School district eager to escape air of scandal

Although final precinct reports weren’t available until early Wednesday morning, San Mateo’s newest high school trustees say the turnover this year began when the district first came under the county grand jury’s scrutiny.

After a rough year of criticism and scandal, the San Mateo Union High School District’s only incumbent up for re-election, Diane Vranes, narrowly lost her seat to newcomer Stephen Rogers — by fewer than 200 votes — who will join his unofficial slate partner Dave Pine on the new board in December.

“When I walked the precincts, I was surprised at how on top of the issues that people were, they knew that there were problems,” Rogers said. “Diane is a wonderful educator and has served the district for a long time, but I think she got swept up in people wanting a change.”

Pine said he saw the same factors in Rogers’ win.

“It’s very unusual for an incumbent to lose a school board race, but the district went through a very hard time, and there are a lot of reasons for that, and I think the voters wanted a change,” he said.

Vranes and Rogers traded the lead for much of the night, and for hours it seemed like Vranes would edge out her challenger. Pine won easily, leading all challengers with more than a third of the votes.

“When absentee ballots came out, I thought the election was over, and that I had gotten severely spanked,” Rogers said. “But as the night went on, I was heartened to see that I was gaining some traction, because I thought it was an impossible lead to overcome.”

jgoldman@examiner.com

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