BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Two new faces will join the San Mateo County Community College District board while two incumbents face off for the third seat in November.
This is because the board is now being elected by district, so residents of a specific area can only vote for one person to sit on the five-member board, which oversees three community colleges — Skyline in San Bruno, Canada in Redwood City and College of San Mateo.
This year, the seats up for grabs are District 1, which covers San Carlos, part of Menlo Park and the coastside, District 3, which covers western South San Francisco to Hillsborough, and District 5, which covers Redwood City, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
Because of this divide, no current board member lives in District 1, and two current members, Maurice Goodman and Dave Mandelkern, live in District 3.
Meanwhile, in District 5, incumbent Karen Schwarz has decided not to seek re-election, so that means a second fresh face will be on the board. Running for that seat are John Pimentel, Lisa Hicks-Dumanske and Blair Whitney.
The election for this district comes about a year after longtime Chancellor Ron Galatolo left his position, only to be rehired as chancellor emeritus for the same salary he had previously received, with the catch that he could no longer come to campus. Shortly after Galatolo stepped down, the Post reported that the District Attorney’s Office was investigating Galatolo for harassment and mishandling construction contracts.
The district’s former human resources director, Eugene Whitlock, had jumped into the race to represent District 1, but the Post discovered that the district had paid Whitlock $2.28 million in a previously undisclosed settlement agreement. On Sept. 21, Whitlock dropped out of the race though his name remains on the ballot.
That left Half Moon Bay resident Lisa Petrides as the only candidate.
In District 3, Goodman and Mandelkern are facing off to keep their seat on the board.
Goodman, 47, lives in South San Francisco and is the executive director of Operation Genesis Inc., a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youths become leaders. He has been on the board since 2016 and before that served two terms on the South San Francisco Unified School Board.
Goodman says he is seeking re-election to provide the board with some continuity as it aims to become accountable and transparent. His priorities if re-elected include making sure students and employees of the district feel supported during and after COVID, adding student housing and improving the success of black and brown students.
Goodman has endorsements from state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, the entire Burlingame City Council, county education Superintendent Nancy Magee, County Supervisor David Canepa, Millbrae Councilwoman Ann Schnieder and the college AFT and CSEA unions.
The AFT faculty union endorsed both Goodman and Mandelkern, saying either could do a good job, as well as Petrides and Pimentel.
Mandelkern, 61, lives in Hillsborough and is a retired entrepreneur who started several companies.
He is on various nonprofit boards, including the California State Parks Foundation. Mandelkern, a board member for 17 years, said he decided to seek another term because he thinks he has the skills and experience to guide the district through the unsure times of COVID-19.
His goals if re-elected include updating the district’s strategic plan, expanding the four-year degrees offered and examining the district’s hosting of a police academy at College of San Mateo.
Mandelkern has endorsements from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, college trustees Tom Nuris and Richard Holober, all of the Millbrae council except for Schnieder, all of the county’s supervisors except for Canepa, the county’s Democratic Party and its labor council.
In District 5, three newcomers are facing off — Menlo Park resident Pimentel, Redwood City resident Hicks-Dumanske and North Fair Oaks resident Whitney.
Hicks-Dumanske, 59, is the executive director of the Redwood City Library Foundation. She is running for the board because she has fallen in love with the district’s colleges while attending district meetings for the past year and a half.
She says she wants to make sure programs students need to graduate are not cut, improve transportation to the colleges and find ways to help students with food and housing insecurity. She is endorsed by Senator Hill, trustees Karen Schwarz and Nuris, all of the Redwood City Council except for Giselle Hale and Janet Borgens, ex-East Palo Alto Councilwoman Donna Rutherford and supervisors Don Horsley and Canepa.
Pimentel, 54, is a project developer at green power companies Foundation Windpower and Sustainable Water Solutions. He is running for the board because community college allowed him to better his life, and he wants to expand the district’s programs that help needy students. His priorities include making the district tuition-free, increasing counseling for students and improving the district’s transparency.
He is endorsed by the county’s Democratic Party, the county labor council, board trustees Holober and Mandelkern, Menlo Park council members Cat Carlton, Ray Mueller and Drew Combs, East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody and Redwood City councilwomen Giselle Hale and Janet Borgens.
Whitney, 51 is a member of the North Fair Oaks Community Council, which is appointed by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, works as a site supervisor for Allied Universal security and is an Army veteran.
Whitney said he is running because he is passionate about education. He wants to ensure classes students need to transfer to four-year colleges are still offered amid the pandemic and help restore trust in the district.