Editorial: Cornes, Mark and Ortiz for MVLA Board


Courtsey Naina Srivastava

Five out of the six Board candidates are pictured during the Board candidate forum. The Talon endorses Thida Cornes, Eric Mark and Esmeralda Ortiz fot the three open Board slots.

As the Mountain View–Los Altos school community is recovering from the impacts of remote learning, students face a legion of struggles ranging from mental health to academic pressures. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for the school Board to have varied perspectives to account for the needs of our diverse student population.

Six candidates are running for three open school Board positions. The Talon endorses Thida Cornes, Eric Mark and Esmerelda Ortiz.


The Talon chose to endorse Thida Cornes because of the values she holds and the unique perspective she brings on prevalent issues that the MVLA community is facing. If elected, Thida Cornes plans to push for her top three priorities: student health and wellness, equitable access to academic success and greater fiscal transparency from the District.

Cornes is a disabled, mixed-race immigrant and mother of two. She served as vice chairperson of Mountain View’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force and on various Mountain View-Whisman School District committees.

Cornes believes in taking a more awareness-based approach by establishing wellness centers in MVLA schools, equipping teachers with the tools and training to spot mental health issues in their classrooms. It’s of great importance to Cornes to lessen the achievement gap for all underrepresented groups, such as by reducing class sizes. Having a disability herself, Cornes promises to look out for and advocate for special education students and aims to involve more parents and ensure that all students know about available programs.

Fiscal responsibility and transparency are key to Cornes, who cites her masters in business administration from University of California, Berkeley and experience in a high-tech company as reasons why she’s equipped to manage the budget while fostering greater communication with the MVLA community.

She is endorsed by congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Senator Josh Becker and many other current and former elected officials and community members.

If Cornes is elected to the MVLA School Board, her goals regarding student wellness, addressing the needs of all students and fiscal transparency will help the greater MVLA community at large.


Eric Mark is campaigning on a platform for mental health, educational diversity and multiculturalism. As a father of three MVLA students and an avid volunteer for our school district, he believes he can address and prioritize issues within our community.

Mark hopes to address the Bay Area’s culture of stress and competition at all levels. By focusing on these aspects of student life, he aims to introduce and support policies that reduce stress and connect students with mental health resources, which would positively impact the well-being of our student body. As a Board member, he also hopes to introduce diversity within the courses offered at MVLA, especially centered around complex subjects such as Ethnic Studies.

In addition, Mark has contributed to our community as a tutor for Graham and Crittenden Middle Schools, an AVID tutor at Mountain View High School and a teacher at StreetCode Academy, a nonprofit organization focusing on benefiting underserved students. He is endorsed by the Los Altos Town Crier, current board members Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok, Mountain View City Council members Margaret Abe-Koga and Pat Showalter and Los Altos City Council member Neysa Fligor.

If elected to the school board, Mark’s emphasis on mental health, course variety and cultural diversity will further support not only students’ academic success but also their personal well-being.


Esmeralda Ortiz, Vice President of the High School & Post-Secondary Success Programs at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, brings a unique perspective and experience to some of the most significant issues facing MVLA schools.

In her work at the Boys and Girls club, Ortiz worked with the Club’s college and career program at local high schools and community colleges to help students across the Bay Area achieve a post-secondary education. Ortiz is a first-generation college graduate and is currently studying the college process for first-generation Latinx students for her doctoral thesis at University of California, Davis. Because of this deep personal and research experience, Ortiz has unique insight into closing the achievement gap at MVLA and helping all students succeed after high school, especially Latinx students.

In addition, Ortiz’s other priorities and experiences make her a great candidate. We like her focus on equal access to mental health services and strengthening communication with families — including a focus on the transition from middle to high school. In addition, she is endorsed by the likes of the Los Altos Town Crier, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, the District Teachers’ Association and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Overall, Ortiz is a highly qualified candidate that would bring unique and extensive knowledge to the Board of Trustees. From her work closing the opportunity gap to her experience helping the community, we believe she would be a great pick for MVLA.