Armed with red shirts, buttons and optimism, the Yes on Measure A campaigners could almost smell victory Tuesday night. And it smelled like ice cream.
The upstairs floor of was packed and loud by 8:30 p.m. as volunteers and supporters of Measure A awaited results from the polls. in. Campaign volunteers described the mood as one of "cautious optimism," but as the crowd grew, caution soon gave way.
Kevin Gorham, assistant principal at , was looking forward to success. Having worked on the campaign and watched it fail, Gorham was determined to try again. "It would have been easy to throw in the towel," said Gorham. "But if I'm going to teach government, I'm going to pratice what I preach. This is a great opportunity to teach our kids what democracy is really like."
When the "yes" votes hit 66.76 percent at 9:25 p.m., just above the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, the crowd cheered and the wine began to flow.
"It's not in the bag yet but it's looking very optimistic for us," said Michael Robles-Wong, chair of the Measure A campaign.
AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital said she was "confident" of the win, but would wait for an official announcement to celebrate. Vital became emotional as she thanked volunteers for their efforts, and praised the "extraordinary support" of the community.
"I just want to thank you," said Vital. "I know what a sacrifice this has been."
For many of the campaign volunteers, it had been a long day.
"Today was a day of being focused and making sure we got out the vote," said volunteer Claudia Page. "It's just nice to be with everybody, and see the people outside of your own neighborhood who have been working so hard."
Jen Laird, volunteer and canvassing organizer, said that hundreds of volunteers had participated in door-to-door campaigning and phone banking. "The yes campaign was so well organized, so positive and had such integrity," said Laird.
Many volunteers and supporters of the Yes on Measure A campaign are passionate and personally invested in the issue, explained Laird. Some, including her own family, would consider leaving Alameda if confronted by another parcel tax loss at the polls. The threat to the quality of the school system would be too high.
Volunteer Lori Keep took the day off work Tuesday to help canvass her neighborhood. "Today is the culmination of two months of work," said Keep. "I have a daughter and a son and they love their schools. I didn't want that to end."
Even with the passing of Measure A, cuts to the school district will still have to be made, said School Board President Ron Mooney. "We still have some tough things to work through," said Mooney, who added that the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax extensions are also vital to the health of the district.
But for now, said Vital, the new parcel tax will keep class sizes lower, fund athletics programs, prevent school closures and enable the district to retain talented teachers.
The evening began to wind down at around 10 p.m. when the percentage of yes votes rose to 67.84 percent.
Teachers like Gorham hope that the uphill battle is over. At least for a while.
"Now we can do the real work of educating our kids," said Gorham.