Community college district: Mandelkern, Schwarz, Goodman elected


Incumbents Dave Mandelkern and Karen Schwarz and challenger Maurice D. Goodman were elected Tuesday to the board of the San Mateo County Community College District.

Mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day and in the mail have yet to be counted. The ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 to be counted.

A total of seven candidates ran for four-year terms on the five-member board.

The county's three community colleges – Canada College in Woodside, Skyline College in San Bruno, and the College of San Mateo in San Mateo – enrolled about 25,000 students for the 2014-15 school year, according to state Department of Education records.

The candidates are Mark J. De Paula, a retired businessman; Ramiro Maldonaldo, a nonprofit director; incumbent Dave Mandelkern, a philanthropist and entrepreneur; Alan Talansky, a business executive; Anthony "Fel" Amistad, a professor at a for-profit college; Maurice D. Goodman, a nonprofit director; and incumbent Karen Schwarz, a retired businesswoman.

Mr. De Paula said he backs the idea of converting one of the community colleges into a state university. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have schools in the California State University system, so why not a CSU in San Mateo County? He also would argue that funds used to provide district employees with subsidized housing would be better spent on financial aid for students.

Mr. Maldonado said he would advocate for more bus routes, specifically for residents who take two buses. He said fiscal stewardship is a focus on students, and that board members big on capital improvements – new buildings and "purchasing plots of land and things like that" – have it wrong.

Mr. Mandelkern said he would work for transit shuttles to cover the "last mile" problem in getting to the campuses, and argue for more partnerships with high school districts. A lack of data is inhibiting personalized education plans for all students, he said, and closing that gap would inform the board more precisely on students outcomes.

Mr. Talansky said he sees transportation to college as a regional problem. He would advocate for free shuttles from transportation hubs, an emphasis on car-pooling and dedicated parking for shared-car services. He chairs the citizen's committee that oversees the district's capital expenditures, and said that costs have gone "well above" estimates. He said he would like to see more competitive bidding.

Mr. Amistad said students without their own transportation should not be experiencing major problems getting to and from campus. Shuttle buses are a solution and would include environmental benefits on congestion and air pollution problems, he said, adding that capital improvements are less important than having high-demand courses online to increase student access.

Mr. Goodman said that, as a board member of the South San Francisco Unified School District during tough economic times, he is familiar with governing with fiscal prudence. As a college district graduate with children now attending colleges in the district, he said he sees himself as representing continuity of experience and leadership.

Ms. Schwarz said the challenge for board members is maintaining the district's fiscal health. The board gave district employees a 4.78 percent raise in July 2015 and is now working on a strategic plan that includes an initiative to reach a broader swath of the community with a greater selection of enrichment courses, she said.

● See voter guide story.

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