Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tradition and natural tendency dictate that the first one from trustee candidate Diane Cordero de Noriega’s home to inspect the local voting precinct is the redhead named Lucy. The tabby cat strolls across the street to the neighbor’s house – which they celebrate as the only residential precinct in the county – and looks around.
“Lucy is the first one to vote,” Noriega says.
Now Lucy is lounging in his luxurious coat while Noriega hosts a very tame election night gathering. If the fact that Lucy is male feels a touch counterintuitive, so might this: the debate over the future of MPC centers more out here in the former military corners of Marina and Seaside than it does between Lake El Estero and Highway 1. Nevertheless, both are as true as the fact that Lucy’s sister is named Ricki.
Marina and Seaside, say Noriega and her fellow challengers, is precisely where MPC should be heading. Each has prioritized district elections, as opposed to the current system of at-large elections, as a way of electing a board more representative and responsive to the Peninsula’s diverse populations and educational needs. “We have to avoid the situation where the board is so skewed,” Noriega says of incumbents Charles Page, Loren Stock and R. Lynn Davis, three 50-plus white males, none of whom live in Seaside or Marina. “It’s not healthy. The first role of the board is to represent the district.”
Noriega, a 64-year-old former CSUMB provost and current part-time professor, would make this a key step in ramping up recruitment in the fastest-growing areas of MPC’s district. Only Noriega won’t help choreograph such changes – a 10pm check of the poll numbers on a laptop is met by a collective “Ooouh.” Noriega is down big; so too is newcomer and Seaside fire captain Alvin Edwards, who is several thousand votes behind Page, Stock and Davis, who share increased enrollment and teacher recruiting as priorities of their next term.
Noriega’s opponent is Carl Pohlhammer, a 75-year-old MPC professor who ran on the slogan “a teacher for a change.” A new candidate himself, he is also eager to see redistricting and a well-thought-out expansion on Fort Ord. “I have my ideas of what the new campus ought to be,” he says, “but I want to find out from community what it believes – we must maintain ties with the people we are serving.”