"I voted" stickers
Early results showed close races for the Oakland Unified School District board. Credit: Amir Aziz

Editor’s note: This story was updated with the latest results at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 10. See results for other Oakland races here.

Three seats were up for election on the Oakland Unified School District board this year, in districts 2, 4, and 6. Each race featured three candidates, a field that included parents, former teachers, and activists. 

As of Thursday morning, none of the contests had been decided, with thousands of ballots still left to be counted. The Alameda County registrar is expected to release its next batch of votes on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. and we’ll be publishing the results here

We’ve been speaking with many of the school board candidates since early returns began trickling in on Tuesday night, to get their reactions to the early results. Here’s where things currently stand in each race:

District 2

Max Orozco, an OUSD parent, David Kakishiba, a former OUSD director and nonprofit executive, and Jennifer Brouhard, a retired teacher, ran in District 2. 

As of Thursday evening, Brouhard led with 2,749 first-choice votes. Kakishiba was second with 1,890 and Orozco had received about 683. If turnout is similar to 2018, the most recent District 2 election, there could be thousands more votes to count. That year, nearly 17,000 votes were cast in the District 2 school board race.

Orozco and Brouhard campaigned jointly as the two candidates supported by the Oakland Education Association teachers’ union. 

Orozco was a prominent opponent of school closures, and was also injured in a clash with OUSD security in August at Parker Elementary, where activists had been occupying the school to keep it from closing. 

Brouhard taught in OUSD for 27 years before retiring this year. She most recently taught at La Escuelita’s middle school, which has since closed. Rescinding school closures were also a part of her platform. 

During a celebration Tuesday night, both looked to the future and reflected on the campaigns they ran.

“The fight doesn’t stop today. Whatever the outcome is, we have to keep on fighting for the teachers and for the education of our children,” said Orozco, whose daughter attends La Escuelita, which had its middle school closed this year as part of OUSD’s school closure plan. “We have to get ready now. Cause we’ve got another election coming in two years. We have a year and a half to prepare and start getting people involved again in this upcoming election.”

“For Max and I to come together and campaign together really showed what elections and democracy looks like. I think we ran a campaign that really spoke to the needs of our students and teachers,” Brouhard said Tuesday night. “Whatever happens in this election, there’s a really progressive movement forward in our district. And I think that doesn’t stop at the schools.”

Kakishiba, who served on the OUSD board from 2005 to 2013, told The Oaklandside on Wednesday afternoon that he felt the results were trending towards Brouhard as the winner.

“Statistically, I don’t see a pathway for me to win. The margin between myself and Jennifer Brouhard is quite significant and I don’t think I’ll be on pace to overcome that gap,” he said. “Congratulations to her.” 

Kakishiba expressed concern about Oakland having a less-experienced school board next year and beyond. 

“The learning curve is going to be really steep and crises will come faster than the timeline for people to really understand how things work and how you can influence them,” he added. “The issues of getting young people to read, getting them graduated, keeping them safe and supported are all real issues. They’re not slogans.”

District 4

The competition to represent much of the Oakland Hills involved former teacher Nick Resnick, and OUSD parent and nonprofit executive Pecolia Manigo, and current school board director Mike Hutchinson. 

On Thursday evening, results showed Resnick leading with 4,452 first-choice votes, Hutchinson second with 3,585, and Manigo third with 2,761 votes so far. 

If this year’s voter turnout is similar to what it was in 2018, then it’s likely that a majority of votes for this race have yet to be counted. That year, 24,620 total votes were cast for school board candidates in District 4. 

Resnick, the chief executive officer of Inquiry By Design, an organization that designs school curricula, said a highlight of the campaign has been to meet with thousands of parents, community members, and residents of District 4 about their experiences with Oakland schools. 

“When I hear people talk about some of the challenges they’ve experienced and their desire for a leader that can really move the conversation forward, that feels really promising to me,” Resnick said. “They understand we do need a different type of leadership, an inclusive and collaborative leader, and I feel like I can help support that. 

The District 4 and District 6 races attracted a new independent expenditure committee this year calling itself “Oakland Teachers Supporting Resnick and Mungia for School Board 2022.” It’s not clear what Oakland teachers are associated with the group, but the committee spent $73,200 promoting Resnick. A former OUSD teacher, Resnick said he didn’t know much about the group (candidates are prohibited from collaborating with independent expenditure committees) and was uncomfortable with the name.

“I do have a number of Oakland Unified teachers who have supported me, as I think all three candidates do,” Resnick told The Oaklandside at his Tuesday night election party. “I believe we all have teachers who endorse us, I believe we all have labor who endorses us, and I think that’s really respectable for all the candidates. It’s not always like that.”

Hutchinson, who currently represents District 5 on the school board, decided to run for the District 4 seat this year because he felt that each district should be represented by someone who lives there. Earlier this year, Oakland’s redistricting commission adjusted the boundaries of the city’s seven districts, which led to Hutchinson’s address ending up in District 4. 

If Hutchinson wins, he’ll leave his District 5 seat and the board could appoint someone to replace him there. If he loses, he’ll stay in his District 5 seat. While the results are too incomplete for Hutchinson to draw a conclusion in his race, he said across the board it’s clear what message voters are sending.

“If you look at all nine school board candidates across Oakland and what their positions were on school closures, particularly on rescinding school closures, roughly two-thirds of the votes for school board citywide went to candidates who were against school closures and wanting to rescind school closures. I think that’s a fairly clear referendum,” Hutchinson said. 

This was the fourth school board campaign in the last 10 years for Hutchinson, who was first elected in 2020. One of the more enjoyable parts of this campaign, he said, was being able to interact with a larger part of his community, something he wants to see continue after the election is over.

“We need people to be more engaged with the school board and the school district all year long, not just every two or every four years,” he said. “The more people we can get engaged, the stronger we can make the district and the better our decision-making will be moving forward.”

By January, none of the school board directors who served before 2020 will be on the board. On one hand, Hutchinson feels that those leaders were forced out because of their unpopular policies, like closing schools. But it does leave the board with a lack of experience going into next year. “There are definitely going to be growing pains involved.”

Manigo, who’d received the Oakland Education Association’s endorsement, struck a celebratory tone at the OEA watch party on Tuesday night. She congratulated teachers, her supporters, and other candidates for campaigning on a message of strong community schools, transparent budgeting, and accountability. Manigo currently chairs the district’s Black Students and Families Thriving Task Force, which is responsible for implementing the Black student reparations policy that the OUSD board passed in 2021.

“We talked to a lot of voters, students, and educators in District 4, calling for transparency and responsibility within our budget system,” Manigo told The Oaklandside. “Some people for the very first time were engaged with what’s going on in our district.”

District 6

This race included Joel Velasquez, an OUSD parent, Valarie Bachelor, a labor organizer, and Kyra Mungia, who serves in Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office. 

The latest results on Thursday evening showed Bachelor leading the pack, with 2,470 votes. Mungia had received 2,203, and Velasquez had 648. In 2018, 14,274 total votes were cast for school board candidates in D6.

Bachelor and Velasquez had run in a ranked-choice alliance, asking voters to list them as the top two choices on their ballots. 

Mungia is the current District 6 representative on the board and works as the deputy director of education for Mayor Libby Schaaf, whose term is ending this year. Mungia was appointed to the District 6 seat in June to replace former director Shanthi Gonzales, who resigned in May after representing the district for 7 years. 

“It’s too early to tell, but we’re here celebrating a principled campaign focused on students,” Mungia told The Oaklandside at her election party on Tuesday night. “The young people know so clearly what they’re experiencing. It’s about centering them and lifting up their voices.”

Bachelor, an organizer with the California Federation of Teachers, said when she first got involved in education advocacy this year, she felt that the person to run in District 6 should be one of the community’s natural leaders who could be supported to run for the school board. But after joining marches against school closures and attending school board meetings, Bachelor realized that that person could be her.

“I’m not originally from Oakland, but I love this city. I want to plant roots here. I want our families to be able to plant roots here and thrive,” Bachelor said. “I know we can do that if we have a progressive school board and a progressive city hall and if we are all able to work together.”

Velasquez, a safety engineer who has been outspoken against school closures for 10 years, said the most rewarding aspect of the campaign was spreading his message to community members. That, he said, is more important than getting votes. 

“It’s about building a community and specifically advocating for public education in Oakland,” Velasquez told The Oaklandside on Wednesday. 

Ashley McBride reports on education equity for The Oaklandside. She covered the 2019 Oakland Unified School District teachers’ strike as a breaking news reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. More recently, she was an education reporter for the San Antonio Express-News where she covered several local school districts, charter schools, and the community college system. McBride earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University, has held positions at the Palm Beach Post and the Poynter Institute, and is a recent Hearst Journalism Fellow.