Three spots on the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees are up for grabs Nov. 3. Two incumbents are running, but area four sees two new candidates this year.
The News-Press contacted all six candidates and received a response from three.
ROBERT MILLER, INCUMBENT, AREA TWO
“I seek re-election to represent Goleta on the SBCC Board of Trustees because community colleges perform a critical role in reversing the widening equity, wage and achievement gaps in this country,” Robert Miller said in his candidate statement. “And I want to help SBCC do its part.”
He was elected president of the Board of Trustees twice and led the search for a new superintendent in 2019. He received backlash for removing the Pledge of Allegiance from board meetings and reinstating it about a month later.
He is involved in the community as a volunteer mediator for the Santa Barbara Superior Court. He was part of the Goleta Planning Commission from 2017 until this summer and was president of his neighborhood’s homeowner’s association.
He was a lawyer for 31 years. Before then, he served in the Peace Corps, was a Congressional assistant and worked as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Refugee Affairs.
He has one donation recorded. It was from the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County and exceeded the $200 limit, according to a financial statement published on the SBCC website; the check was returned.
RONALD LIECHTI, AREA TWO
Ronald Liechti joined the race after community members asked him to consider running. Incumbent Robert Miller was running unopposed at the time.
“Our democracy is under-supported when voters don’t have a choice. I had a sense of civic duty to run,” he said.
He has worked in finance for 35 years and helps government officials budget large sums of money. He says he can help the board make sound financial decisions after COVID-19’s budgetary hit.
“I have an in-depth knowledge of budgets and publicly-funded institutions,” he said. “I’d love to use that experience and skills to help during this time.”
He has lived in the area for over 30 years. His wife and his son both have SBCC degrees, and his daughter plans to dual-enroll with her high school program.
VERONICA GALLARDO, INCUMBENT, AREA THREE
Veronica Gallardo has been a trustee member for eight years and is an alumna of SBCC. She is a teacher at Roosevelt Elementary school.
“Because I’m a public school teacher, I’ve really seen this work as an extension of something I’ve already done,” she said in a News-Press interview. “I’ve always been an advocate for providing resources to parents.”
She opened Reading Literacy Specialists during the pandemic to address unequal access. She hopes to see parents at SBCC and would like to see more literacy across family members.
“This idea of education as a vehicle for upward mobility is something I’ve really dedicated my time to,” she said.
She wants to help create an equitable environment for local families and believes higher education is a good tool.
ERIN GUEREÑA, AREA THREE
Erin Guereña owns and operates Haven Barber and Shop with her husband. She is an alumna of SBCC where she learned about business and entrepreneurship.
She is an advocate of the SBCC Promise Program and hopes to see it expanded, including giving learning opportunities to those who’ve lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has been endorsed by many individuals and organizations, like the Santa Barbara Young Democrats and Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee. She has a long list of donations as well.
“SBCC is an invaluable community resource and I am committed to improving the programs and services that enable student achievement and equitable access,” she said in her candidate statement.
CELESTE BARBER, AREA FOUR
“The great thing about a community college is that its doors are open for everyone. They don’t have to meet our expectations, we have to meet their needs,” Celeste Barber said in a News-Press interview.
She taught as an English professor at SBCC for 20 years. Her work establishing the Good Books program earned her a nomination for the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education (‘14-15).
She’s also received Santa Barbara County Woman of the Year (‘93-94) for establishing “Holly House,” a home for women recovering from drug addiction and their children.
She gained national attention for speaking at a board of trustees meeting protesting the decision to remove the Pledge of Allegiance. She told the News-Press that the issue was beyond the pledge; she wanted free speech and hoped to encourage open that value on SBCC’s campus.
“One of the important reasons I’m running is because I want politics taken out of education,” she said. “I think what politics does is separate people, and the whole point of a college is to join together. Let’s work on the job of educating our citizens.”
DR. ANNA EVERETT, AREA FOUR
“I will work hard to ensure that the College provides a welcoming climate for all students regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation,” Dr. Anna Everett said in her candidate statement. “I am convinced that I am right for the Trustee position because I am the embodiment of City College’s public educational mission.”
She serves as an emeritus professor, department chair, center director and the interim associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity and academic policy at UCSB.
She says her experience in administration and problem solving will allow her to tackle racist incidents on campus.
She was involved in UCSB’s Chancellor’s Budget Strategy Committee and Stanford University’s Major Gifts’ department. She wants to use this experience to help financial decisions.