In the on the board, two longtime local household names held off a challenge from a popular ex- teacher - though a mere 12 votes separates second and third place, a margin that could be overturned by absentee ballot counts or a request for a recount.
With all 21 precincts reporting, Leslie Wachtel, the president of the PTA at Tam High for the past three years and a leader in the Mill Valley public education scene for nearly 20 years, garnered 3,926 votes, or 41 percent.
"I’m thrilled and honored and very happy to live in a community that values education as much as Mill Valley does,” Wachtel said, whose husband is Mill Valley Mayor Ken Wachtel.
While Wachtel enjoyed a more than 10 percent margin of victory, Clifford Waldeck and Bob Jacobs were separated by a mere 12 votes with all precincts reporting, although absentee ballots have yet to be counted.
Waldeck, a Mill Valley native who served two terms on the Mill Valley City Council and has been on a wide array of boards and commissions over the years, nabbed 2,821 votes, for 29.4 percent. That was good enough for a razor-thin margin over Bob Jacobs, whose campaign leaned on the legions of students he taught in a 19-year career at the middle school. Jacobs earned 2,809 votes, or 29.3 percent.
“I can see my daughter asleep in bed right now,” Waldeck said of his first grader at . “It’s going to be a much happier morning for us to tell her that daddy’s on the school board.”
Jacobs said he was grateful for the support he’d received but was stunned at losing by just 12 votes.
“Twelve votes? That’s like a nightmare,” he said. “That’s like losing the World Series in the ninth inning of a game 7.”
Jacobs said he was interested in learning more about the process of requesting a recount. Marin County’s recount procedures (attached at right) call for a candidate to request a recount in writing within five days of the election. The request must include a deposit for the cost of the recount - $1,900 for the first day and $500 a day after that – to be refunded if the recount changes the outcome of the election.
"I'll definitely look into that," he said.
Waldeck praised both of his opponents in the race for running a good campaign and said he'd wait and see what Jacobs decided to do.
"Bob was an incredibly popular teacher and he's a really good guy," he said. "If for some reason a recount overturns it, I won’t be as bummed as Al Gore was."
Wachtel said she hoped that whomever ended up on the losing end would remain involved in the district in some capacity.
"I’d be honored to serve with either of them," she said. "I hope that whomever does not become the fifth board member stays involved and comes to the meeting. They have a lot to offer the board and the community."