Longtime incumbent Richard Mayer appeared to be coasting to an easy victory for another term on the Goleta Union School District Board of Trustees.

Mayer had 59.0% of the vote over challenger Caroline Abate for the District 1 seat, according to semi-official election results from the County Elections Office. 

In the District 3 contest, teacher Emily Zacarias also had a strong early lead against two other candidates. 

Zacharias had 61.5% of the vote to 25.4% for Christy Lozano and 12.7% for Bert Haley.

Zacharias praised the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party who she said was like family in their support of her and her candidacy.

“I just want to say how amazingly gratified I am,” Zacharias said to crowd of supporters at The Timbers Restaurant in Goleta.

“I just declared in late August and it was a really short 10 weeks, but as soon as I got embraced by the Democratic Party, it was like ‘boom,’ family, everyone had my back. Everyone was out walking for me. It felt so good. It felt like I was embraced by this wonderful family with the same values.”

Mayer has served on the school board since 1981 and is the longest-serving elected official in Santa Barbara County. At more than 40 years, he is the longest-serving school board member in California.

Mayer joked in front of the large crowd at the Timbers that he was “a lot taller when he started.”

“I just want to say how grateful I am for the support of the Democratic Party,” Mayer said. “It is gratifying to have your support. It has made me feel full of gratitude.”

Mayer said that he learned during this campaign that the people of Goleta really value Goleta schools.

“They appreciate what we do, they support what we do,” Mayer said. 

He’s also a psychologist who teaches at UC Santa Barbara.

Mayer participated in three anti-racism training programs that the district has offered. He also serves as the board’s representative on the district English Learner Advisory Committee, consisting of parents and administrators from each school.

He touted the fact that the district hired extra teachers to reduce class sizes down to below 20-to-1, and hired permanent substitutes at each school to make sure that classes continued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zacarias is a special education teacher who works for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

She grew up in Sherman Oaks and moved to Santa Barbara in 1999 to go to UCSB, where she majored in psychology.

After getting a master’s degree, she traveled the world and then received her teaching credential for special education students through the Los Angeles Unified School District.

She said one of her main priorities is ensuring inclusive school campuses that do not discriminate against any student, no matter their ability, ethnicity, gender identity, or cultural background or religion.

She points to her experience on the ground, along with a calling to teach to special education students, as reasons why she is the best suited for the position. 

Abate is well known in political circles, openly displaying her support for former President Donald Trump, religion and pro-life positions.

She is focused on improving literacy rates and test scores for students. She said the purpose of a school is to educate students, so improving test scores is a priority.

She said during the campaign that Goleta students should have an understanding of the American tradition of personal responsibility and individual freedom and liberty, and above all, “teach a profound respect for the dignity of all human life, from our earliest unborn moments until natural death,”

Lozano was coming off an unsuccessful run for Santa Barbara County Superintendent against Susan Salcido.

During that campaign, Lozano won a legal challenge to keep her name off the ballot and fought criticism of her candidacy from within the school community.  

She emerged as a favorite among conservatives, who embraced her straightforward scrutiny of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s sex education curriculum.

She’s the former vice president of the PTA when her daughter, now in high school, attended La Patera School. Lozano said she wants to help Latino students increase their test scores.

She has a degree in kinesiology and has taught physical education for decades. 

Lozano taught at McKinley Elementary School before it transitioned into a dual language immersion program. Most recently, she taught at Dos Pueblos High School, but took a leave of absence to run for the superintendent’s seat. She said she now teaches at a local private school.

Haley grew up in Goleta and says the “R” next to his name is just a letter. He’s not partisan, and he’s really about serving the community.

He is the owner of B2 Designs, a graphic design and T-shirt printing company, 

He has volunteered for AYSO, Dos Pueblos Little League, the Goleta Valley Girls Softball Association, the Boys & Girls Club and several other organizations.

He was also a regular in the classroom and as a sports referee, when needed. He’s also a frequent attendee of school board meetings.

After polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the County Elections Office released results for all the ballots that had already been received and counted. A semi-official tally was posted late Tuesday night. 

Results will be updated again on Nov. 15, which is the deadline for vote-by-mail ballots to be delivered to the County Elections Office as long as the ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day. 

The Santa Barbara County Elections Office will certify the Nov. 8 election results by Dec. 8.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.