Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees candidates running for seats on the November ballot include, from left: Charlotte Gullap-Moore; Debi Stoker; Marsha Croninger; and Sharon Salvador-Jegottka.
Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees candidates running for seats on the November ballot include, from left: Charlotte Gullap-Moore; Debi Stoker; Marsha Croninger; and Sharon Salvador-Jegottka.  (Contributed photos)

Two seats on the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees are on November’s ballot, and candidates for each race have ideas about how the large community college district should be run.

Board members represent seven districts from Carpinteria to Goleta.

Debi Stoker and Charlotte Gullap-Moore are running for Trustee Area 1, which stretches from Montecito to Carpinteria. 

Debi Stoker, a small business owner, was motivated to run after growing frustrated with City College administration while her daughter was enrolled. 

Her husband, Mike Stoker, who is running for California Assembly District 37, convinced her to run for the SBCC board, she told Noozhawk. 

The biggest issue she wants to address is the college’s COVID-19 protocols

Currently at City College, masks are no longer required to attend classes, but students are required to either be fully vaccinated or take weekly tests if they have a vaccine exemption.

Charlotte Gullap-Moore

Charlotte Gullap-Moore (Contributed photo)

Debi Stoker

Debi Stoker (Contributed photo)

Stoker said that she supports vaccinations, but believes that it should be someone’s personal choice whether to receive one.

“The mandates are not necessary,” Stoker said.

Gullap-Moore was previously a nurse and is now a lecturer at California State University, Channel Islands campus as well as at the Goleta extension campus in the nursing program.

Moore teaches baccalaureate nursing students and occasionally teaches newly accredited family nurse practitioner master-level nursing students. 

“As a health care provider and a member of the nursing profession for over 20 years, I have seen countless times how the inequitable access or the non-existence of resources in the community impacts the community’s health and wellness,” Moore said. “And one of those key resources is education.”

Moore herself is a community college graduate and said that community college offers alternative options for students. 

Moore said that not everyone is ready to go off to a four-year university after high school for many reasons. 

“(Community college is) like that on that ongoing ramp,” Moore said. “You have that major highway and you just started driving, you’re not quite sure but you need a long enough ramp so that you can get up enough speed to safely merge onto traffic.”

An important issue for Moore is to make sure that all students are getting the support they need, whether they are full-time or part-time students.

“Are we allowing that entry into the community college to be equitably accessible?” Moore said.

“Are we keeping in hindsight that because of the pandemic, the stressors of life have been exacerbated, with not having a place to live, can’t find housing, can’t pay for your books, can’t get access to healthy food?”

Moore said that all of these factors contribute to students retention and post-community college success.

Moore said that from talking to people in her trustee area, she has been told it is important that the dual enrollment program is supported, learning centers should be implemented in Carpinteria for students who commute from that area, and that non-credit courses are kept at the college. 

Dual enrollment is a program that allows for students to be enrolled in more than one institution simultaneously. This could mean that students enrolled in high school or a four year university are enrolled in classes at City College at the same time.

“I completely believe that I can be more utilized with that equitable lens to operationalize decisions that will strengthen our institutions like SBCC to be robust, to remain revered as one of those in the top 10 community colleges to attend and to allow our students to successfully complete their degree or certificate or continuing education and which ultimately allows the community to flourish,” Moore said. 

2 Candidates Running for Trustee Area 5 Seat

In Santa Barbara’s Trustee Area 5, incumbent Marsha Croninger and Sharon Salvador-Jegottka are running for the board seat.

Jegottka decided to run after struggling to enroll her son in the dual-enrollment program at City College.

“It was very complicated for me and him,” Jegottka said. “And me being an American citizen and educated, imagine the problems that a second language learner is going to have. It would just cause them to give up.”

Marsha Croninger

Marsha Croninger (Contributed photo)

Sharon Salvador-Jegottka

Sharon Salvador-Jegottka (Contributed photo)

Jegottka grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Santa Barbara City College before transferring to San Francisco State University. She said she is running to improve the dual-enrollment program, partner with local businesses in Santa Barbara and make education more accessible to all people in the community.

Jegottka believes that the COVID-19 protocols in place at City College have made education inaccessible. She believes the mask and vaccine policies have caused students to not pursue higher education or attend other community colleges outside of Santa Barbara. 

While Jegottka said she is not against vaccines and that her children have been vaccinated, she said she believes people should have the choice to be vaccinated. 

“We’ve been given a free will and we have a choice to make those decisions and when it comes to our education, we should not have to make our decision to get an education based on a vaccine. I think that’s just horrible for anybody” Jegottk told Noozhawk.

Croninger has been on the board of trustees since 2010, and was president of the board from 2015 to 2018.

“I think that the experience I have makes a real difference for the college,” Croninger said. “I certainly have a lot of years of experience, learning about the college and the programs and the budget.”

Croninger said that among the current board members, she is the most knowledgeable about the budget. A major impact she has had during her time on the board was to make the budget for City College more transparent for the public.  

“The budget was not transparent when I arrived. It was actually deliberately not transparent and now it is extremely transparent,” she said.

Improving local enrollment and the dual enrollment programs are the most important issues Croninger would want to address if elected again to the board. 

“That includes the Promise Program, dual enrollment credit, non-credit, adult ed, all of those areas, I think are tremendously important for our local enrollment,” Croninger said.

The SBCC Foundation’s Promise program allows local high school graduates to attend SBCC full-time, free of charge, for up to two years. 

Croninger said that there is a myth that enrollment has dropped at City College due to the Board’s COVID-19 protocols. However, enrollment has steadily been in decline since the 2009-2010 school year across higher education across California, she says. 

“That drop in students was statewide,” Croninger said. “We had it at every other college and it occurred before there was any vaccine in-person requirements at SBCC.

“We didn’t have the vaccine requirement until last October and that was not associated with the drop,” Croninger said. 

Enrollment has decreased by 43% at City College since the pandemic began. However, the number of degrees given in the 2021 school year has almost tripled for City College, according to Croinger. Additionally, Croninger said the number of trade certifications has more than doubled in 2022. 

Both Jegottka and Stoker have criticized how the Board of Trustees has handled the COVID-19 protocols at the college. Croninger said that the masking protocols remained in place longer because plans for the year were made several months prior to each semester and when the president was still unsure of how the rates of the virus would change. 

SBCC’s reported COVID-19 case rates have been much lower on campus compared to the larger Santa Barbara community, Croninger said.

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Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.