By Miriam Raftery and Mary Paulet
October 28, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District faces huge challenges--challenges that the winners of races for two open school board seats will have to face.
State Chancellor Jack Scott, speaking in East County August 27, called state budgets a “tragedy” for the impact on our community colleges. The District has managed to serve more students with less money than in the past, though cuts to summer school and many other programs have been made. The District also faces swelling admissions due to students who can’t afford four-year universities amid the economy, as well as the growing number of refugees, including Iraqi Chaldeans, in East County.
Two of the candidates, Edwin Hiel and Debbie Justeson, are supported by the American Federation of Teachers. Two others, Leland Ping and Orrin Kole, are backed by the Christian Voters Guide and the San Diego Republican Party. Hiel and Ping are running for seat one, along with a third candidate, Ryan Lee Baker. Justeson and Kole are running for seat 2. (In seat 3, incumbent Gregg Barr is running unopposed.)
ECM sent questionnaires to all candidates. one candidate, Kole, responded in writing. Ping provided a phone interview. Below is information about the candidates gleaned from a variety of sources including Smart Voter, evoter, articles/ posts in other local media, and direct contact with candidates.
Baker lists no ballot designation and no information on his could be found online.
Hiel is a community college professor and counselor with a master’s degree from San Diego State University in counseling as well as degrees in agricultural management and animal science from Cal Poly. H e is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers local 1931, a well as the San Diego/Imperial Counties Labor Council and the San Diego Democratic Party.
Justeson is a college/university instructor. She is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers local 1931, as well as the San Diego/Imperial Counties Labor Council and the San Diego Democratic Party.
Kole has spent 10 years in law enforcement and is a U.S. Army veteran. He is a member of the Republican Central Committee. says he is running to bring balance on the board, citing a “union power play.” He says he would address the budget shortfall by having “everyone do their part. Students should not suffer the most.” He would not support a bond measure to raise funds. He opposes the Dream Act. Kole is endorsed by the San Diego Republican Party and the Christian Voters Guide.
Ping is a preacher, insurance agent and former high school teacher. He is for fiscal restraint and transparency. He is also against the Dream Act. He would support taking away the ability of college-age children of undocumented immigrants to attend college. He is endorsed by the San Diego Republican Party, Republican officials including GCCCD board member Rick Alexander, as well as the Christian Voters Guide.