The Los Rios Community College District this March faced the major task of closing their campuses and shifting more than 75,000 students to online classes soon after the COVID-19 situation arose in California.
David Sandino, an adjunct professor who taught law classes at several colleges such as Lincoln Law School and Santa Clara University, recalled his experience in distance teaching this year.
“It was a really tough time in education in trying to transition from in-person (classes) to online overnight, and I was one of the persons who had to deal with it,” he said.
This summer, Sandino taught an environmental quality law class online to students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“My students were in Las Vegas, and I was teaching from my house,” he said.
Sandino said it was ultimately a good experience for him and he understands the challenges for Los Rios college students. He’s now running for the Los Rios college district’s Trustee Area 4 seat. His opponents are Kelly Wilkerson and Katie Villegas.
This area covers communities in Davis, West Sacramento, and Elk Grove west of Highway 99.
Ruth Scribner vacated the Los Rios board’s Area 4 seat last year after serving for 16 years.
Along with teaching law classes, Sandino works as a water and energy attorney for the state. He previously served as a chief counsel for the California Department of Water Resources during the Schwarzenegger administration.
Sandino spoke with the Citizen during a Zoom meeting about his run for the Los Rios board.
“I wanted to combine my public service experience and my educational background, and this seemed like the perfect seat,” he said.
Sandino is a Merced native and he was a first-generation college student in his family. He noted his experience from attending community college classes while he was still in high school. Sandino went on to earn his Doctor of Law at Santa Clara University and his Master of Laws at King’s College, London.
“I’ve benefitted from community colleges, I’ve attended community colleges, and I’m familiar with the schools in this area,” he said. “I just thought I could make a difference.”
In his run for the Los Rios board, Sandino said that he’s focusing on how the college district can provide an effective education for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of what happens on the ground is with the faculty and the students; the board members are not teaching,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is provide guidance to make it work.”
Sandino noted that the Los Rios district is working on closing the “digital divide” by providing computers and online access to students who lack them.
“I’ll be supportive to make those programs work better and look for more ideas,” he said.
The candidate is also concerned over the college district’s budget next year when the pandemic’s impacts on state education funding will continue.
“I’m expecting considerably more stress as state budget numbers come in,” he said. “No one is expecting the state budget to be positive in going forward next year.
Sandino noted that he has a financial background from serving in the city of Davis’s Finance and Budget Commission.
“I’m interested in trying to engage in the budget as deeply as I can and trying to find solutions to protect education,” he said.
In his campaign, Sandino said that he is also interested in creating a close connection between the Elk Grove community and Cosumnes River College as well as that college’s Elk Grove Center.
While campaigning, Sandino said that he cannot meet voters by knocking on their doors anymore. He’s instead planning to visit people at parks and neighborhoods like Old Town Elk Grove to speak about his campaign.
“It’s not a super-effective way to campaign, but I enjoy it,” Sandino said.