OAKLAND -- Results posted Wednesday morning showed two of three incumbent candidates for Oakland school board -- Jody London and Jumoke Hinton Hodge -- appear to have won their bids for re-election. A third incumbent, Alice Spearman was apparently edged out.

The Alameda County Registrar's Office said Wednesday morning that it was still counting late mail-in ballots that aren't reflected in the totals.

This year's school board elections have involved vigorous campaigning and far more money than usual -- and, unlike recent election years, all four races were contested.

London, an OUSD parent and environmental consultant, handily secured a second term in District 1 (North Oakland). Her challenger, Thearse Pecot, is an OUSD grandmother who said she became motivated to run for office after the board voted in October 2011 to close five elementary schools: Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe.

In the three-candidate District 3 (West Oakland-Adams Point) race, incumbent Hinton Hodge beat out two challengers: Richard Fuentes, an aide to City Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente, and Ben Lang, a retired Orinda school district administrator.

In the only open race, in District 5 (Fruitvale), attorney and OUSD parent Rosie Torres bested her opponent, Mike Hutchinson. Torres replaces Noel Gallo, who represented the district for 20 years.


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In District 7, challenger James Harris appears to have bested Spearman in a race that was especially contentious. Earlier this year, Spearman tried to persuade the courts to remove Harris from the ballot, contending that he lives in an Oakland neighborhood that is part of the San Leandro school district -- and is therefore ineligible to run for Oakland school board. Spearman dropped her pre-election complaint, but her attorney said she might take her opponent to court after the election if he wins. Harris has said such a move is divisive and distracting from the issues facing the district. Spearman has served on the board since 2005.

New political action committees have played a major role in this election. Six of the nine school board candidates were endorsed by one of two PACs created this year by the Oakland teachers union and the Great Oakland Public Schools coalition. There was no overlap in the two committees' school board endorsements.

GO Public Schools, a group of parents, teachers and community members that formed in 2008, is more charter school-friendly than the union's leaders, and it has promoted changes to traditional union staffing rules, which the union has opposed. The GO Public Schools PAC has received three large donations of $49,000 or more, including -- most recently -- the California Charter Schools Association, bringing its fundraising total to nearly $185,000.

The group threw its weight behind Hinton Hodge, Torres and Harris, mostly through independent expenditures and the organizing of volunteers. By contrast, the Oakland teachers union PAC, which is backing Pecot, Fuentes and Hutchinson, expected to raise about $20,000.

Read Katy Murphy's Oakland schools blog at www.IBAbuzz.com/education. Follow her at Twitter.com/katymurphy.