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Hintzke secures final Pleasanton school board seat

Incumbent's victory confirmed with all ballots counted

With all votes counted, two-term incumbent Jamie Hintzke has solidified her re-election to the Pleasanton school board with a 144-vote victory over challenger Kathleen Ruegsegger for the final board seat, according to the final election update released by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office.

Hintzke, the current board president, maintained a narrow lead over Ruegsegger that was established with the office's first post-election results update Nov. 11. Challenger Steve Maher and incumbent Valerie Arkin had finished comfortably ahead in first- and second-place, respectively, in the three-seat election.

The race between Hintzke and Ruegsegger went back and forth as votes were counted and released on Nov. 8, and Ruegsegger actually held a 26-vote lead at the end of Election Night before being passed by Hintzke as county election officials continued tallying pending ballots.

The unofficial final results released by the registrar's office Friday show Ruegsegger did edge closer to Hintzke, as Hintzke held a 209-vote lead when the Registrar of Voters' Office updated numbers Nov. 14. Though all ballots are now counted, the totals are considered unofficial until confirmed by county officials and certified by California's secretary of state.

The final 144-vote margin wasn't enough to convince Ruegsegger, a retired executive assistant to Pleasanton and Palo Alto school superintendents and former Pleasanton school board member (1990-93), to request a recount. Any registered voter can request a recount, but they are required to cover the costs of the recount unless it reverses the results of that race, according to state law. There is no provision in California law that mandates an automatic recount in any election contest.

Ruegsegger explained that recount process in an email to supporters this week announcing her concession.

"(The recount) could cost more than the election did, and I have a better idea of where to spend money for the benefit of PUSD and the community," Ruegsegger said. "And so, instead, I am taking a step back today and thanking a friend who pointed out to me that if I won, that would be great; and if I didn't win, I still had a good life."

Ruegsegger went on to say that she will remain involved with Pleasanton Unified School District and called Hintzke, Arkin and Maher "excellent choices."

Hintzke, who works as a community relations coordinator and youth CPR program manager for Alameda County, said in an email Wednesday that she wishes Ruegsegger the best and wants her to stay involved.

"She is very knowledgeable and has the best interest of the community in her heart," Hintzke said.

Hintzke added that with the $270 million school facilities bond measure also being passed this month, one of her priorities will be to ensure funds are being used appropriately "and in the best interests of our students."

She will rejoin fellow two-term incumbent Arkin and new member Maher on the board.

Maher, a retired principal in the district, led the way in the four-candidate race, sitting in first place by nearly 10,000 votes, according to the final election results posted by the county Friday. He effectively takes over the school board seat that opened up when incumbent Chris Grant decided not to run for re-election.

Incumbent Arkin, who is not currently employed, finished comfortably in second place with a nearly 2,700-vote lead.

Alameda County has until Dec. 8 to certify its election results, per California law. As part of that process, the registrar's office had its 1% manual tally Monday, a procedure mandated by state law to verify vote totals.

The Pleasanton school board will next meet Dec. 13, when re-elected and new members are slated to be sworn in and a new board president will be picked for the upcoming year.

Final unofficial election results stood at:

* Steve Maher, 24,668 total votes, or 38.63% of the total number of votes cast in the school board election.

* Valerie Arkin, 14,736 votes, or 23.26%.

* Jamie Hintzke, 12,071 votes, or 19.06%.

* Kathleen Ruegsegger, 11,927 votes, or 18.83%.

There were 143 write-in votes on the ballots cast.

Unofficial final results for Measure I1, the $270 million school facilities bond measure, show it passed with a 69.1% yes vote, well above the 55% threshold required.

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