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Incumbents Win in College, School Board Races; Bond Approved

By Susan Reines and Olin Ericksen
Staff Writers

November 3 -- Despite losing a key endorsement and facing a faculty campaign to unseat her, incumbent chair Margaret Quinones narrowly retained a spot on the College Board of Trustees.

With nearly 13,000 votes cast for Quinones, Governor Arnold Schwarznegger’s appointee to the powerful State Community College Board managed to claim the third and final spot in the closely contested Santa Monica College Board race.

Susan Aminoff, the top vote getter with over 19,000 votes, and Rob Rader, who ranked second with nearly 15,000 votes, were part of a faculty backed slate that denounced the school's administration and Quinones -- the only incumbent in the race -- for financial decisions in the past two years.

"I'm looking forward to mending all kinds of fences," said Aminoff, a Los Angeles community college professor. "I think we can do that."

School faculty supported candidates Aminoff, Rader and Rent Control Board member Doug Willis -- who placed fourth -- after the college trustees voted to cut eight vocational programs when faced with state budget reductions.

Quinones -- who for the first time failed to win the endorsement of the powerful Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights -- said she was thankful that voters reelected her.

"I'm real happy I kept my seat,” Quinones said. “I think that the college is still in need of support and I think that that says a lot.”

Despite the divisive nature of the race, SMC President Piedad F. Robertson downplayed the controversy at the College.

"There's not a rift (between faculty and the administration), but there is tension around,” Robertson said. “If I had all the money in the world, I would make sure they were among the top paid faculty."

As early returns showed Quinones fighting to claim a spot on the board, Robertson lamented that the loss of Quinones could result in less clout for the local college in Sacramento.

In a related election, Measure S, the $135 million Santa Monica College bond to build facilities and purchase park land, won with 23,744 votes, or 58 percent of the vote. To be approved, the measure required 55 percent of the vote.

In the race for three open School Board seats, the two incumbents -- Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez – held on to their seats with 21,731 and 21,327 votes respectively. Kathy Wisnicki, the only Malibu resident in the race, finished third with 20,396 votes.

Challenger Ana Jara, a Pico Neighborhood activist, fell short with 17,423 votes.
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