This story was last updated at 9:27 a.m.
Incumbent Laura Capps was in first place among Santa Barbara Unified school board candidates in election results Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Capps had 27.1% of the vote in unofficial election results, followed by Wendy Sims-Moten with 20.9% and newcomer Virginia Alvarez with 18.6%.
It appears as though incumbent Jacqueline Reid has been ousted from the board.
“I am heartened by the support,” Capps told Noozhawk. “Our local public schools are facing the most monumental challenges in perhaps a century and as an alumni and mom, I’m grateful for the privilege of guiding them forward, as we bring students, teachers and staff back to the classroom safely.
“My job is to listen to everyone and be the community voice in our schools, with a strong commitment to equity, transparency and accountability. That is my charge and I’ll contine to give it my all.
The other star of the night was Alvarez, who was 7,000 votes ahead of incumbent Reid.
“I am extremely grateful to all my supporters,” Alvarez said. “I am really proud of my campaign. We ran a very positive campaign. I am super proud of that . We kept focus on what really matters. It is really about the students. That is what it is all about. I can’t wait to get to work.”
Alvarez heaped praise on her campaign manager, Wade Cowper, who also ran the campaign of school board member Kate Ford.
Alvarez told Noozhawk she worked up until the last-minute, doing literature drops.
Second-place finisher Wendy Sims-Moten said: “I am excited by the opportunity to build upon the successes of the past years and continue to serve our students and community as we work to overcome critical challenges; including safely re-opening schools, bringing equity for all students and ensuring that all of our young people have the tools and opportunities for life-long success.”
The Santa Barbara County Elections Office released the first reporting of unofficial results at 8:30 p.m., which included mail-in ballots received before Tuesday.
The other candidates were Elrawd MacLearn, Brian Campbell, Monie de Wit, and Sebastian Antonio Fernandez-Falcon.
Laura Capps 27.1% Wendy Sims-Moten 20.9% Virginia Alvarez 18.6.% Jacqueline Reid 13.8.% Brian Campbell 7.2% Elrawd MacLearn 6.3% Monie DeWit 4.3% Sebastian Fernandez-Falcon 1.4%
Four years ago, the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education election was a snoozer. Three people ran for three open seats in an uncontested election.
This year, those three women — Laura Capps, Jacqueline Reid and Wendy Sims-Moten — campaigned for re-election on a contested ballot with Virginia Alvarez, Elrawd MacLearn, Brian Campbell, Monie de Wit and Sebastian Antonio Fernandez-Falcon.
The 13,000-student Santa Barbara Unified School District is dealing with the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the transition to remote learning for students.
Even before the pandemic, the district was grappling with a persistent achievement gap between Latino students and white students, budget cuts, and issues such as cultural proficiency and implicit bias training.
The past few years have also seen high-profile personnel controversies including the messy change in leadership at San Marcos High School, the board’s decision to remove Santa Barbara High’s MAD Academy director, and pushback against former district superintendent Cary Matsuoka, who abruptly announced his retirement last October.
Unofficial election results are still developing and are likely to change as more ballots are received and processed on Tuesday night and the days afterward.
Ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can arrive at the Santa Barbara County Elections Office by Nov. 20 and be counted.
County election results are typically finalized and certified several weeks after an election. The Board of Supervisors certified the March 3 election results on April 21, seven weeks later.