If Tuesday’s election results are any indication, the SBCC Board of Trustees has sparked community frustration, with three of four incumbents ousted by newcomers.
Those three newcomers and Marsha Croninger created a contingent after a group of concerned citizens got together and decided to find candidates to run for election. The community members were concerned with parent-child workshops, continuing and adult education, and board procedures.
Two incumbents were neck-and-neck for the fourth spot, with fewer than 200 votes separating them. Although Desmond O’Neill held a slight lead over Joe Dobbs, the results are not yet final, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office. Technically, results aren’t required to be certified for 28 days, and officials said there will be an update by Friday afternoon.
The SBCC board’s accessibility to the public and outreach to community members remains the most pressing issue, according to Blum, Haslund and Macker.
The “us vs. them” mentality of the battling campaigns had a lot to do with procedural issues, and Blum said she wants to put the public meetings on television or at least live stream them online.
“It’s a new day. We need to be positive and put politics aside, and that’s what I told (SBCC) President Andreea Serban this morning,” Blum told Noozhawk on Wednesday. “I hope that’s what the other trustees can do, too.”
Haslund said the rhetoric needs to come down, and though voters often want quick answers to illustrate the differences between candidates, all of the candidates have students’ best interests in mind.
“I have no reason to doubt (the incumbents’) sincerity, and I hope they believe mine,” he said.
He lectured about the election results — and his own campaign — in his Wednesday class, and said he had been cautiously optimistic because of the huge response to the campaign announcement.
“There was such a public response to the fact that we were running, and I wouldn’t be here today talking to you as a winning candidate if not for the downside of the previous board,” he said.
Macker said there has been frustration with community members not being heard, and concerns weren’t acknowledged by the board. Haslund said students and the general public know the difference between asking for feedback and actually being open to receiving some.
“Human beings don’t like being discounted,” he said. “At the end of a class, some professors will say, ‘Any questions? No? Bye.’ Yes, they paused and asked for questions, but didn’t mean it.”
Blum, Haslund, Macker and O’Neill or Dobbs will serve four-year terms, and they’ll join board members Morris Jurkowitz, Joan Livingston, Luis Villegas and student representative Nicole Ridgell.
A swearing-in ceremony will be held during the Dec. 16 board meeting, which will begin at 4 p.m.
Blum was a local teacher before getting involved in city government in 1990. Haslund was a member of SBCC’s Academic Senate and developed a global studies major and study abroad programs in his time at SBCC before retiring in 2009.
Macker, who owns Dodson Land Surveying Inc., has worked as an accounting manager and certified public accountant. Her 18-year-old son is a dually enrolled student at SBCC and strongly supported her decision to run, she said.
O’Neill, a 16-year veteran of the board, is a retired lawyer and was chairman of the Measure V bond campaign in 2008. Dobbs, current board president, is a retired optometrist and has taught Adult Education classes at SBCC. He was elected to the board in 1971.
Final election returns released early Wednesday showed Haslund surpassing Sally Green in district area No. 1, with 54.29 percent (24,411 votes) to 45.37 percent (20,399 votes) of the vote, respectively.
In district area No. 3, Blum took the lead at 33.29 percent (25,126 votes), followed by O’Neill at 22.57 percent (17,038 votes), Dobbs at 22.38 percent (16,893) and Croninger at 21.49 percent (16,218 votes).
In district area No. 4, Macker received 51.62 percent (22,583 votes) of the vote over Alexander’s 48.12 percent (21,052 votes).