MVLA School Board election: overview of candidates


By Annika Ragnartz and Eli Hsia

At the October PTSA meeting, the candidates for the MVLA School Board election gathered to present their visions. There are seven candidates, two of whom are incumbents, running for three positions. At the meeting each candidate briefly presented about their background, qualifications, and their ideas to improve the school.

Fiona Walter, a 20 year Mountain View resident, stated that as an 8 year Mountain View Whisman Board member and former PTSA president, her  experience is what sets her apart. Some of her priorities include engaging parents, enhancing parent and community communication, expanding opportunities for all students, and easing the transition to common core.

Debbie Torok, a current member of the board, is running for re-election this year after serving her first term. In addition, Torok has served as PTSA president twice and Grad Night Chair four times. She stated that from her children’s experiences at MVHS, she has gained valuable insights. Torok, who has worked in the computer science field, would encourage women to consider STEM as a profession and would like to incorporate technology in the classroom as a supplement to the teacher, not a replacement. She would also work towards closing the achievement gap, preparing all students for post-graduation success, and having a smooth transition to the new common core standards.

Doug Moore, a 19 year Mountain View resident, is running because he believes the current school board is ineffective and flawed. He stated that because many of the members do not have children currently attending either MVHS or LAHS, they are not inclined to do as well of a job. Additionally, he cited the eight years of unanimous decisions as evidence that the current school board is dysfunctional, as any healthy governing body should represent all opinions. Moore has extensive experience in the private sector, as he was the CEO of a $40 million dollar company.

Joe Mitchner, also an incumbent, is running for his third term. Currently, Mitchner is the only school board member with children attending a district school. His goals for the school board are to improve achievement of all students, ensure fiscal stability, improve outreach to under-represented groups, and make the school board more accessible. Another change he would like to implement at the school is the creation of student led focus groups working towards decreasing students’ stress.

 Looking to bring change to the school board, Kevin Cramer describes himself as simply a “concerned parent.” His son is a freshmen at MVHS, and Cramer would like to see freshmen PE exemptions introduced and the guidelines for PE exemptions in general clarified. He would also like to see the board improve its transparency and communication. One of his major criticisms of the current school board is that they have handed over their power to decide to the superintendent, Dr. Barry Groves.

Parent of two students currently enrolled in district schools, Sanjay Dave believes that his collaborative nature gained from ten years in the semiconductor industry could help improve the school board. In addition, Dave has volunteered in a women’s prison, helping inmates earn their GED, and has taught math. He fundamentally believes that all students are gifted and must be developed wholistically. Critical thinking and problem solving needs to be encouraged and teachers need to be hired that truly believe in every students.

 Dana Bunnet has a child enrolled at LAHS and has been a resident of the Mountain View community for 18 years. She has work as a youth advocacy director, giving her lots of experience on how to improve youth outcomes. Her main goals are to shrink the achievement gap, engage the entire community, and maintain fiscal stability. One of her main concerns is the well being of each student, which she would address by having schools stress each student’s individual value beyond their grades.

In the upcoming school board election, there are seven candidates are running for only three available positions.This is the first contested election in many years. While some believe that experienced members is key to an effective school board, others believe change is necessary.

Check out the full-length video of the PTSA meeting below to learn more information about each individual candidate!