The world changed with the murder of George Floyd this spring. Three of the candidates currently running for the City College board get it; three no. We endorse the three who do – Robert Miller, Anna Everett, and Erin Guereña.
In response to Floyd’s murder, the Community College board passed a resolution condemning police brutality and saying black lives matter. It was clarified that the resolution was not an endorsement of the Black Lives Matter organization or details of its program. It just meant that black lives mattered.
Yet two board members – one being outgoing candidate Veronica Gallardo – couldn’t bring themselves to back him up. It was unfair, they argued, to paint all law enforcement officers with the rogue cops and bad apples brush. But the resolution never came close to doing so.
Our approval is not an attempt at a policy of purity. Since people of color make up a large percentage of the student body at City College, it is essential that the values of school board members reflect the daily realities of their students. It is that simple.
City College is a real gem of a school. In recent years, it has twice been named the nation’s top community college, but its achievement gap has not budged. And now, in the wake of COVID, it faces enormous challenges that are not due to their own failings: declining enrollments, plummeting revenues, facilities desperately in need of modernization, and growing deficits. . There are no easy answers, only hard questions.
Having a board up to the challenge is essential.
Incumbent Robert Miller, representing the district, including Goleta, served one term and two terms as president. It is steeped in the grim thoroughness of the school’s financial situation. After a few confusing missteps, like how he mismanaged a pledge debate, he sought to broaden his understanding. His style is gentle but thoughtful, more of a mediator than a general counsel, which he was before he retired. This tone will help bring about the changes necessary for SBCC to become a truly inclusive campus.
Erin Guereña and Anna Everett, two other candidates who have never run before, bring skills and life experiences that will add depth and clarity to board meetings. That Guereña – and her husband – managed to open a new hair salon in the face of the pandemic speaks volumes about her courage, skills and determination.
Anna Everett, who recently retired as chair of UCSB’s Film and Media department, is herself a product of community college education. At UCSB, she broadened educational opportunities to all students, bringing new perspectives to the discussion. Civically active, she has served on several boards, including the County Commission for Women, where she has built a reputation as a hardworking leader who listens to all voices with civil humanity.