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Los Altos Elections 2014 – high school, water, hospital

Fiona Walter, Debbie Torok, David Reeder, Peter Fung, Brian Schmidt
Written by lalahpolitico

Lalahpolitico suggests Walter and Torok for MVLA High board, Schmidt for the water district, Reeder and Fung for  the hospital district. See the reasons why…

MVLA High School District – VOTE FOR Walter, Torok

VOTE FOR Fiona Walter for MVLA High board

VOTE FOR Fiona Walter for MVLA High board

Lalahpolitico will vote for two candidates – Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok.  There are three seats open. Seven candidates are vying for the three seats of the 5 person board, which suggests to many observers that all is not joy and delight over at the MVLA High School District.  This is only the second contested election since the 1990’s. [Most incoming school board members were actually appointed by the current board.!]

I saw Fiona Walter speak at the Los Altos Women’s Caucus.  What impressed me is that she intends to send a quarterly newsletter that looks forward at “issues and concerns” that the board will be discussing and voting on.  She said that right now all that parents get is a sanitized newsletter of recent backward-looking “good news.”  Also she agree with moms who spoke up at the caucus who said the AP program is wonderful but that instruction for the “middle” student is not challenging enough.  Advanced Placement is TOO hard, regular classes are TOO easy.

Debbie Torok is an incumbent, but she did NOT get the union endorsement, so that’s a big plus for Lalahpolitico, but did get two positive community endorsements.



It is instructive to review Los Altos Elections 2014 endorsements for the MVLA High School Board race. Lalahpolitico considered mainly four sources to make a Lalahpolitico assessment.  Unions, Mountain View Voice, Friends of Los Altos, and Los Altos Town Crier.

Debbie Torok and Fiona Walter are the best. Consider casting only two votes.

Debbie Torok and Fiona Walter are the best. Consider casting only two votes.










 …incumbents Debbie Torok and Joe Mitchner deserve to be returned to the board for another term. With several strong contenders for the third seat, we support Fiona Walter.

VOTE FOR Debbie Torok for MVLA High board

VOTE FOR Debbie Torok for MVLA High board

Fiona Walter YES

“Fiona Walter knows what serving on a school board is all about, having spent eight years on the Mountain View Whisman board. Before that, she volunteered extensively, including service on three executive boards for parcel tax campaigns and on the elementary school district’s Budget Task Force. [She said to the voice,] “Not every student wants to take AP classes and those motivated to do so can become overwhelmed when every class they take is an AP course,” she said. “I want to be sure that we are not eliminating strong core offerings.”

Debbie Torok YES

“Torok … volunteered in the schools before joining the board four years ago; among other roles, she was a board member of the MVLA Scholars and the Los Altos Education Foundation, and was co-chair of two parcel tax campaigns in the Los Altos School District.She supports granting waivers to ninth-graders who participate in athletic programs and want to opt out of PE…If re-elected, she said her priorities would include ensuring that every student “is equipped with the same tools for enhanced learning at school and home,” and overseeing a balanced budget.”

Joe Mitchner

“A seven-year member of the board, Mitchner had been an active volunteer in the district and its schools before taking on the board role, including service with the PTA, school site council and the education foundation. His community experience includes coaching youth baseball and soccer, and serving on the board of Friends of Stevens Creek Trail.”

“A financial manager by profession…If re-elected, he said, his top priorities would include improving academic achievement at all levels; ensuring that financial plans are “responsible, sustainable, and aligned with district goals;” increasing support programs and outreach to under-represented students and families; and continuing to be open to innovative approaches to enhancing student learning.”





The current board of trustees, some observers claim, is passive and unanimously approves whatever Superintendent Barry Groves puts in front of them. Board critics say trustees rarely introduce their own items for consideration, rarely engage in lengthy discussion about items and ask few questions.

“Fiona Walter won’t need a learning curve – she previously served eight years on the Mountain View-Whisman School District board. An aeronautics engineer and musician…”

“Although Debbie Torok served on the board the past four years, we see Torok as part of the solution…”

“Sanjay Dave, also an engineer, has worked directly with students, starting a school chess club and teaching advanced math…”


Debbie Torok and Fiona Walter are the best. Consider casting only two votes.

Debbie Torok and Fiona Walter are the best. Consider casting only two votes.

Excerpts from Friends of Los Altos endorsement

“Fiona Walter is a Mountain View resident and former President of the Mountain View Whisman School District Board of Trustees seeking her first term on the MVLA Board. The FOLA Board shares Walter’s belief that having parents of current students like herself on the MVLA Board provides invaluable perspective, and believes that her prior [MV-Whisman] experience … will shorten her learning curve as a newly-elected MVLA trustee.”

“Debbie Torok is a City of Los Altos resident running for re-election to her second term on the Board, having run in an uncontested election four years ago.   During the majority of her time on the MVLA Board, Torok had three children attend MVLA schools; the youngest is now in college. With her technology background, she is well suited to provide the necessary oversight in the direction MVLA is heading with regard to technology upgrades, tools and advances.”

“Joe Mitchner is a Mountain View resident who was first appointed to the MVLA Board seven years ago and is running for re-election.   He is the only current Board member whose children are attending MVLA schools. With his seven years of active MVLA Board experience, Mitchner has gained familiarity with all of the District’s programs, schools, and financials, as well as developed productive working relationships with Board members, parents, teachers, staff, and community members. This experience has enabled him to meaningfully contribute towards Board discussions, as well as to effectively suggest and/or advocate for new initiatives.”


Excerpts from the MV Voice Article about the
Union Endorsement- Mitchner, Bunnet, Dave


 In only the second contested election since the 1990s, seven candidates for the Mountain View-Los Altos School District board made their pitches to district teachers Tuesday.

“…some candidates challenged the board for being too passive and came out in favor of a more active, hands-on approach to district governance.

By the end of forum, after some discussion among attendees, representatives from the District Teachers Association voted to endorse

Joe Mitchener,

Dana Bunnett and

Sanjay Dave”

The AFL CIO endorsed Dana Bunnet



MORE: Need still more info about the MVLA High board race? Try Voter’s Edge. 



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Santa Clara Valley Water District – VOTE FOR Brian Schmidt

VOTE FOR Brian Schmidt for Santa Clara Valley Water District Board

VOTE FOR Brian Schmidt for Santa Clara Valley Water District board

You vote should go to incumbent Brian Schmidt.  He’s a Stanford law graduate, an expert in California Water law.  He’s endorsed by the Sierra Club and Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters. In addition, Schmidt has been endorsed by the Mercury News, the Mountain View Voice  and the Palo Alto Weekly.  See links at www.brianforwater.org.  I’ve met the man briefly at League of Women Voters events and election coffees and he seems upstanding.

His opponent  – Gary Kremen –  is AFL-CIO South Bay union endorsed. His minions have been wantonly placing unsolicited Kremen election lawn signs on people’s frontage. They placed one at the corner of my corner. Of course I ripped it out immediately.



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El Camino Hospital District – VOTE FOR Reeder, Fung

 Lalahpolitico is voting for Dave Reeder and Peter Fung.  Two Seats are open.  David Reeder is the incumbent and a home-town Los Altos guy! Yes Mr. Reeder is the spouse of  the cherished Vicki Reeder of the Los Altos Stage Company (formerly Bus Barn Theater.) The Town Crier said nay to Abe-Koge because she has higher political aspirations and might not stay for the full term. The Mountain View Voice said nay to Dr Fung because as a contractor – stroke clinic physician – to the hospital, he may have to recuse himself too often.  So Lalahpolitico says VOTE for DAVID REEDER.  Also VOTE for DR. FUNG,  in part to keep professional politician Abe-Koga off the board.

 EXCERPTS FROM THE Mountain View Voice



VOTE FOR Dave Reeder for  El Camino Hospital District

VOTE FOR Dave Reeder for El Camino Hospital District

David Reeder

“YES. Now finishing his 16th year on the board, Reeder wants to continue his work, saying he’s “uniquely situated” to help implement the district’s recently approved strategic plan. Helping to create a better “continuum” of care, in which El Camino Hospital patients would have better medical oversight before and after their hospital stay, including when they’re transferred to a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center, is one of his highest priorities, he said…”

Margaret Abe-Koga

“YES. Abe-Koga is a member of that state agency, known as LAFCo, that criticized the health care district for a lack of transparency and accountability, so she’s up to speed on some of the issues involving the district’s governance. And with her experience on the City Council and other public boards, she knows a thing or two about effective governance.Among her goals are improving accessibility and affordability of care for residents of the district…”

Dr. Peter Fung

“The director of the stroke program at El Camino Hospital, Fung has many good ideas for achieving his goals. But members of the district board do double-duty as members of the El Camino Hospital board of directors, and because Fung works as an independent contractor for the hospital as the director of its stroke program, the question arises over whether he would have to recuse himself from certain decisions because of conflict of interest rules. Hospital officials would not provide clarity on the question.”


EXCERPTS FROM LATC Yes David Reeder, Yes Dr. Peter Fung


VOTE FOR Peter Fung for El Camino Hospital District

VOTE FOR Peter Fung for El Camino Hospital District

“YES DAVID REEDER. A competitive election is always a good thing. It generates candidate discussion and draws public attention to issues that could otherwise go unnoticed. The bad news with El Camino is that there is only one clearly qualified candidate – incumbent David Reeder. The other seat will be filled either by challenger Dr. Peter Fung or by former Mountain View Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. Dr. Fung gets our nod here based on his medical knowledge and commitment. He said he would cede his leadership of the hospital’s stroke center to serve on the board.”

“YES DR. FUNG. Re Dr. Fung…we’re not convinced he knows enough about district governance. Still, we would give a slight edge to Dr. Fung in filling the second seat.”

“Abe-Koga was not emphatic in her intention to serve the entire four-year term. Leaving that door open closed off our possible endorsement.”

[Lalahpolitico: Abe Koga has served terms on Mountain View City Council and seems to aspire to higher office] [hr]


El Camino Hospital has a collective bargaining agreement for registered nurses with Professional Resources for Nurses (PRN). They made no endorsements.  However SEIU local 521 (Service Employee International Union) and the AFL-CIO South Bay support Abe-Koga, as do several other unions.


El Camino Healthcare District
Endorse Margaret Abe-Koga


El Camino Healthcare District

Margaret Abe-Koga
Sole Endorsement


Need more ECH info? Try Voter’s Edge.com to see even more union endorsements for Abe-Koga, professional politician.


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Resources: Candidate Profiles and Interviews


About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.

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