By Taylor Saugstad
Among the list of candidates San Luis Obispo County residents will vote for on Nov. 8 includes who will fill the open seat on Cuesta College’s Board of Trustees and help to shape the future of the community college.
The two contenders for the Fifth District vacancy left by Dick Hitchman are Mary Strobridge and George E. Galvan, both longtime residents of Atascadero.
The election comes as the Board of Trustees must deal with critical issues that will affect students, faculty and staff hiring, potential curriculum changes, including budget shortfalls, and on-going construction projects funded by Measure L.
The Fifth District consists of Atascadero, Templeton, Santa Margarita, California Valley, Creston, portions of San Luis Obispo, and Cal Poly.
The candidates, both Cuesta College alumni, come with strong educational and administrative backgrounds.
Mary Strobridge is a teacher at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel and has lived with her family in Atascadero since 1981.
She attended Cuesta College and graduated from Cal Poly with teaching credentials and a Master’s Degree in Education.
“It’s the success and achievement of the students that is the first and foremost responsibility of a board member and school board as a whole,” Strobridge said.
As well as being a teacher, Strobridge is currently the SLO County Director for the California Teachers Association and a CTA State Council member on the Channel Islands Service Center Council.
Strobridge, who was recognized as a California Mentor Teacher and Teacher of the Year, has worked at Lillian Larsen Elementary for 28 years and previously as an adjunct professor for the University of La Verne for six years.
Her goals for Cuesta are to ensure students get an outstanding education, to attract and retain the best faculty and staff possible, and to maintain the fiscal stability for the college.
“Being a veteran educator, I understand the needs, frustrations, positives and negatives of schools in California,” Strobridge said. “With my experience and time in education and working with the teachers’ union, I can see both sides of the picture, from the faculty’s and boards’ viewpoints.”
Strobridge has been endorsed by the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers, the Cuesta College Classified United Employees, Senator William Monning, Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 639 AFL/CIO, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 403, the Atascadero Democratic Club, and the SLO County Democratic Party.
George Galvan has been an Atascadero resident since 1977 and a father of two. He retired as a 1st Sergeant after 24 years with the US Marines and later served as an SLO County Deputy Sheriff for over 18 years.
During his years as a sheriff’s deputy, he graduated from Cuesta College with his associate degree and later received his bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State University on the Cal Poly campus.
“I owe Cuesta College so much [and] that I have supported Cuesta as much as I can and hope to continue to do so,” Galvan said.
Currently Galvan is the Chairman of the California Men’s Colony Citizen’s Advisory Committee and a member of the Local Advisory Group for Grizzly Academy.In 2000, he was elected to the Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees and served for 13 years.
He was selected as one of the 2013 Cuesta Community College District Honored Alumni.
Galvan wants to help Cuesta maintain the standing it has built in the community and insure Cuesta provides the best education to its students.
Some of the challenges he sees in Cuesta’s future are the closure of Diablo Canyon, the fiscal consequences if Proposition 55 doesn’t pass, and a large increase Cuesta will need to fund in the teachers’ retirement program in the next year.
“I feel that with my experience as a former AUSD school board trustee that i will be able to make a contribution to Cuesta in helping the school carry out the mission of the school,” Galvan said.
He has received endorsements from Dr. Julian Crocker, former SLO County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Frank Martinez, former President Superintendent of Cuesta College, the AUSD Classified Employee Association, and the SLO County Republican Party.