending or have graduated MVHS.

Mark said his top priorities include addressing mental health, educational diversity and physical governance. He proposed implementing an AP class cap and eliminating weighted GPAs, to reduce grade fixation.

“I would put our AP classes and whatnot against any schools, but I think students also need to have a broader education in regards to learning how to live in our multicultural society,” Mark said.

He is also a strong supporter of the ethnic studies curriculum which is being piloted this year.

“I’d like to also provide an education where students can be more environmentally, socially, fiscally-responsible global citizens,” Mark said.


Esmeralda Ortiz  – Endorsed

Ortiz is vice president of high school and postsecondary programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. Her husband is a tenured English teacher at MVHS. As a first generation immigrant, Ortiz said she knows how important education is in determining a student’s success.

“I don’t have children yet,” Ortiz said, in a recording projected at the Teacher’s Association’s candidate forum. “However, I do have hundreds of students every year that allow me to keep a close pulse on their needs and inform the possibilities for tomorrow.”

Ortiz is an advocate for dual enrollment classes and said that many of her students in dual enrollment are less stressed than those taking AP courses.

“There’s a lot more courses that the community colleges have that are not available on a high school campus,” Ortiz said, in an interview with the Midpeninsula Post. “So students have more agency to choose courses that are more culturally relevant or cater more to their specific interests.”


Jacquie Tanner

Tanner recently retired from her job as a senior production materials planner at Tesla and said she is now ready to put her skills toward the school district. Her daughter is a freshman at Los Altos High School.

“I feel that I’m uniquely positioned to take on this role to represent the students and parents of MVLA,” Tanner said. “I’m both a mother of a freshman at Los Altos High School and I’m new to public office.”

She said this gives her a “fresh independent perspective” on the district’s issues. Tanner is in support of talking about controversial current events in class because she said it gives them multiple perspectives and not all parents are able to have these conversations with their children. Tanner is against AP caps.

“I think it’s up to the student … and parents should know what their kids can handle,” she said. “The last thing would be the school themselves. Counselors should know what the child can handle. So it’s a group connection.”


Carrol Titus-Zambre

Titus-Zambre is the founder of Golden Poppy Inc., which encouraged STEM-based learning through augmented reality games. She’s served as a sports coach for LAHS and the National Youth Volleyball Association, and as a Girl Scout troop leader. She has three children who are all attending or have graduated from LAHS.

Titus-Zambre falsely claimed that she was endorsed by Superintendent Nellie Meyer, according to a Los Altos Town Crier report. She later said she misunderstood what an endorsement meant because of her “limited knowledge” in a Mountain View Voice report.

She also allegedly threatened a Los Altos High School Talon reporter last year, after the newspaper published an article in which she questioned the science of wearing masks and claimed that teachers were being paid without working during the pandemic.

Titus-Zambre said her goal is to help MVLA students graduate with the 21st century skills they need to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

“I know we have several third party providers that are doing a lot,” Titus-Zambre said. “It would be great to actually have the teachers do all these [mental health] checks.”

When asked whether she believed controversial cultural and current events should be talked about in the classroom, Titus-Zambre said she was “Switzerland” until she received more data.


Catherine Vonnegut – Endorsed

Vonnegut is the only incumbent running. She was elected to the board in 2018 and currently serves as president and as a member of the finance committee. Vonnegut is a graduate of Mountain View’s leadership, CERT, and Citizen Police Academy programs.

Before retiring, Vonnnegut worked as a software engineer and an EMR for Santa Clara County. Her son graduated from MVHS.

Vonnegut said her top priorities are to deliver the best education, support financial stability and have more inclusive and equitable staff training and student interaction.

“You can innovate in any of these areas,” Vonnegut said. “And we can have communication with everybody about these things.”