Finances dominate San Mateo Community College District board race

Finances dominate San Mateo Community College District board race

The hot topic in the San Mateo Community College District election is how a district that has slashed funding and lost $20 million in annual state funding will accommodate the record numbers of students trying to enroll.

As tuitions rise and more unemployed people seek job training, the district has been forced to turn students away.

Incumbent board members and their challengers both agree that course offerings need to be expanded, yet the challengers ask where officials’ priorities lie.

Click the picture for a gallery of the candidates.

On Tuesday, voters will not only chose three of six candidates to serve on the board, but also decide whether to pass the third bond measure in 10 years.

Candidate Joe Ross, who runs a nonprofit that helps kids attend college, openly supports Measure H, yet said the district has spent too much on construction and not enough on students.

“When you look at brand-new parking lots and beautiful administrative buildings, I’m not sure what the connection is to students,” Ross said.

If elected, Ross said, he would spend as much Measure H money as possible to raise the share of full-time teachers beyond 25 percent and to provide more college counseling to students.

Spending bond money on school operations is tricky, because legally, the $564 million measure can only be used for construction and infrastructure projects. Yet there are ways to use bond money for operations, said incumbent David Mandelkern.

Not only did the district pass a new parcel tax for school operations, but by investing in green building and artificial turf it was able to reduce utility expenses by 56 percent, freeing up a couple of million dollars a year for salary increases and student programs, Mandelkern said.

Mandelkern, who is running for a third term, said some Measure H money would be spent on solar panels, wind turbines and cogeneration facilities, thereby freeing up even more money for operations.

“No one’s making profits off of this,” Mandelkern said.

But candidate Michael Stogner, a self-described “voice for the taxpayers,” begs to differ.

Stogner, who opposes the measure, said the $341,000 spent promoting Measure H came mostly from builders and developers. He said a voter survey, which officials cite as proof that Measure H has widespread public support, failed to clarify how much the district actually needed.

Rather than tearing down structures that are 40 years old, Stogner said, the district should be hiring teachers and offering more classes.

Sixteen-year incumbent Karen Schwarz has mixed feelings about Measure H, but said without it, numerous renovations would have to wait or be paid for out of operational funding. She said the economy has brought on some of the worst times she’s witnessed for the district, but defended the decisions to cut programs such as horticulture, saying they were among the college’s most underused.

Incumbent Patricia Miljanich said she was unavailable due to a family emergency. Candidate Jamie Diaz could not be reached for comment.

San Mateo Community College District candidates

Dave Mandelkern

  • Occupation: Entrepreneur
  • War chest: $30,000
  • Endorsements: Rep. Jackie Speier; State Sen. Joe Simitian; State Assemblyman Jerry Hill; State Assemblyman Rich Gordon

Karen Schwarz

  • Occupation: Family-owned painting contractor business
  • War chest: $10,000
  • Endorsements: Rep. Jackie Speier; State Sen. Joe Simitian, San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier; San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom

Joe Ross

  • Occupation: Educational non-profit director
  • War chest: Unavailable
  • Endorsements:  Educate Our State Co-founder Crystal Brown; State Assemblyman Rich Gordon; County Board of Education Member Ted Lempert; San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine


Michael Stogner

  • Occupation: Victim’s advocate
  • War chest: $0
  • Endorsements: None

Candidates Jamie Diaz and Patricia Miljanich were unavailable.

Bay Area NewselectionsLocalPeninsulaSan Mateo County

 

Finances dominate San Mateo Community College District board race

Just Posted

ose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014. 
Rose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014.
Willie and Rose: An alliance for the ages

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

San Francisco supervisors are considering plans to replace trash cans — a “Renaissance” garbage can is pictured on Market Street — with pricey, unnecessary upgrades. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco must end ridiculous and expensive quest for ‘pretty’ trash cans

SF’s unique and pricey garbage bins a dream of disgraced former Public Works director

Giants right fielder Mike Yastrzemski is pictured at bat on July 29 against the Dodgers at Oracle Park; the teams are in the top spots in their league as the season closes. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
With playoff positions on the line, old rivalries get new life

Giants cruised through season, Dodgers not far behind

Golden Gate Park visitors may take a survey about options regarding private car access on John F. Kennedy Drive, which has been the subject of controversy during the pandemic.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

Host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park proposed

Drivers gathered to urge voters to reject an initiative that would exempt Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy companies from state labor laws, in San Francisco in October 2020. (Jim Wilson/New York Times)
What’s the role of unions in the 21st century?

As membership declines in California, economic inequality increases

Most Read