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'Experienced Team' vs. 'Committee for Quality' in Santa Monica : Two Slates Vie for Seats on College Board

October 12, 1986|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

Three candidates backed by Santa Monicans for Renters Rights are challenging four incumbents in the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees election Nov. 4.

Seeking reelection as "The Experienced College Team" are three-term board member Fred L. Beteta and two-term trustees James M. Bambrick, Carole L. Currey and Colin C. Petrie.

The Committee for a Quality College Board, headed by board member Anne Peters, is backing two of the three challengers: Carol E. Hetrick, an administrator at California State University, Los Angeles, and Pat Nichelson, chairman of religious studies at Cal State Northridge.

Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, which backed Peters' campaign two years ago, has endorsed her committee's two candidates, Hetrick and Nichelson. The group also has endorsed independent candidate Robert M. Neff, a 1985 graduate of Santa Monica College.

Hetrick and Nichelson are running for the first time. Neff was an unsuccessful candidate for the college board in 1983.

Differs With Incumbents

Peters, who is serving her second term on the college board, said she is backing new candidates because she differs with the incumbents on a number of issues. She said the board needs members such as Hetrick and Nichelson who have work experience in higher education.

At a candidates forum held recently by the Santa Monica League of Women Voters and the Santa Monica PTA Council, incumbents said their leadership and experience as trustees has helped Santa Monica College become one of the top community colleges in the state.

Beteta said the school is in such good shape in terms of finances, morale and student transfers to four-year universities that, in effect, "there are no issues at Santa Monica College."

But the challengers said new viewpoints and additional expertise are needed because the state is considering changes in its master plan for education that could have a major impact on community colleges.

Also, the challengers criticized the board's recent approval of cutbacks in the college's new child care center. They said the program merits a higher priority and should be given more time to get on its feet financially.

Board members who approved of the cutback said the center is not used enough by students to justify its cost.

Expenses Offset

The center's $76,000 operating expenses were offset by about $16,000 in parents' fees and a $15,000 donation from the Santa Monica College Patrons Assn., leaving a deficit of about $45,000, officials said. The trustees approved a plan reducing the center's hours so the program's annual deficit could be reduced to about $20,000 next year, they said.

The four incumbents said in interviews that although they differ among themselves on some issues, they decided to run together so they could share costs and consolidate their campaign against the challengers endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters Rights.

A campaign letter from Archie M. Morrison, chairman of the Committee to Reelect Beteta, Bambrick, Currey and Petrie, warned that the incumbents are "by no means a shoo-in."

In a reference to the renter group's endorsement of the challengers, Morrison added that "an organization that owes its existence strictly to Santa Monica City Hall issues, not educational issues, has endorsed and will strongly finance a slate of candidates to take over the board."

The seven candidates are running for four available seats. Their profiles:

Bambrick, 46, an attorney who is the chairman of the college board. He has served as a trustee since his election in 1979.

He also has been active in community organizations including Vista, the Ocean Park Community Center, the Red Cross, the Boys' Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

Bambrick said the major challenges facing the board are state financing issues and possible changes in California's higher-education master plan. The board also must find ways to provide adequate parking for the college, he said.

Beteta, 57, a retired engineer who was elected to the board in 1975. He said he has been involved in educational issues and opportunities for minorities for many years.

He cited the board's prompt investigation of possible racial or religious discrimination in the school's registered nursing program as evidence of the board's willingness to solve problems.

"We didn't wait, hoping that it was something that would go away or that we could hide under a rug," he said. Changes were made to eliminate any possible discrimination and a new director was appointed to head the program, he said.

Beteta said the board's leadership has contributed to the college's success in placing many of its students in four-year schools upon graduation. He said Santa Monica sends more transfer students to the University of California than any other community college in the state.

Currey, 50, a secretary who was elected in 1979.

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