Frank Pugh, a longtime Santa Rosa school board member, was leading over challenger Omar Medina Tuesday night.
Pugh had 55 percent of the vote in early results, while Medina trailed behind with 45 percent.
“I’m highly optimistic, but it’s not over yet,” Pugh, 63, said as he watched results from home. “This is a different kind of election.”
It’s the first time in Sonoma County’s history that a school board holds district elections. The Santa Rosa board last year voted to move to district races amid allegations that at-large election systems disenfranchised minorities.
Pugh has served for 28 years on the board of Santa Rosa City Schools, the county’s largest district with 16,000 students. He’s a counselor and instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, and the current president of the National School Board Association.
Medina, a program coordinator for UndocuFund, supports a shared governance model, improving parent engagement and teacher recruitment, and a push toward including ethnic studies classes.
“We ran a pretty good campaign, so now it’s just seeing how the results turn out. I expected it to be close, and the night’s still young,” said Medina, 39, who watched election results at Remy’s Bar and Grill Tuesday night.
At the polls, Medina supporters said they felt the board needed diversity that better reflected the school population.
About 53 percent of the K-12 district’s students are Latino, but none of its current board members are.