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Incumbents take early lead in Napa school board races

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Two incumbents in the three competitive Napa Valley Unified School District board races have taken the lead in early election results Tuesday evening.

And with no incumbent for NVUSD Area 7, Julianna Hart is leading the race to represent that area, which covers a swath of west Napa.

Additionally, Napa County Office of Education board member Ann Cash is on track to retain the Area 4 seat against challenger Bridgette Kannegiesser-Ruiz. None of the other NCOE races are competitive, and there are no competitive races for the boards of Napa Valley College or the Calistoga Joint Unified School District this election.

In NVUSD Area 1 — which covers a northern portion of the city of Napa and Yountville, as well as unincorporated areas — current board president Robin Jankiewicz took an early lead over challenger Jim Silver. Jankiewicz leads with 58% of the vote; 32% of the vote had been counted as of 8:01 p.m.

Jankiewicz, who couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, has said her first priority in leading the board is ensuring the district remains financially stable, which is largely what the board has aimed to achieve during her tenure. Her time on the board has coincided with a period of rapidly declining enrollment and, thus, attendance-based funding from the state.

Silver, alternatively, has said he feels the district’s educational offerings have degraded over time, and he wants to reverse that decline, in part by spending money on programs to improve NVUSD’s educational offerings and reputation.

Silver said Tuesday that he thought the race came down to a matter of name recognition, and he was glad for those who voted for Jankiewicz.

In NVUSD Area 6, which covers the Browns Valley area and nearby parts of Napa, incumbent Elba Gonzalez-Mares is leading district parent Summer Gilgallon in the early results. Gonzalez-Mares leads with 49.32% of the vote and 23.22% of the possible vote has been counted.

Gonzalez-Mares, who couldn't be reached Tuesday, has previously stressed the importance of fiscal responsibility as one of her main responsibilities on the board.

Gilgallon, who also couldn’t be reached, has said she wants to increase transparency at the school board level, in response to confusion and mistrust she’s seen from the community.

For NVUSD Area 7, Julianna Hart led with 55% of the vote over Patrick Mathis.

Hart, who grew up attending district schools and has children attending, has said it’s been upsetting to see programs cut and schools close. Mathis, who couldn’t be reached Tuesday, has said his focus on the board would be financial stewardship.

Hart acknowledged Tuesday that she hasn't won yet, but said the numbers are looking favorable.

"I'm looking forward to making a difference for the kids in the district," Hart said.

A look inside the Napa County election office as election officials and county employees sort, check and count ballots.

You can reach Edward Booth at 707-256-2213 and ebooth@napanews.com.

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