2020 City College Questionnaire

Potrero Hill Democratic Club

City College Board Responses

We asked every candidate to respond to our questionnaire: We received responses from Anita Martinez, Aliya Chisti, Shanell Williams (incumbent), Han Zou, Tom Temprano (incumbent), and Alan Wong. They are eligible for endorsement and are on the ballot sent to members.

Candidate name: Anita Martinez

Web site: anitamartinezforcollegeboard.com

Received July 29

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.

I’m a grassroots activist from my college days and a retired CCSF teacher, Dean of Students, and Vice Chancellor of Instruction. I was elected AFT 2121 president three times; I was also elected president of the Academic Senate locally and an officer of the statewide organization. I was Language Arts Dean, Skyline College, and Vice President of Student Learning, College of Marin. I can read and balance budgets; I’m experienced in policy proposal/approval; I’ve participated in the selection of chancellors. These are the three primary responsibilities of the Board: monitor and balance the budget; propose and approve policy; and hire, supervise, and fire a chancellor.   

I worked at City College for 28 years; I’m unique among the other candidates in that regard. I was prompted to run by my peers, students, and teachers who have been organizing around issues facing City College since the unfair 2012 attack on City College’s accreditation. My working knowledge, experience, and wisdom acquired by a career in teaching and learning in community colleges enable me to bring informed insights to the Board to address the challenges and inspire a vision of what the college can be.

For more information, please see my website:  anitamartinezforcollegboard.com 

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

The state takeover (2012-2017) undermined CCSF’s leadership. State appointed chancellors and the last chancellor sought to downsize the college and change its mission. I will work to bring the college back to its community college roots and to help select the next permanent chancellor true to those missions.

The budget has a structural deficit it’s paying in installments to the State Chancellor’s Office for the next 7-8 years but it still shows as a deficit. The budget was overspent for three years under the past chancellor. I will advocate for a chancellor and a chief budget officer who can get the budget more in balance through inclusive planning. I’m committed to having the Workforce Education and Recovery Fund and Proposition 15, aka Schools and Communities First, passed to generate more revenue. I will also work to support more wealth taxes.

We need to improve student access and success, especially for Black and Brown students by improving the application and registration systems and by better supporting and enhancing programs developed by Black and Brown employees to improve outcomes.  After Proposition 16 passes, we must direct the Chancellor to develop and implement an Affirmative Action plan to diversity the faculty.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

The state takeover (2012-2017) undermined CCSF’s leadership. State appointed chancellors and the last chancellor sought to downsize the college and change its mission. I will work to bring the college back to its community college roots and to help select the next permanent chancellor true to those missions.

The budget has a structural deficit it’s paying in installments to the State Chancellor’s Office for the next 7-8 years but it still shows as a deficit. The budget was overspent for three years under the past chancellor. I will advocate for a chancellor and a chief budget officer who can get the budget more in balance through inclusive planning. I’m committed to having the Workforce Education and Recovery Fund and Proposition 15, aka Schools and Communities First, passed to generate more revenue. I will also work to support more wealth taxes.

We need to improve student access and success, especially for Black and Brown students by improving the application and registration systems and by better supporting and enhancing programs developed by Black and Brown employees to improve outcomes.  After Proposition 16 passes, we must direct the Chancellor to develop and implement an Affirmative Action plan to diversity the faculty.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)?

I support all three of them and will vote yes.

Candidate name: Aliya Chisti

Web site: www.aliyachisti.org

Received July 30

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.

Growing up as a low-income student, I learned early on in my life how educational institutions

can improve life outcomes and have worked to improve our educational systems so that they can serve underrepresented students to achieve greater opportunities. I believe CCSF transforms lives because it breaks down barriers to opportunity for individuals.

I have over a decade of experience as an educator, working in schools, or on policies that impact schools. As a legislative aide to former Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen, I drafted the “Ban the Box” legislation to prohibit the use of criminal-justice information on applications for private colleges in San Francisco, making SF the first in the nation to do so. While pursuing my MA in Education Policy from Columbia University, I served as a student senator and developed a pro-diversity admissions policy. My thesis paper also focused on the burden of student debt. As a Fulbright Scholar in North Macedonia, I served as an ESL teacher and also drafted a policy paper analyzing the failure of top-down approaches in advancing higher education reform. Currently, I oversee the Free City College Program at the Department of Children Youth and Their Families and led the successful execution of the ten-year MOU for the Free City Program.

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

The top three issues facing City College of San Francisco are: a lack of adequate funding, a lack of transparency in decision-making processes, and a stubborn opportunity gap for historically underrepresented student populations.

In addition to advocating for additional revenue streams through a wealth tax, I will also work to address the budget crisis by prioritizing stronger outreach strategy to be put in place to grow enrollment at the college to 32,000 Full-Time Equivalent Status, which will then lead to a baseline funding level by the state. I will advocate for greater transparency in the budget process through a financial controller that can support stronger internal controls, town halls, and delivery of budget information using user-friendly platforms. Third, based on data collected in 2014, 49% of CCSF students said that their greatest barrier to student success was financial resources. To address the opportunity gap at CCSF, I will advocate for policies that directly support students, especially historically underrepresented students, by addressing food and housing insecurity, cost of books, transportation, and investing in other services key for student success, including case management and mentorship programs.

My policy platform includes to establish an emergency grant program for students, a jobs guarantee program that includes clear career pathways, and to grow free city so that we can expand access to undocumented and homeless students.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

Rebuilding, restoring trust, and creating greater cohesion at the College begins by increasing transparency and strengthening communication amongst the Board, Chancellor, Administration, faculty, student bodies, and the community. Collectively, the Board needs to work with administration, faculty, and students to understand the College’s strengths and shortcomings, agree on a path forward, and present a gap analysis to City Hall so that they can better understand how CCSF is tasked with multiple missions without adequate resources to support our students so that they can better understand how CCSF benefits our community. We need to then collectively advocate at the state and federal level for greater resources for our college. 

The Board’s role should be to both advocate for the needs of CCSF with elected leaders, while also serving in oversight and advisement to the CCSF administration.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)?

I support all three of these measures. Split roll reform will bring in much needed dollars, approximately 40 percent of which will go to schools and community colleges. Ending the ban on affirmative action is long overdue. In a moment where we as a society are reckoning with the racist history and policies in our country, we must commit to developing policies that will bring about racial justice. Affirmative Action is one of many policies we must implement. I am a firm advocate for youth voice and youth power. The more opportunities we can give our youth to participate in our democracy, the better our democracy will be. I support this proposition and other legislation and or policy to lower the voting age.

Candidate name: Shanell Williams

Web site: www.shanellwilliams.org

Received July 31

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.

I currently serve as President of the Board of Trustees at City College, as a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and as a member of the Prop C Oversight Committee. I was elected to City College Board in 2016 and prior to being elected I was co-founder and a lead organizer for the Save City College Coalition during the accreditation crisis. I have eight years of service to City College of San Francisco. In addition to serving on the board I am employed with the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative as Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships to reduce disparities in pregnancy and birth for Black, Brown and API women in San Francisco, Oakland and Fresno. I am a native San Franciscan, a product of all public schools which includes SFUSD and City College. My father was a construction laborer and worked on many building projects in the City and my mother was a nursing assistant. I experienced trauma and violence in my community and at home like many students who are served by City College and entered the foster care and juvenile justice system. I took my first course at City College in 2002 after exiting the system because it was the only option to pursue higher education. I have been an advocate and organizer in the Bay Area over the past 20 years and have worked with numerous labor and non-profit organizations. l have the endorsement of the Mayor, all members of the Board of Supervisors, my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, the Tenants Union and Sierra Club.

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

Loss of revenue due to drop in enrollment over the years and COVID-19: we have been advocating at the local, state and federal level for additional funding in partnership with our labor partners and elected leaders. We also need to make tough decisions to align our expenditures with our revenues.

Stabilizing administrative leadership: we just completed hiring for a very well respected community college leader to serve as interim Chancellor for the next year. This will help City College improve our systems, attract a permanent Chancellor and experience leadership for our fiscal, facilities and student affairs areas

Preserving programs and classes to ensure we can adequately serve the community during the recession: we need to identify with our college community strategies such as strategic partnerships for preserving what will be in demand programs for students to retrain during this recession such as ESL, Nursing, Fire Science, Biotechnology, etc.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

The Board is responsible for setting policy in the best interest of the institution as a whole and all San Franciscans. The Chancellor is responsible for implementing board policies with the administration. The Board is also the external champion for the college and work with directly with leadership in City Hall, the State and federal government to advance our mission and advocate for the needs of the institution. The faculty departments or department work with the administration based on the budget allocations to develop the class schedule. The academic senate is responsible for setting academic policy at the college. The proper interplay is a respect for each other’s role and collegial consultation which takes place through out mandated participatory governance process.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)?

I strongly support Proposition 15, 16 and 18. In terms of Prop 16 I believe that we are at a time in our country with Black Lives Matter where the long-standing structural and institutional racism is becoming visible and mainstream. I support Prop 18 because as I started at the Human Rights Commission at 15 years old and served with the San Francisco Youth Commission— I know first hand the power of youth civic engagement. Schools and Communities First (Prop 15) will provide critical revenue for community colleges across the State during this time of recession.

Candidate name: Han Zou

Web site: hanforsf.com
Received July 31

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.
I immigrated to the United States from China when I was 6 years old and I’m proud as a first generation Chinese immigrant to have learned English in our public school system. My mother taught me how to say “hello” and “bathroom” before putting me on the school bus, and sending me to my first day of school. I’ve dedicated my entire career to working with Chinese children and families and working to bridge the gap between Black, Brown, and API communities.

At the Asian Law Caucus I worked to bring services to undocumented children, students and families as well as to incarcerated immigrants. As the Executive Director of the Democratic Party I worked to bring the Chinese, Latino and Black communities into the Democratic Party and staffed the Committee to Develop the Black Agenda. As a legislative Aide for Supervisor Haney’s District 6 office I’ve been focused on bridging the gap between Chinese and Filiipino children and families and city services.

As a trustee I want to bring my experience working with immigrant families to make sure that post-pandemic, the immigrant and minority families who’ve been most affected by the shut down, can use City College as an opportunity to help change careers and learn new skills in the new economy.

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

The top three issues facing CCSF are funding, management, and student enrollment and achievement. The Board of Trustees needs to be laser focused on ensuring that City College can survive this pandemic and be a central part of the City’s recovery efforts. I will fight for any revenue measures to support CCSF and ensure it’s financial solvency.

From talking to students and faculty that there are serious concerns about the management of CCSF. There needs to be more transparency in how decisions are made within the Administration and the process needs to be accessible to the people it serves. As Trustee, I will bring more scrutiny to those in the decision making seats and create a budget process that students and faculty can participate in without needing an economics degree to understand what’s happening.

Finally, we can’t have a school if we don’t have students. CCSF enrollment has dropped dramatically from it’s heyday and with the new funding formula from the state, there is an even greater need to increase enrollment and keep students on track in the classroom. This means CCSF needs to do more to support our immigrants and minority students outside the classroom with greater wrap-around services, students and teacher housing, and a more diverse staff that represents a student population that’s over 30% API, and nearly 30% Latino.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

The history of the relationship between the Board, Administration, faculty and the City has not always been what it should be and has at times been ugly. Historically, any times of challenge for the college have been associated with strained relationships between the Chancellor, the City, the administration and the Board. CCSF has survived largely because the residents of San Francisco continue to love the  institution and what it represents. Ideally, the interplay should be one that is rooted in transparency, honesty, responsibility and one that allows for negotiation when discourse exists. As Trustee, I would hope to foster constructive joint thought and action because the end goal should be the same for each of these entities i.e. to see City College thrive and maintain its reputation as a beacon of hope for the community. CCSF is a really critical institution for the city of San Francisco.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)? 

● California Proposition 15 YES 

● California Proposition 16 YES 

● California Proposition 18 YES

Candidate name: Tom Temprano

Web site: www.tomtemprano.com

Received July 31

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.

As the son of a public school teacher and as a public school student from elementary school through college, I know just how important it is to have access to quality well- funded public education. Community college classes helped me get back on track when I was sick as a teenager and had to drop out of school, ultimately allowing me to finish high school and move to San Francisco to enroll in San Francisco State University. In San Francisco, like so many others, I was inspired by people like Harvey Milk and Tom Ammiano to jump into activism and became President of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club where I made sure that the club was the first LGBT organization to join the Save City College Coalition and fight alongside faculty to keep our accreditation.

These experiences inspired me to run for the Board of Trustees in 2015 and again in 2016 when, with the Potrero Hill Democratic Club’s support, I was elected to a 4-year term and became San Francisco’s youngest elected official. During my time on the Board, we have had a number of successes, including securing full funding for the Free City program for the next 10 years, negotiating contracts that raised faculty and classified staff salaries, having our accreditation rightly reaffirmed for 7 years, passing an $845 million bond to rebuild our dilapidated classrooms and crafting the Workforce Education and Recovery Fund (WERF) to provide stable funding from the City to retain important classes for the College and the community are among my proudest moments as a Trustee.

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

The biggest issue facing City College is the severe funding cuts we have experienced from the State. Amid COVID-19 it’s unconscionable that the State is poised to repeat the mistakes of the great recession and further cut funding for public education at the time our community needs us the most. I have been working with College Stakeholders and Supervisor Mar to create the WERF to provide stable funding to City College to preserve many of our core offerings including non-credit programs, ESL, diversity studies and workforce training. I have also been actively lobbying our local, state and Federal officials to adequately fund community colleges.

Another major issue facing City College is the need to continue to put in place support services that protect and lift up our most marginalized students. In 2017, I worked with students and advocates to secure $700,000 to support undocumented students, and create City DREAM, a resource center for undocumented students This initiative supporting undocumented students is an example of the work I’ve done and will continue to do to support our marginalized students.

A third major issue facing City College is the need to upgrade dilapidated facilities and reinvest in campuses in the parts of San Francisco where communities need City College the most. I was a core part of the campaign team for Proposition A, which was passed this past March and will give us $845 million to begin rebuilding the college’s critical infrastructure. As part of this effort we have also begun a major upgrade to our Evans Center in the Bayview to provide a world-class facility for job training programs for residents of the neighborhood.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

I believe that the Board’s proper role in interacting with all of the internal stakeholders at the College, including those listed but also (and most importantly) our students, is to consult with them regularly to have a good grasp on what’s happening day to day at the College but especially when challenging decisions are faced. As important decisions have come before the Board, I have consulted with leadership in our unions, our faculty and classified senates, our administration and our students about how to ensure that I always hear from the voices of the people who work and study at the College.

I believe that the proper role of the Board at City Hall is to ensure that important stakeholders are aware of the work happening at the City College and any important issues. I also believe that the role of the Board of Trustees is to advocate on behalf of the College at City Hall, which I was proud to do as part of the team working on negotiating the successful MOU with the City for the Free City program and have been doing as we craft the WERF.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)?

I strongly support all of these California Propositions. I worked my colleagues on the Board of Trustees to put City College on record in support of Proposition 15, which would generate 10s of millions of desperately needed funding for City College to help us preserve important classes and student support services. Prop 209 pushed generations of black and brown students out of higher education in

California and it has to go. I am very proud to have also worked with my colleagues to have City College officially endorse Prop 16 and have been actively campaigning to support it and restore affirmative action in California.

From ending our climate crisis to standing up for racial justice, our youth are leading the most important movements in our world and they absolutely deserve to have a say in our elections. I support Prop 18 and also President Norman Yee’s local ballot initiative to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in municipal elections.

Candidate name: Alan Wong

Web site: www.votealanwong.com

Please write a brief response (≤200 words) to each question.

1. Please describe your qualifications for this office.

My entire family attended City College, including myself, and all of our lives have all been transformed by it. When my father immigrated to San Francisco, he was laid off from his factory job. While my father attended City College to learn English, he also enrolled in the College’s Chinatown culinary program, which allowed him to become a Local 2 union hotel cook at the Grand Hyatt and the sole provider of my family for two decades. The City College classes I took as a teenager with a low-income tuition waiver helped me graduate from UCSD when I was 19-years-old.

In my current work as Education Policy Advisor for Supervisor Mar, I helped draft and advance the ‘Free City College’ legislation at the Board of Supervisors to secure a decade of Free City College. In partnership with City College, Sunset nonprofits, and local schools, I expanded City College into the Sunset District. I worked with students, AFT Local 2121, college trustees, administrators, and stakeholders to draft the Workforce Education and Recovery Fund in order to provide job training for workers, promote economic recovery, bolster student wraparound services, and restore City College programs that have been impacted by declining state funding.

2. What are the top three issues facing CCSF, and what will you do about those issues?

1. Workforce Development

a. Job Centers – I will advocate for Job Centers on campuses by putting underutilized CCSF facilities to use. CCSF will provide space to workforce nonprofits that will enroll, retain, and hire students.

b. Job Pipelines – I will promote partnerships with employers and workforce nonprofits.

2. Equity

a. Student Services – I will be a champion for wraparound services supporting retention and direct support for basic student needs such as resource centers, tutoring, counseling, childcare, rental assistance, counseling, and transportation.

b. Diversity – I will ensure that CCSF has a diverse workforce reflecting the gender, diversity, language, and cultural background of its students.

c. Bayview-Hunters Point – Our Southeastern neighborhoods have not been prioritized. I will support a needs assessment and allocate needed classes to the neighborhood campuses.

3. Fiscal Oversight and Transparency

a. Mandatory Budget Updates – I will require CCSF administration to publicly report budget updates at every regular Trustee meeting.

b. Revenue – I will promote the creation of nonprofit and community-serving partnerships to maximize the use of existing CCSF facilities to serve the public and generate revenue.

c. Independent Oversight – I will support investing in fiscal oversight, such as a budget auditor. Independent fiscal oversight will allow Trustees and the public to have information on the fiscal health of the College.

3. How do you see the proper interplay between the Board, the Administration, the faculty departments/faculty senate, and City Hall?

I have worked on multiple projects that involve the interplay between all the parties mentioned, including: securing Free City College for the next decade, expanding City College into the Sunset, working with the ESL Department to create an ESL interpreter certificate program to develop a workforce pipeline into Office of Civic Engagement Language Bank, and drafting and advancing the City College Workforce Education and Recovery Fund.

The Board of Trustees is the governing board for City College and has the responsibility to advocate for the interests of the College externally and balance the competing needs of all stakeholders. As Trustee, I would continue the principle of shared governance and fairly weigh the competing needs of internal stakeholders (students, faculty, classified staff, administrators) at the College. Externally, I would strongly advocate for the interests of the College and stakeholders by advocating for local, state, and federal funding. I would also continue the inter-organizational collaboration and coalitions I have a record of success in. The collaborative approach I have taken has helped enable my work to gain common ground around Free City College, secure rent-free facilities for City College Sunset, and build a strong coalition for the Workforce Education and Recovery Fund.

4. What is your position on California Propositions 15 (split roll) , 16 (ending the ban on affirmative action) and 18 (allowing 17-year olds to vote in a primary or special election as long as they’re 18 by the general election)?

I support California Proposition 15, Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative (2020).

I support California Proposition 16, Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment (2020).

I support California Proposition 18, Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment (2020).

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