March 8th is a big day for both the city and the Los Angeles County.

It’s Election Day.

To select the top candidates for the City Council and the Board of Education, some voters are in a frenzy. On the ballot this time around is a position rarely talked about–Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.

Currently, the board consists of no African Americans, but Black student enrollment for the district in 2009 is at 15.8 percent.

This time around two Africa American women are attempting to give the LACCB a face-lift.

Nicole Chase, a youth advocate. is making a first-time bid for political office. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, she has seen education transformed for the worse.

Nicole Chase, a youth advocate and consultant, is making a first-time bid for political office.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised in the San Fernando Valley, she has seen education transformed for the worse. In her experience with young people, Chase believes that more educational and supportive resources are being directed towards the elementary and middle-school levels, while high school student are graduating undereducated and unprepared for the transition into a college environment or vocation.

She wants to make sure that this generation of students isn’t lost and that they will have access to resources on the community college level that will help them succeed either through a transfer to a 4-year college, certification for vocational opportunity or an an associate’s degree.

Granted, she does not advocate taking away resources for early-stage education.

“Our students are being cut out of the game,” she commented. “We are unable to compete on a global level, African Americans and Latinos are being impacted the most with a completion rate of 22% or less.”

I want to open up the playing field for African Americans and all students. African Americans laid down their lives in a battle for “access to equal education.” We created these pathways, that so many others are taking advantage of, yet it feels like we as a community are not valuing the sacrifices that were made, by obtaining educational degrees at the levels with which we should be pursuing excellence.

She believes that because of disproportionate representation on the board, Black students are at a disadvantage.

Overall, Chase plans to reform the system by addressing the core curriculum issues, making administration more accessible to students and teachers, and establishing a better relationship between the Board of Trustees, students and the community. She also emphasized the importance of reforming the current budgetary system, funds from the $5.7 billion construction bonds have been wasted and misappropriated.

“You have a community of people, our taxpayers, who are irate because the system has been wasteful,” she said. “The system is corrupted. It is beyond flawed. When you have millions of dollars of waste, that’s corruption.”

In response to recent reports, Chase also believes the Board has been mishandling taxpayer’s funds for years, including building new campus facilities while there are no students to fill them, because the bonds are earmarked for construction only, and with budget cuts, LACCD, does not have the money to hire the staff necessary for building maintenance or instruction.

An increase in accountability across the board and accessibility regarding access to required courses, administration and to the board of Trustees is crucial,” she said. The American Federation of Teachers asked Nicole to step out of the race on five different occasions. The AFT chose not to support /endorse any of the four African American candidates for LACCD Board of Trustees.

Chase is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with more than 25 years experience working with youth and young adults in Los Angeles. She currently serves as the development and marketing consultant for the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando Valley. She on the ballot for seat No. 5.

More information on Chase can be found at www.nicolemchase.com. ral candidate, we extend our best wishes to Ms. Chase in any future endeavors.

Joyce Burrell Garcia, a product of the L.A. Community College system, has served in the South Central community in the Charles Drew Postgraduate Medical School, the Watts Health Foundation and the Fanon Research Development Center. She has also worked in the corporate sector with Coca-Cola Enterprises and the McDonald’s Corp.

She has taught on the university level in China for three years and is currently writing a book on higher education.

Since returning from Asia, Garcia has been on the campaign trail with the purpose of transforming the district.

“Someone asked me to look at the graduation rates in our community college district,” she explained, adding that graduation rates within the district are shameful. “I’m interested in using my academic research skills, collaborative skills and organization skills to create pilot programs…. I am not afraid of challenges and tackling issues.”

Garcia’s primary focus is on access to resources and information for students, transparency within the Board, working with the community, and providing better training, counseling, and academic plans for students.

“I think one major issue is graduation. It currently takes students twice as long to get an associate degree,” she said. “They should be able to complete everything within two years, not five. That is demoralizing and it doesn’t give credibility to our system.”

As a university professor, Garcia has been around the world working with students from diverse backgrounds. She says students deserve better access to resources, a stronger connection with administration, and the community needs to be more involved with the education process.

If she is elected, the first thing she plans to do is visit each campus throughout the district and open her ears to students and faculty, not only to better the relationship between the Board and students, but to also target key issues concerning those on campus.

The highly educated professional is running for seat No. 3.

The LACC District covers 882 square miles, from as far north as the San Fernando Valley to the southern tip of Long Beach.

Schools include L.A. Mission, Pierce, L.A. Valley, L.A. City, East L.A., L.A. Trade-Tech, West L.A., L.A. Southwest, and L.A. Harbor colleges.

As of fall 2009, over 140,000 students are enrolled in the system, 73.1 percent being part-time students. Over 30 percent of students enrolled are ages 20-24 and 36.3 percent plan to transfer to a higher-level institution. Thirty percent have vocational goals. Forty percent fall below the economic poverty line and 17 percent come from homes in which parents only received an elementary education.