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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

Berryessa Union School DistrictCandidate for Board Member

Photo of David Cohen

David Cohen

Governing Board Member, Berryessa Union School District
13,440 votes (30.77%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Rigorous curriculum
  • Students' social and emotional well-being
  • Variety of programs including music, art, language, and technology



I have lived in the Berryessa area of San Jose for over 20 years and have taken a strong interest in our community. I served as a member of the San Jose Library Commission for 5 years. As vice-chair of the commission, I led the Benefit Assessment District oversight committee, which ensures that parcel tax money is being used properly - to buy books, computer equipment, and support staff at our wonderful city library system. I helped with the Measure S campaign to renew this vital funding. For two years, I had the pleasure of chairing the Library Commission, and have represented the library system at press conferences, community meetings, and on television programs.

As a member of the School Board, I have been very active in our schools. I am the only board member who has made regular visits to schools every year, including taking the time to have lunch with school staffs. I was elected twice by my fellow board members to serve as President of the board during difficult budget times. I started a blog to communicate the district's issues with the public and to solicit feedback. I meet regularly with our elected members of the California Assembly and Senate so that they know how their budgetary choices affect Berryessa. Recognizing that we couldn't rely solely on Sacramento for funding, I was the key driver in getting Measure W on the ballot in 2008. The measure was supported by over 72% of Berryessa's voters, and provides our district with $1.7 million of local funding each year. As a result, we have been able to keep our libraries open, retain middle school counselors, and keep our award-winning music program.

I believe that it is important to encourage young people to develop leadership skills and a desire to serve the community. For over a decade, I worked with a national college service organization called Alpha Phi Omega. As an advisor to the UC Berkeley chapter, I helped strengthen their program of service. As chair of the section covering Northern California and Nevada, I worked with students on a dozen campuses. I facilitated workshops on effective communication, leadership development, creativity, and conflict resolution.

My wife Shelli is a physician practicing family medicine in Fremont. We have a high school daughter who successfully attended Berryessa Schools and a 7th grade son at Sierramont Middle School. We believe that diversity is one of the great strengths of our community and are teaching our children to be multilingual. Both our children are already fluent in English and Spanish and Mia spent 4 years learning Mandarin at Berryessa Chinese School.

I am a Chemical Engineer managing the Computational Modeling Group at Lam Research, a manufacturer of semiconductor equipment. I have a PhD in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley and a BS degree from Cornell University.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Ro Khanna, US Congress
  • Kansen Chu, California State Assembly
  • Lan Diep, San Jose City Council

Organizations (6)

  • California Teachers Association
  • California School Employees Association
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte
  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • South Bay Labor Council
  • Evolve California

Elected Officials (13)

  • Ro Khanna, US Congress
  • Lan Diep, San Jose City Council
  • Kansen Chu, California Assmbly
  • Sam Liccardo, San Jose Mayor
  • Zoe Lofgren, US Congress
  • Rudy Nasol, San Jose Evergreen Community College District
  • Larry Stone, Santa Clara County Assessor
  • Richard Claspill, Berryessa School Board
  • Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor
  • Anna Song, Santa Clara County Board of Education
  • Frank Biehl, East Side Union High School Board
  • Lan Nguyen, East Side Union High School Board
  • Dave Cortese, County Supervisor

Individuals (5)

  • Linda Locke, Berryessa Education Foundation
  • Anh Le, parent PTA leader
  • Frank Cancilla, Berryessa Business Association
  • Afia Laiq, President, PTA North Valley Council
  • Chuck Reed, former San Jose Mayor

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Quality public education is the most important commitment we make to our society. Motivating our children for lifelong learning in elementary and middle school determines their success at higher levels. That is why our schools must instill in all children drive, desire, and dedication.

I am a product of public education and hold a PhD from UC Berkeley. As the father young children, I have observed how much kids love learning new things, and our system needs to harness that enthusiasm.

My goal as a member of the Board is to ensure that all Berryessa children have a broad range of opportunities and all the support that they need to be successful. During the protracted recession, budgets were cut, yet we have successfully achieved balanced services for our district's students, including music, art, counseling, libraries, and physical education.

Our district's test scores have risen significantly every year and four schools have become California Distinguished Schools during my tenure.

Our School Board must work well together and serve as a strong, independent body, asking tough questions and demanding accountability from administration. The current members of the Board have shown their faith in me by all supporting my reelection. We are now guided by a strategic plan, which in conjunction with our Local Control Accountability Plan, positions us well as a leader in 21st century learning. Strong, steady leadership is essential in order to set and follow through on the most important priorities for our children.

I am focused on keeping the district as a leader in the community, governing in an environmentally responsible way. We want to make keep students in school, continue to make progress toward reducing the achievement gap, and offer high quality services to our English language learners.

I spearheaded the expansion of local financial support for our district by leading the effort to pass Measure W, which was supported by over 72% of our community in 2008, and provides $1.7 million annually to our schools. I also led the effort to renew the support in 2012 through Measure K. In 2014, I was instrumental in leading the campaign to secure bond money for the district through Measure L.

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