A trio of school board candidates running on the same campaign slate with a shared mission to bring equity back to Hollister School District are sitting one-two-three in the race for three at-large seats, according to the latest unofficial election results from the San Benito County Registrar of Voters.
The most immediate directive for frontrunners Carla Torres-Deluna, Stephen Kain and Jan Grist—who were leading a six-candidate field this week—will be assisting in the process of selecting the district’s next superintendent.
“That’s the No. 1 part of our agenda: hiring a new superintendent and knowing we want to hire somebody who wants to enforce our vision,” said Kain, who had been substitute teaching at various sites after nearly three decades as an educator with HSD. “We want to bring equity back to the district because all students that go to HSD deserve equal treatment, and I’m not so sure that’s happening right now.”
Torres-Deluna, a 43-year-old social worker and parent of two students in the district, continued to top the field with 3,819 votes, or 22 percent, followed by two retired educators, 66-year-old Kain with 3, 509 votes or 20 percent, and 64-year-old Grist with 3,278 votes, close to 19 percent.
Grist’s lead over current board president Patricia Moore was 194 votes, with some mail-in and provisional ballots still to be counted. Roxanne Stephens received 1,877 votes and Brande Barrett, 1,733.
“It would be great if (the next superintendent) was bilingual, from Hollister or invested in our community and planning to live here. Also, (we want) someone who understands the diversity of our community, knows who the children are and who their parents are, and is willing to listen and work with everyone,” said Torres-Deluna, who also detailed the trio’s agenda of improving the special education and migrant student programs.
Former superintendent Lisa Andrew, who did not reside in Hollister and commuted from outside the area, unexpectedly resigned over the summer after serving two years with HSD. Matthew Barr was selected July 6 to work as the interim superintendent on a 46-day contract until a permanent leader was hired. The district hired a search firm to facilitate in the hiring process.
“Dr. Barr made sure that we were included in giving our input with the search firm that was hired. The (current) board has been very welcoming in making sure we’re part of the process as well,” said Grist. “I just really feel very passionate about trying to continue to give back in education, something I’ve done for the last 28 years. This will just be in a different capacity.”
The three election-day winners will join Robert Bernosky and Elizabeth Martinez on the HSD board.
“I just want to say that the three of us are going to work with the entire board and try to find the best new superintendent we can and do the best job we can with the most precious commodity the city has, which is children of Hollister,” said Grist, adding another goal is improving communication between the board and teachers at each of the school sites.
The new board will be sworn in Dec. 7, at which time they will lead the first round of superintendent interviews.