Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Mandelman wins
City College seat


College board member-elect Rafael Mandelman shares a smile with supporter Curt Robinson. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)
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An out gay man has won election to the board of the troubled City College of San Francisco, preliminary election results show.

As of Tuesday night, November 6, attorney Rafael Mandelman had 13.76 percent of the vote. That places him on the board along with incumbents Steve Ngo, who had 14.35 percent; Natalie Berg, who had 13.67 percent; and Chris Jackson, who had 13.01 percent. Voters cast a total of 517,748 ballots in the race, according to unofficial returns.

In an interview Wednesday, November 7, Mandelman said his priority would be "to restore financial stability at the school" and "preserve the great programs and classes that the college has, and to begin to restore and rebuild morale at the institution."

Mandelman, who ran unsuccessfully for District 8 supervisor two years ago, thanked a broad coalition of the LGBT community for his victory.

"I was so gratified that the LGBT community was so supportive of my campaign. From the Bay Area Reporter to the Toklas and Milk Democratic clubs to Mark Leno and Tom Ammiano and David Campos, I really felt the whole community had my back," he told the B.A.R. in an email, referring to gay politicos in the state Senate, Assembly, and Board of Supervisors, respectively.

The community college, which has nine campuses and 86,000 students, has recently faced losing its accreditation due to problems that were addressed in a critical report issued in June by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. One of the nine campuses, in the Castro neighborhood, is expected to close next semester.

The commission outlined a series of shortcomings, including an inadequate funding base, lack of a planning process, a failure to react to ongoing reduced funding, and inadequate administrative leadership.

The passage of Proposition A is expected to help the school. The local proposition, which had garnered 72.48 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night, authorizes a $79 tax on each parcel of residential and commercial property in the city for eight years.

Berg, who's served three terms as the board's president, said Wednesday that this term would be her last.

"I don't intend to run again. ... This is going to be a very productive four years for me," she said.

"I think we need to take control of the financial situation, and I intend to do that," she said. Among other things, Berg said she'd work to ensure the school isn't spending "money we don't have in anticipation of money we might get. We're going to pay as we go."

City College is "by far the gem of San Francisco," she added. "We're the first chance for some people, and we're the last chance for some people."

When Mandelman joins the board, he won't be the only out member. Another gay man, Lawrence Wong, currently serves on the panel. His seat is up in 2014.

One incumbent lost Tuesday. Rodrigo Santos, whom Mayor Ed Lee appointed to the panel in August to serve out the remaining few months of Trustee Milton Marks III's term, came up short in his quest for a full term. Marks died due to a brain tumor.

Meanwhile, interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman began work at the college November 1.

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