By Madison Salter /Staff Writer
Voters will go to the polls for three LBCC Board of Trustees’ seats, Long Beach mayor, city attorney, city auditor, city prosecutor, City Council seats and the Long Beach Unified School District Board on Tuesday, April 8.
Board of Trustee Areas 1, 3, and 5 are up for election.
Marshall Blesofsky is opposed by incumbent Jeffrey Kellogg for Area 1.
Blesofsky said if he’s elected, he plans to restore vocational programs like welding, aviation and photography.
Blesofsky moved to California in 1982 with wife Dr. Susan Sklar and four children including a foster son who joined the family during his high school years.
Regarding hostility toward students during Board meetings, Blesofsky said, “Student representatives are put down all the time. Some members look down or appear like they are not paying attention. This is not OK.”
His opponent Kellogg, current Trustee president, said regarding the 2013 Winter session, “Students embraced the classes that were offered.”
Kellogg said classes were 97 percent full and it proved to be false that only a specific group of students would enroll in the two-tiered Winter intersession courses.
Before becoming a Trustee Kellogg served on the Long Beach City Council. He has been a Board member since 2002, and he was re-elected in 2006 and 2010.
Kellogg served as the president of the Board in all three terms.
Stella Ursua is opposed by Sunny Zia for Area 3.
Ursua said, “I’d like to have town meetings and a monthly newsletter.”
In 2008 Ursua lost her job of 25 years just after purchasing her home. She worked for corporate America as a national training manager for a Fortune 500 company.
Ursua said, “Turning my life around this late in life was hard, but it only made me stronger.”
She has created training programs and training departments from the ground up for about 25 years.
Her opponent Zia said, regarding AB955, “I don’t think it’s an acceptable model for LBCC. It’s privatization of a Community College.”
She said she feels AB955 is a toll road of the wealthy.
As a first-generation immigrant, Zia said she envisions access to affordable education.
Zia also said, “Students need to be able to voice their concerns. They are not being acted on or listened to. We need to rule effectively, it’s really important.”
Zia or Ursua will become the first woman on the Board in eight years.
The last woman trustee to serve was Dianne McNinch, who was a trustee from 1996-2006.
Board Secretary Jackie Hann said, “There have been seven women and nine men that have served for various terms through this current election.”
Virginia Baxter is opposed by Gregory Slaughter for Area 5.
Baxter said it’s important to “listen to people before you speak and gather information from people.”
Baxter has worked at LBCC for more than 40 years and is currently the executive director of the LBCC Foundation.
Regarding AB955 Baxter said, “Give it a chance for a year. If you don’t want to pay $225, you don’t have to.”
She said she believes it needs to be evaluated for a least a year and look at facts like drop rates to see if they are lower because of the cost.
Her opponent Slaughter said as a “result of the two-tiered system, LBCC was considered an unfriendly school to military veterans. As a veteran I received funds from the GI Bill.”
Slaughter said he is also concerned with the high cost of textbooks, parking and registration problems.
He said, “I’ve been to every meeting the past year and a half. I’ve witnessed the rudeness toward the previous and current student Trustee.”
The former LBCC administration of justice teacher said the Board needs to lead with students and student leaders.
Richard Garcia, associate director of public relations and marketing, said, “Compensation for each LBCC member is $400 per month and is established by the California Education Code based on our enrollment. Each board member is also eligible to receive medical insurance coverage.”
Meanwhile, current Trustee Doug Otto, former Trustee Gerrie Schipske and former LBCC public relations manager and speech teacher Robert Garcia are among the 10 candidates running for mayor of Long Beach.
Otto said on his website, “Equality in our city means strategies for enabling people to get involved and invested in their community.”
Otto was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2008.
Schipske said on her website, “We can and must do better in order to get our city back on track.”
If elected, Schipske or Garcia would be the first openly gay mayor of Long Beach.
Schipske and her partner have been together for 33 years and have raised three children together.
Garcia said on his website he is “committed to moving Long Beach forward by attracting tech and green jobs, creating new educational partnerships and rebuilding our aging streets, sidewalks and alleys.”
Garcia is co-founder of the Long Beach Post, which started in 2007.
Long Beach City Clerk Larry Herrera said if one candidate for mayor does not receive a majority of the votes, “The top two go to a run-off election June 3.”
Current Trustee Roberto Uranga is running for Long Beach City Council and is opposed by three people.
Uranga said, “I’ve built some really great relationships from the Board of Trustees. We’ve seen some of the most difficult times in the past three years.”
If elected, Uranga’s seat on the Board will be open.
Uranga said it’s up to the new Board taking office in July to fill his seat. They could decide to have an open election, find a replacement or appoint someone for Area 2 or 4.