WATSONVILLE—Oscar Soto has won the Trustee Area 3 seat on the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, beating Amanda Hernandez by 51 votes, according to results from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, neither of which have been certified.
Soto said he was cautiously optimistic about his win.
“It’s been a heck of an experience,” he said of the election. “I never thought that a little farm kid from Salinas would be able to do something like this.”
Soto, 49, worked for five years in the PVUSD Maintenance Department before moving to the Santa Cruz Public Works Department.
As a trustee, Soto will be faced with making decisions in a nation wracked by the Covid-19 crisis, which has forced students to learn remotely, and which has upended the financial picture for businesses and institutions across the U.S.
He says he was inspired to run by his children’s educational experiences, and by the aging buildings he saw while working in the district.
Soto also said he hopes to bolster academics and improve student test scores.
He is bilingual, and says he is familiar with the issues facing the families in Area 3—which includes Pajaro—where many families are low-income, immigrants and agriculture workers.
As a trustee, he said he wants to help connect the community with district governance, and says he hopes to avoid layoffs in favor of furloughs when making budget decisions.
Soto also says he would work to assure that teachers and staff are paid competitive salaries, build up the district’s music and art programs, support sports and after-school programs and demand fiscal transparency from district administration.