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Local Elections : Morale, Ethnic Split Keys to College Races


Low teacher morale, high enrollments and an Anglo-Latino political split are some of the issues dominating Board of Trustee election races in three San Gabriel Valley community college districts.

After 85% of instructors surveyed at Citrus Community College District in Glendora said morale had declined, the issue has come to dominate the two races in the 10,000-student district, which encompasses Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia, Duarte and Claremont.

In Azusa, Area No. 1, seven-year incumbent Gary Woods, 45, of Azusa, an attorney and law professor at Pasadena City College, blames labor negotiations for low morale. The challengers, Armando Camarena and Lawrence Sowers, said board members are out of touch with the district's teachers.

Camarena, 42, of Azusa, is an account executive and former Azusa city councilman. Sowers is a research scientist at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte and a former faculty member at Duke and Harvard universities.

In Duarte, Area No. 2, board President Edward Ortel, 50, of Duarte, a Pasadena City College business professor and a 20-year board member, is seeking reelection. He blames low morale on the lack of state funds for the last two years.

His opponent, Angelo Diaz, a printer from Duarte, has not appeared at candidate forums.

Voters in the 21,000-student Pasadena Area Community College District, encompassing La Canada Flintridge, Altadena, Pasadena, San Marino and South Pasadena, will cast ballots in four races, three of them uncontested, to fill vacancies on the seven-member board.

The contested race is in Area 5, which comprises South Pasadena and San Marino.

Incumbent Warren Weber, 59, of San Marino, a retired businessman with 12 years on the board, faces challenger Robert Almanza, 58, of San Marino, dean of academic affairs at East Los Angeles College. Almanza has said Weber's failure to promote the college locally has caused high enrollments of Los Angeles-area residents, but Weber said the enrollments merely indicate strong course offerings.

In the Rio Hondo Community College District, where 12,000 students attend classes in Whittier, voters in El Monte, South El Monte, Pico Rivera, Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, are watching a politically charged race. Two Latino board members not up for election, Bill Hernandez and Ralph Pacheco, are supporting candidates in three races, hoping to gain a board majority.

In El Monte, Area 1, the two are backing attorney David Flores, 33, of El Monte, a contract negotiator with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, against board President Hilda Solis, 32, of El Monte. Solis is director of a nonprofit educational program for college-bound high school students.

Also running is Elizabeth Van Note, 49, of El Monte, director of administrative services with the city of Bell and a former Rio Hondo board member in 1979, who said she is independent of the board's political split.

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