San Francisco’s City College incumbents ahead in board race

Three incumbents seeking to hang on to their seats on City College of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees appeared to be leading the race on Tuesday in early returns.

Current trustees Thea Selby, John Rizzo and board president Brigitte Davila were challenged by Victor Olivieri, a current member of the San Francisco Veterans Commission who formerly served as a university administrator in Southern California.

Early results placed Selby ahead of the other candidates with 60,662 votes, or 29.6 percent of the initial votes cast. The first round of results reflects largely mail-in ballots and early voting and second count results of which came in shortly before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, showed that Selby maintained a strong lead with 29.54 percent of the votes.

A third round of results published at 10:45 p.m. showed that Davila had taken the lead in the race, with 29.82 percent of the votes. Selby ranked second with 29.37 percent and Rizzo third with 24.04 percent of the votes in the third count.

Davila and Rizzo pulled 29.34 and 23.25 percent of the initial votes, respectively. A in the second count, Davila and Rizzo pulled 29.48 percent and 23.74 percent of the votes.

While counting remains underway, the top three of the four candidates will win seats on the board, which oversees the college’s $174 million operations. A newcomer to the City College community, Olivieri pulled in 17.38 percent of the initial votes on Tuesday night.

Since pulling papers, Olivieri has enjoyed the support of high powered backers including Mayor London Breed, gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom and three current City College trustees — Vice President Alex Randolph, Shanell Williams and Tom Temprano. He also was a leading fundraiser. With $53,465 in contributions, he ranked just behind Selby, who managed to raise $56,243, according to the most recent numbers reported to the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

Olivieri has said that if elected, he would bolster vocational programs as well as the colleges reserves, into which the college has dipped every year since 2015.

“I think that there were four good candidates in this race and I think that the three incumbents, my colleagues, have all in their own ways contributed tremendously to City College righting the ship and putting us on the path of success that we are on,” said Temprano, shortly before the first round of results came in. “Victor brings a lot of new energy and good new ideas into this race and if he ends up joining me on the college board I’m confident that we will…continue to do what we have over the last two years, which is work well together and focus on our students.”

But the incumbents boasted the advantage of name recognition and a proven track record of leading the more than eight-decades-old institution. Rizzo, who has been on the board since 2007, saw the college through an accreditation crisis that resulted in uncertainty over whether its doors would remain open in 2012, and caused its enrollment to plummet by tens of thousands of students.

A freelance writer and consultant by day, Rizzo succeeded this year in implementing an on-campus smoke ban at City College, and has advocated for the development of the long-planned Performing Arts and Education Center at the Ocean Campus.

In a recent interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Rizzo indicated that he would prioritize creating housing for students and faculty. He raised $15,945 for his campaign with a total of $10,322 in spendings.

Davila, a lecturer at San Francisco State University for the past two decades, has told the San Francisco Examiner previously that she first decided to run for a seat on the board in 2014 to help steer the college out of the crisis and into more prosperous times.

She is the first Latina to head the board as its president.

But Davila came under fire earlier this month for failing to file a number of required campaign disclosure forms with the Ethics Commission for her current as well as past campaigns. Davila told the San Francisco Examiner at the time that “technical difficulties” prevented her from filing the forms on time and resulted in her failure to file some forms altogether.

According to the latest campaign finance data reported to the Ethics Commission, Davila raised $9,018 and spent $7,317 on her campaign.

Alongside Davila, Rizzo and the rest of the City College trustees, Selby has worked over the past two years to forge a partnership with The City on the admittedly bumpy road to establishing a free tuition program San Francisco residents.

The “Free City College” program is now in its third semester at state, and the newly elected board of trustees will be tasked with securing additional funding to ensure its longevity beyond the two-year pilot.

Selby, who is in marketing, served as the board’s president in 2017 and played a key role in the hiring of Chancellor Mark Rocha, who was brought on board last Fall amid initial criticism from the college’s faculty union, AFT 2121. She has also worked to address food insecurity among students across City College’s campuses.

Selby’s stated priorities are growing enrollment CCSF, expanding the Free City program, and implementing block scheduling.

After learning of the initial results, Selby, who was watching the initial results at a San Francisco Democratic Party event in the South of Market, said that it was “too early to tell” whether the CCSF board would remain in its current constellation.

“I’m super excited about the house, I’m super depressed about Beto O’Rourke because I’m from Texas, and I hope that we are able to pull this off at City College of San Francisco,” said Selby, referring to the national midterm elections. “It’s too early to say, ‘You’re winning.’”

For more Examiner election coverage go to:

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