Thursday, November 1, 2007
The new board won’t decide the top political issue facing Monterey Peninsula College: whether or not trustees should be elected from specific districts instead of at-large elections.
In early November, the Citizen’s Committee for MPC Redistricting is expected to submit a petition to split the college’s governance into five districts. If the signatures are verified, voters could decide the redistricting issue on the February 2008 ballot, says Mel Mason, chairman of the citizen’s group. “We are going to put it where it belongs—in the hands of the people,” Mason says.
But this hasn’t stopped all three challengers in the MPC board race from strongly supporting district elections. Incumbents, however, who voted to maintain at-large elections in January, say the status quo is just fine.
The petition would create trustee areas in Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove/Pebble Beach and Carmel Valley to Big Sur. Supporters say this would increase diversity on the board.
Four white men from Carmel, Pebble Beach and unincorporated Monterey County currently sit on the panel. But the ethnic and geographic makeup of the board could shift after the Nov. 6 election.
If elected, Diane Cordero de Noriega, former provost and interim president at CSUMB, would be the first-ever trustee from Marina and the only Latina. Cordero de Noriega and Carl Pohlhammer of Pacific Grove, who has taught at MPC for 44 years, are vying for a two-year term.
Cordero de Noriega says MPC needs to further diversify its student population. Preliminary numbers show the college’s student population this semester is 5 percent African-American and 17 percent Latino.
Loren Steck, one of three incumbents up for reelection, says redistricting could create conflict because trustees would vote for what’s best for their constituents at the expense of the college as a whole.
Alvin Edwards doesn’t buy that logic. Edwards, a Seaside fire captain, says district elections would guarantee representation for Marina and Seaside, the two fastest growing cities on the Peninsula. Although Edwards is African-American, he says the issue transcends race: “I don’t care if the person is black, white, Hispanic or Latino, as long as they represent Seaside and Marina.”