With preliminary election night results showing that Measure M has passed, hospital officials are finding that it's a tough pill to swallow.
"Based on what we currently know, we are disappointed that Measure M passed," said Chris Ernst, spokesperson for El Camino Hospital. "However, at this point it would be too early to comment on the impact or our next steps as the vote has not yet been certified by the Registrar’s office."
While unofficial results show that the measure passed with nearly 52 percent of the vote—24,650 'yes' votes, compared to 22,833 'no' votes—there remain hundreds of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots to be counted countywide.
According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokeswoman Elma Rosas, approximately 200,000 vote-by-mail ballots and roughly 35,000 provisional ballots, still needed to be processed, county-wide. Rosas explained that "processed" meant certified and validated. It was not known what percentage of those ballots were for the hospital district.
However, "the overwhelming majority will be counted," said Rosas. She added that the Registrar has 28 days to certify the votes.
Voters in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Cupertino and Sunnyvale were able to cast a vote on Measure M.
According to election contribution filings, . The measure places a cap on executive pay at the hospital to twice that of the governor of California, which is $165,288, beginning Dec. 3, 2012. The current chief executive of El Camino Hospital earns a base salary of $695,000.
"We will continue to watch the vote as it goes through the certification process," Ernst said. "In the meantime, our hospital’s executive team remains committed and focused on providing quality care to our patients."
Incumbent John Zoglin, re-elected for another term to the hospital's board of directors, expressed dissatisfaction with the current outcome.
"Since we took a formal position against Measure M, I was certainly disappointed it passed," Zoglin said. "As the ballot statement submitted by the Registrar suggested, we do not know if Measure M is legal."
In regard to the new slate of hospital board members he expressed his excitement to work with Julia Miller and Dennis Chiu. But felt "bittersweet" at losing Wesley Alles, who sat on the board for 10 years.
"I am looking forward to working with the executive team and our care givers as they continue to provide award winning quality of care to patients and our community while navigating through the rapidly changing healthcare."
Newly elected candidate Miller shared that it might be difficult for the board to do certain things due to Measure M, but accepted the outcome of the democratic process.
"A lot money was spent to defeat Measure M, but the public has spoken," said Miller. "It doesn't matter what I think."
Miller said she looked forward to serving the public.
"I'm surprised with my win because I was certain Bill James would win and usually the incumbents have an edge," she said. "I'm delighted the public has chosen me to continue my public service."
Patch reached out the SEIU-UHW, the employee union that helped put the measure on the ballot, for comment. They did not respond by time of publication.