One seat on Cuesta board is contested

Two of three seats on the Cuesta College Board of Trustees up for reelection in November will be filled by incumbents. Two candidates are vying for the remaining seat.

Angela Mitchell, vice president of the board, and trustee Gaye Galvan run unopposed.

Per Mathiesen, who has served on the board for 16 years, will not seek re-election.

Barbara George, former executive director of the Cuesta College Foundation, and David Baldwin are seeking Mathiesen’s post.

The election comes as Cuesta College faces unprecedented struggles related to its accreditation which it has been striving to retain since 2009, when it received an initial warning by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that it was not meeting the required standards. Cuesta has until October to prove that it has improved in three key areas — planning and assessment, technology resources, and financial planning and stability.

The college is now in the final stage of sanction: It must fix the identified problems this year or it will lose its accreditation and face closure.

In March, the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers rebuked the Board of Trustees with a “resolution of disapproval” for its lack of oversight regarding the college’s struggle to maintain its accreditation.

Mathiesen, 80, a proponent of vocational programs at the college, said the challenges facing the college did not influence his decision not to seek reelection.

“I am 80 years old, it is just time to let someone else get on the board and do something,” he said.

“I am not afraid of the college’s ability to educate,” Mathiesen said. “What we need to do better is show how we do it and be able to write up the papers that prove it in the right manner.”

Candidate Barbara George, who worked at Cuesta College for 27 years before retiring in 2005 as the executive director of the college’s foundation and recently filled that post on an interim basis for a year, has served on multiple accreditation teams in the past.

“Accreditation is one of the reasons that prompted me to do this,” George said. “I can offer some real depth and knowledge.”

Candidate David Baldwin, 45, a lifelong resident of Los Osos, was a cement mason for 12 years before becoming a full-time representative for the union representing the cement masons.

Baldwin said his experience as a trustee and chairman on several boards overseeing the pension fund for the 5,000 members of the union that spans from San Luis Obispo to Southern California makes him a good fit for the position.

“I have lived in the community my whole life,” he said. “Cuesta College belongs to all of us. I care about it. I see it as a shining star; although that might have dimmed in recent years it is still an essential part of the Central Coast. And I want it to remain that way.”

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.