Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr. is ahead of former assemblyman Joe Coto in early election results for , which includes Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga and parts of San Jose.
With 111 of 467 precints reporting, Beall had received 33,644 votes, or 54.56 percent compared to Coto's 28,017 votes, or 45.44 percent.
Coto, 72, says that Election Day has been a busy one and all the campaign stomping has been worth it as he considers himself the best candidate for the job.
The longtime superintendent of San Jose's East Side Union High School District says that for the communities included in the newly drawn Senate District 15, education is a high priority and with his experience and skill set, he's a good match to the position.
"During the 18 years I was a superintendent of schools, we were required by state law to have a balanced budget," Coto says. "I was always able to achieve a balanced budget and I think we can do that at a state level, while at the same time investing in our future."
Coto says that making sure public schools do a more "effective job" in preparing local students to compete in a global economy is a priority for him.
"I'm very effective in working with the Legislature," he says. "The only way we are going to find solutions is to work with all members of the Legislature, working across the isles and collaborating."
Not too far from Coto's San Jose headquarters, incumbent Beall is with his team at his Campbell headquarters on Election Night.
"It’s a great day for voting," Beall says. "It's really intense. Everybody is waiting."
Beall says that there are two reasons he is fit for Senate District 15.
"There’s a personal reason and policy," he says.
His personal connection to the district's communities is rooted in his grandparents Edwin and Grace Beall who moved to the Town of Los Gatos in the 1930s.
“When my grandfather got out of the U.S. Army, he was actually on the board of directors of Lexington School, in the middle of now Lexington Reservoir,” Beall says. “I want to help our school in Los Gatos ... and try to get help for them.”
The assemblyman was referring to the school's woes in the past few months with the threat of closure by the Los Gatos Union School District due to seismic concerns. The LGUSD Board of Education rescinded its April decision to close the campus and continues to explore whether the site is feasible to rebuild a new campus.
His father, Jim Beall, attended Lexington School and graduated from Los Gatos High School in 1941. His parents met while at San Jose State University and raised their brood of 10 children in San Jose. Beall returned to the Town of Los Gatos as an urban planner.
"I’m a person that lived in the area my entire life," he says. "Listening to people is one of my biggest skill sets ... That’s why all those people support me."
As far as policy, Beall says that he has specific things he wants to do.
"It’s a battle. You can’t just talk about education. These costs have to be controlled," he says. "I’m a strategist. I look at a strategy for education, strategy for creating jobs and how to handle public safety and keep our prison cost down.
"Everything that goes into the prisons is taken away from the education," he says. "So unless we solve our public safety, we will lose in terms of higher education. It's like robbing our children of our future."