UPDATED: Whitlock drops out of race for college district board

Daily Post Staff Writer

Eugene Whitlock, former HR director of San Mateo County Community College District who was paid $2.28 million to quietly resign, today dropped out of the race for a seat on the college district’s board.

Though he’s withdrawn, his name will still appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. He had only one opponent, Lisa Petrides of Half Moon Bay. The two were competing for a seat that represents the county’s coastside, San Carlos and part of Menlo Park.

He emailed the following statement to the Post:

“After much thought and conversation with my family, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy to be a trustee for the San Mateo County Community College District. This decision was not an easy one, but it is the right one for my family and for me. In addition, I do not want my candidacy — or presence on the board — to be a distraction from the issues that we need to focus on to improve our colleges.”

“I am very grateful to the many people who supported my candidacy. Although we did not succeed in our ultimate goal, we did succeed in bringing attention to changes that can be made to improve access and outcomes for our students, especially those from historically marginalized backgrounds.”

“I am confident that Lisa Petrides will represent Trustee Area 1 well and advance the issues of diversity, equity and social justice that are so important to our community.”

Whitlock dropped out two weeks after the Post revealed a separation agreement between him and the district, which paid him $2.28 million if he resigned as HR director quietly without suing.

The agreement also said that Whitlock cannot seek any sort of relationship with the district. Whitlock told the Post that there is a legal precedent that allows him to run despite what it says in the agreement.

Whitlock had provided information to the District Attorney’s Office that led to an investigation of his former boss, longtime Chancellor Ron Galatolo, who stepped down last year.

Galatolo is under investigation for harassment and mishandling of construction contracts, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Wagstaffe said he hopes to make a decision on whether to charge anyone in the case by late November.

During his campaign, Whitlock got endorsements from county supervisors David Canepa and Don Horsley, Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, Half Moon Bay council members Robert Brownstone, Deborah Penrose, Harvey Rarback and Debbie Ruddock, Pacifica councilwoman Mary Bier, Menlo Park councilman Drew Combs and East Palo Alto councilman Larry Moody. He also received the endorsement of various school board members across the district.

According to filings with the county’s elections office, Whitlock received no contributions over $1,000.

Meanwhile, Petrides has received endorsements from board incumbents Karen Schwarz, Richard Holober, Tom Nuris and Dave Mandelkern.

Mandelkern is running for re-election and is running against fellow incumbent Maurice Goodman.

She also boasts endorsements from state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; Lenny Mendonca, former chief economic and business advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom; county supervisors Don Horsley, Dave Pine and Warren Slocum; Half Moon Bay council members Robert Brownstone, Debbie Rudock and Deborah Penrose; San Carlos council members Ron Collins, Laura Parmer-Lohan and Mark Olbert; Pacifica Mayor Diedre Martin and Pacifica Councilman Michael O’Neill. She is also endorsed by the district’s teachers union, Community College AFT Local 1493, and the union representing non-teaching employees of the district, California School Employees Association Local 33.

Petrides has received $22,000 in contributions over $1,000 according to the county’s elections website. Her contributors include: California Federation of Teachers ($10,000), Twitter co-founder Chris “Biz” Stone ($5,000), San Francisco resident Brewster Kahle ($1,000), Miramar Farms owners Christopher and Jayne Battey ($1,000 each), Half Moon Bay resident and Intel Vice President Jason Goecke ($1,000), retired Stanford resident Myra Strober ($1,000), Moss Beach resident Denisse Phillips ($1,000) and New York resident Rich Caccapolo ($1,000).


  1. Congratulations to the Daily Post for exposing him, his multimillion dollar settlement, and his hypocrisy. I just hope that there wasn’t further backdoor shenanigans between him and the District to get him to drop out. Your work is truly a spotlight. Keep up the good journalism covering the San Mateo Community College District.

  2. I, for one, am disappointed that he dropped out. It would have been great fun to see him on the board, terrorizing the other board members and staff. He would have shaken up a district that needs a good shaking. And what better person to do the shaking than a guy who knows how to do a shake down.

    • By that reasoning, Ron Galatolo should run for the Board of Trustees too. He got himself a deal to get paid to run a program but couldn’t step foot in the District. Both are a couple of degenerate crooks and deserve each other. Maybe the folks at UC Berkeley will wake up to what they got in Whitlock.

  3. As a voter in Area 1, I spent time researching both candidates. There would have been no contest in this race. Lisa Petrides would have been the clear winner regardless. Voters recognize when a candidate has the right intentions and when someone has alterior motives for running. I’ve spoken to family, friends and neighbors and all agree Lisa will make an excellent Trustee. She has a wealth of experience as an educator and is truly committed to supporting underrepresented students. She will bring a set of fresh, objective eyes and a new vision to our County’s College Board. In addition, we need to ensure women continue to be represented on this Board going forward. I’m relieved to know Area 1 will be represented by a Trustee we can be proud to support.

  4. So now Whitlock says he’s pulling out of the race for family reasons. Really? Why wasn’t he thinking about his family when he entered the race last month? Did his family situation change in the last month? Or is this just the convenient excuse somebody makes when they get into trouble and need a reason to retreat? He must think the voters are stupid.

  5. The Daily Journal has mostly ignored the Galatolo scandal and the Whitlock payout, probably because they don’t want to lose advertising from the college district. Then Sue Ann Nivins (or whatever her name is) does a column yesterday that rips off the hard work Emily Mibach of the Post has done on this story. No credit is given. The Journal owes the Post an apology.

    • That is hysterical! Sue Ann Nivins (fictional character on MTM show)… Sue Lempert, former San Mateo mayor, tho, I’m sure you know that – gave me a chuckle anyway.

      The PA Daily Post (PADP) is a great local paper that has tried to keep the spotlight on what has been happening at the SMCCD despite those at the top of SMCCD trying to keep all the dirt firmly packed under the carpet. Those in charge at SMCCD do not like the PADP bc they keep writing the truth – call it a junk paper.

      The San Mateo Daily Journal is a FREE paper that makes you pay if you want to read it online, so I think most people who like to read the paper online go the to PADP anyway. Have always been shocked that they have ignored the College District and written largely fluff pieces.

      Go to the PADP for real news.

      • I don’t think the public would have ever been told about the $2.3 million payment to Whitlock had it not been for Emily and the Daily Post. The Post is a real newspaper. They perform a valuable public service with their reporting.

        • PADP is doing a fantastic job of reporting.. Kudos to Emily.. We need this type of local coverage. Expose the coverups and misuse of our tax dollars. Rival SMDJ seemed to agree with the PADP as stated in the artcile yesterday, Too Much Drama at the College District and suggested an impartial group be brought in to analyze what has gone wrong in the SMCCCD. Perhaps the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury is the right entity and maybe they can get a lot of the preliminary work done by meeting with DA Wagsraffe beforehand. That Galatolo seems to have tarnished our County college system and got rich at our expense. Simply terrible.

    • Of course they have ignored the apparent SMCCCD faults and misrepresented use of tax payer millions; aren’t some of their reporters like Mark Simon members of that SMAC the private fitness club and swimming center?

    • Did you see the first paragraph of the Daily Journal on this story? It is horrible. Something about Whitlock quitting to be with his family. Talk about burying the lead. Incompetent journalism.

  6. It is absolutely astounding to see a man publicly maligned as much as I have seen Ron Galatolo maligned by the people making comments to these stories. I also find it interesting that after 18 months “investigating” claims of malfeasance by a disgruntled employee, Mr. Whitlock, after being informed that there was cause to terminate him, after 18 months of investigating Ron Galatolo, DA Westgaffe has not released any information about these allegations or his investigation and now we hear he won’t have anything to announce until after the election. Am I the only one to find that timing suspicious? A man is innocent until proven guilty. Allegations made by a disgruntled employee are just that. The people commenting here and indeed some affiliated with this paper have tried and convicted him based solely on hyperbole. That is truly disturbing.

  7. To Accoiuntability4all, are you an employee of SMCCCD? It does appears that the employees of our County College District have expressed concern over polices or lack there of, questionable contracts and perks, overpaid executives, treatment or mistreatment of employees, that existed under the Galatolo regime and still lingers with the remaining Galatolo placed administrators. Many community members have expressed concern that should be brought to light which have cost MILLIONS of tax dollars in payouts. If there is nothing to hide, why not have the SM County Civil Grand Jury tell us? Don’t you believe the taxpayers of our County deserve this?

  8. To Longtime County Taxpayer- are you an employee of SMCCCD? Does that matter? My post was directed at those who have decided to find a man guilty before the investigation results even come out, again, conveniently after the election. I wonder why? All of these things you and others assert about Mr. Galatolo, I have to wonder, do you work there? Are you involved in them?

    I think a Civil Grand Jury is a fine idea. But, I think if that is the route that is taken, then it should start with investigating the elected Board of Trustees. Nothing gets spent, no buildings get designed and built, no-one gets a “payout”, no-one gets hired or fired until and unless the Board of Trustees signs off on it. Period. So all of these things you and others allege about Mr. Galatolo should actually be directed at the elected Board of Trustees. Everything alleged, at the end of the day, has their stamp of approval on it. Where are they in all of this?

    As for the “treatment or mistreatment of employees that existed under the Galatolo regime and still lingers with the remaining Galatolo placed administrators”, you must have some first hand knowledge of this mistreatment, I assume – or are you just parroting back what Mr. Whitlock asserts?

    I am all for a Civil Grand Jury – bring it on – but it should start with the Civil Grand Jury investigating the elected Board of Trustees. Their hands are all over every decision that is made including the ones to fire Whitlock, have Galatolo step down and take an Emeritus position, pay off Whitlock and enter into a contract with the Galatolo. Perhaps you all should be directing your vitriol where it belongs – the elected Board.

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