Vonnegut, Ortiz, Cornes win the MVLA Board Elections


Emily McNally

Catherine Vonnegut, Thida Cornes and Esmeralda Ortiz came out ahead in the November MVLA Board Election.

Catherine Vonnegut, Esmeralda Ortiz, and Thida Cornes are projected to fill the three open seats on the Mountain View–Los Altos High School District Board. These three hope to bring their proven experience, as well as a focus on equity, mental health and closing the achievement gap, to the Board. 

In the November 2022 midterm elections, six candidates vied for three seats on the board, including Vonnegut, Ortiz, Cornes, Eric Mark, Jacquie Tanner and Carrol Titus-Zambre. Incumbent Vonnegut and newcomers Ortiz and Cornes are leading with 25.09 percent, 24.7 percent, and 17.13 percent of the votes, respectively. Mark placed fourth behind Cornes, while Titus-Zambre and Tanner were behind.

New members Ortiz and Cornes will replace current Board members Fiona Walters and Debbie Torok, who are both stepping down.


Catherine Vonnegut

With Vonnegut finishing in the clear lead, she expressed confidence for her next term as part of the Board. 

“I’m excited to work with a bunch of new people, like Esmeralda Ortiz and Thida Cornes,” Vonnegut said. 

Vonnegut’s focus has been on student mental health and post-pandemic recovery. In her previous term, she was at the forefront of a board that helped to alleviate the educational stress during COVID-19. 

“I’ve just always loved education,” Vonnegut said. “I feel like I really can make a difference in the community. We’re doing a good job and I feel like we can do even better.” 


Thida Cornes

During the election, Cornes centered her campaign on equity for students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Born with non-progressive dystonia, she aims to help students succeed, regardless of background. She also hopes to ensure fiscal responsibility and transparency towards students in her campaign and throughout her term. 

Cornes has had over 20 years of experience working in Mountain View as part of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Cornes also ran unsuccessfully for a Mountain View City Council position in 2016. Afterwards, she confessed that she thought she was done with local positions and politics. However, COVID-19 made her reconsider. 

“I saw a real need for students’ [mental health support] socially and emotionally,” Cornes said. “I would like to help destigmatize mental health for students,” 

Cornes stated that she’s glad to be joining a collaborative group of Board members during her first term, and she expressed her determination to help students get back on track after the pandemic. 

“I’m looking forward to hearing from students, and know that they’re free to contact me any time,” Cornes said. 


Esmeralda Ortiz 

Throughout her campaign, Ortiz has advocated the increase of access to diverse post-secondary pathways for all, especially Latino students. She also focuses on solidifying a successful district-wide transition from middle school to high school through deeper community outreach. 

“Education and higher access to higher education for all students has been at the forefront of my passions. It’s something personal to me, as a first gen student,” Ortiz said.

According to Ortiz, her 12 years of experience in the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula gave her the opportunity to work with students to pursue higher education. Throughout her time there, she attended multiple MVLA Board meetings, which inspired her to try to make a positive impact for students by running.

“One thing that has always stood out is how much the board impacts students, teachers, and a school’s day to day,” Ortiz said.

With her position in the Board, she hopes to close the achievement gap at MVLA regardless of background and identity. 

“I’m very excited to serve the MVLA community by learning about [student] needs and how, as a board, we can address those needs,” Ortiz said.