Experience gets edge at Cuesta College

Barbara George
Barbara George jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The two candidates running for the single contested seat on the Cuesta College Board of Trustees are both well qualified, which makes this race a tough call.

Both are smart, have a good understanding of the issues and agree there’s a need for strong leadership in a community college district that’s seen one misstep after another: a defeated bond measure, turnover in the presidency, a failed attempt to open a South County Center and, of course, the struggle to retain accreditation.

David Baldwin, a trustee for two union pension funds, would bring a fresh perspective to the board. However, we believe that Barbara George’s background and experience give her the edge.

George worked for Cuesta College for 27 years, serving as director of community services, director of advancement and director of the nonprofit foundation. Among other accomplishments, she led the capital campaign to establish a North County campus, she built Cuesta’s endowment program and she served on numerous accreditation teams. She retired in 2005, returning briefly in 2010 to serve as interim director of the Cuesta Foundation.

Clearly, George has a wealth of institutional knowledge, but we believe she also has the leadership qualities needed to get Cuesta College through these challenging times. She recognizes the shortcomings that led to the recent accreditation struggle, which has yet to be resolved, and we believe she has the independence to challenge the status quo, should that prove necessary.

George also appreciates the value of Cuesta College’s community-based programs — such as noncredit enrichment classes — that are, unfortunately, considered increasingly expendable in this age of slash-and-burn budgeting. Even if such programming has to be fee-based, it’s important to continue to offer it, and we believe George will be a strong advocate for all of Cuesta College’s constituents.

That said, we do find a few of George’s positions to be too ambitious for these lean times. Both she and Baldwin, for example, told The Tribune Editorial Board that they support adding a South County campus. We’d prefer to see that completely off the table; we don’t believe taxpayers should be saddled with that expense, when two campuses — Allan Hancock in Santa Maria and Cuesta College’s San Luis Obispo campus — are within reasonable distance of South County.

Overall, though, we believe George’s vision for Cuesta is sound, and she has the energy, the expertise and the dedication to move the college in the right direction.

The Tribune urges voters to elect Barbara George to the Cuesta College Board of Trustees.

Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.

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