Ward 5 election update

Trustee race to the ballot

As Election Day gets closer, the decision of who will be the Ward 5 Trustee is closing in on voters in the area. Whether it be incumbent Greg Enholm or challenger Fernando Sandoval, both candidates want to provide the best viable option for community members.
Enholm holds priority in raising awareness for the CCAP (College and Career Access Pathways) program that was signed by the governor of California October 2015. The program would allow high school students to take transferable college units starting their sophomore year.
The incumbent said there has been a lot of good feedback regarding CCAP and that he’s hoping there will be as many high school students as possible participating.
“To me, the most important aspect of this is parents and their students need to tell their high schools this is what we want, let’s do it,” said Enholm.
Along with CCAP, Enholm explained continuing improvement of facilities for Los Medanos College and Brentwood Center students has been a priority, adding that he was out campaigning for Measure E in 2014 –– which, after being voted yes on, is allowing LMC to build a Student Union –– and thinks it will be a major improvement in terms of giving students a soft space to congregate and engage in campus activities and student government.
“I feel very proud of that,” he said. “It wasn’t just me, it was the other four trustees and literally hundreds of people who put in the effort to get that bond passed including the people who are endorsing me.”
Enholm said another high priority for him is assuring the successful opening of the new Brentwood center and that it meets far East Contra Costa students needs.
“I’ve been on the board for two years and I have found Greg to be a genuinely, sincerely interested board member to make sure that the voices of East County are heard in the district office,” said supporter and governing board trustee Tim Farley, who represents ward 3.
“He’s been a real advocate for East County when it comes to some things like student access, transportation and so forth.” He added that Enholm is advocating for a Veterans Center in East County, he’s been working for getting more access to the school and building the Brentwood Center.
“I know he’s been critical of the location, but he wants to ensure that the permanent facility can serve as many students as possible,” said Farley.
Contra Costa County Board of Education Area 1 Trustee Pam Mirabella, who is also an Enholm supporter, said she has worked with him in articulating K-14 with career pathways as well as him soliciting Area 1’s support for Measure E.
“The experience I had with him led to communication of West Contra Costa Unified School District to articulate K-14 on our side,” said Mirabella adding that she find “this very important, that community leaders are networking, in partnerships, in order to benefit all of our students.”
That community partnership is important in Sandoval’s campaign as well.
One of Sandoval’s priorities is finding ways to make LMC welcoming so students feel more connected to the campus community. He explained what he’s heard from students is they want a more positive engagement and suggested this can be accomplished through inclusion and diversity of the faculty and students.
“The community college exists for the students,” said Sandoval, adding that it’s important “students understand that they are empowered” and that they may use “their voices in order to improve the educational experience.”
Sandoval said he would like more engagement between the students and the communities they live in.
“I would like to have a college night for the students in the communities that they live in and then at the same time have some of those businesses reciprocate and have a business night back at the colleges,” he said adding that this would be beneficial so that “students can learn about how they run their business and what the challenges are so students can learn the fabric of their community.”
The challenger explained he is advocating for emerging technologies and pathway alignment with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) because it’s a key educational area with funding to support workforce development.
“We can talk to our students about the opportunity to be employed and we can do it here –– we just have to decide we want a partnership and want to invest ourselves into that.”
Additionally, Sandoval wants to prioritize college preparedness for elementary and high school students.
“I really want to see [CCAP] be successful, and it will be, but we need to do more,” said Sandoval. “We need to go down to the lower level to provide applicable resources to help those kids with English Language Arts and … part of that engaging with the community is engaging with K-1 to K-14 leadership and educational facilities to help improve those students so that before they get to college, they’ll be better prepared to be successful.”
LMC instructor and Sandoval’s Brentwood campaign manager Laurie Huffman said she sat down with Sandoval before becoming a part of his campaign and talked about what exactly he could do for the college campus.
“Fernando’s platform of emerging technologies, internships for students aligns directly with what I want to do here at LMC for my students,” she said.
Huffman said Sandoval wants to reach out to some of the major players in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area to find more internship opportunities for students, adding that LMC has always been innovative.
“All faculty should be aware of who’s on the board and what is it that they’re bringing to the table and does it align with a lot of the mission and goal statements for the college,” said Huffman. “And if not, and they can’t stand up and give you proof that they are aligned and they are doing that kind of work then you should really question if they should be there.”
Although both candidates have been working hard to reach out to constituents about their top priorities in this election and what they would like to do for Ward 5, there have been some concerns about each campaign.
In reporting the “Trustee Election Draws Interest” story published by the Experience Sept. 29 on page one, Sandoval sent an email in response to a reporter’s follow-up question about the site of the new Brentwood Center after an in-person interview. Somehow the word for word email response to the reporter wound up as a comment from an endorser, Valerie Romero-Lopez, on three news website –– the LMC Experience, the Antioch Herald and East County Today.
Sandoval explained he later sent his original email response to the Experience reporter to some of his supporters as well.
“People are free to post anything, how they feel about the election, how they feel about the candidates,” he said.
Romero-Lopez is listed as Sandoval’s endorser on fernando4collegeboard.org.
Enholm’s campaign has also created some concern, drawing criticism for his continuing support in moving the previously approved site of the new Brentwood campus to a different location, despite the fact plans for construction are already under way.
District trustee John Márquez, who represents Ward 1, said Enholm is misleading his constituents by continuing to post campaign signs saying Antioch-Oakley area “deserves a 110-acre community college … not a 17-acre campus in southernmost Brentwood.”
In an interview for the same Sept. 29 Experience article referenced above, Enholm even acknowledged a location change is unlikely.
“We would have to do studies, we would have to buy land, we would have to get plans for construction we would have to get the OK of the community college association on the state level because they give us money every year and we gain the risk of losing money if we go out and do something silly,” said Márquez. “I think it’s misleading to the public.”
But Enholm explained the Brentwood Center site that has been selected will most likely not fit the needs of the community in his ward into the future.
“I certainly hope that what will happen is there will be a recognition by the board that we do need to start the planning process to have a full college. Now when will it be? It could be 30 years from now,” said Enholm. “I think that our community college district should recognize that, and you may end up saying it’s unnecessary. That’s fine but at least we did the plan — that’s what I want.”

Setting the record straight:

In the article entitled “Trustee election draws interest” in the Sept. 29 issue, Fernando Sandoval was quoted saying opponent Greg Enholm had been at the Election Office on the last filing day “since 6 o’clock in the morning waiting to see if he would be getting challenged for the race.” In fact-checking the business hours of the Contra Costa County Election Office, we found that the office officially opens at 8 a.m. and Enholm said he had been there that day from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.