SDCCD Board of Trustees holds its primary election

Two of the current board members are running against two new candidates


From left, back row, Craig Milgrim, Mary Graham, and (front row) Sean Elo, J.D., Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D., Bernie Rhinerson. Trustees Mary Graham and Bernie Rhinerson are running for re-election. Photo provided by SDCCD

Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle, Managing Editor

Unbeknownst to many students, the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees is responsible for the management and oversight of the entire district.

It is the job of the trustees to approve the annual budget and address student, faculty and facility issues.

Moreover, they are involved in the final hiring of college presidents, and they are also the ones the chancellor reports to.

With the retirement of Chancellor Constance Carroll coming next year, the board will appoint a search committee, who have a final say on the next district chancellor.

Current board member and re-election candidate Bernie Rhinerson said that it is their job to be “active in advocating” for money in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., as well as to make sure the community is well represented.

Alongside presidential primaries, the Board of Trustees will also have their primaries on March 3.

Two current board members are up for re-election: Bernie Rhinerson and Mary Graham. They are running against Alex Loupe and Mike Palomba.

Rhinerson got his B.A. and M.P.A. from SDSU and has been on the board since 2012. “I am very passionate about the importance of education in our society … I saw first-hand how education can change people’s lives,” Rhinerson said.

The second member going for re-election is Graham, who has been on the board since 2008. She earned her B.A. from UC Riverside and her M.F.A from SDSU. Besides being on the board, she also has experience in community colleges as a faculty and staff member at Cuyamaca College.

The third candidate is Palomba, who is an SDSU student pursuing a degree in business administration with a minor in political science. Palomba seeks to use his first-hand knowledge of being a current student to address the needs of other students. He aims to remove barriers of entry by reducing excess cost and emphasizing the fiscal responsibility of students.

The fourth candidate is Loupe, who is listed as a caretaker for San Diego Unified School District. Loupe has minimal campaign information available.

“The official requirement (for becoming a board candidate) is that you need to be 18 years old and live in San Diego, pretty much anyone can do it,” said Rhinerson, who believes a candidate should also have experience.

ASG President Oscar Rendon says a board member should understand “the struggles that community college students face.”

The City ASG president is in regular communication with the board, alongside representatives from Mesa and Miramar colleges.

“I am the voice for the students,” Rendon said about his involvement with the board.

The monthly board meetings are public, and students can attend and address the board.

The primaries will take place on March 3, with the general elections taking place in November.

Uyen Pham and Alexander Gomez contributed to this report.