SEASIDE — Incumbent Andrea Mazzarella and challenger Sara Meyer, candidates for the Clatsop Community College Board, shared many similar views in a Saturday candidate forum, albeit from different backgrounds.

They are running for Zone 2, Position 2, which covers Astoria and outlying neighborhoods.

Also at the forum was Karen Burke, a former nurse and instructor who is running unopposed for Zone 1, Position 1, covering much of the eastern portion of Clatsop County. The college’s two positions covering South County and Warrenton have no candidates and will likely be decided by write-in campaigns.

Mazzarella, 38, spent more than 20 years in the service industry before becoming a real estate agent and delving into community service. She was in the college’s Upward Bound high school enrichment program, used its Small Business Development Center when starting a small business and studies in its historic preservation program.

She was appointed to the college board in January 2018 to replace Patrick Wingard, and also serves on the Astoria Budget Committee. The May election is to fill out the remaining two years of Wingard’s term.

“I may not be considered an academic in some traditional senses, but I do understand how a community college not only builds a strong foundation for furthering your education, but also offers an opportunity to explore your creativity,” Mazzarella said at the forum, which was held at the Bob Chisholm Community Center and sponsored by Clatsop County Democrats.

Meyer, 74, came to Astoria in the 1970s with her husband, Chuck. She worked at the Tongue Point Job Corps Center and opened the Compleat Photographer with her husband in 1977, running it for 40 years.

She served on the Astoria School Board from 1976 to 1980 and the college board from 1996 to 2000. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon.

“I want to serve more,” Meyer said. “I’ve got the time now. I’ve got the experience.”

The college recently purchased the land it leased for the Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station, its career-technical campus at South Tongue Point. It is trying to gather $14 million from a variety of sources to pair with up to $8 million in matching state bonds to build a new maritime science center.

Asked how the college can get the money, Mazzarella focused on reaching out to companies that employ the mariners trained at the campus and looking at phasing in improvements to save money.

Meyer said donors to the Columbia River Maritime Museum should also be supportive of the expansion of maritime science education.

Both candidates agreed on the need to empower staff, promote the importance of higher education and strengthen connections with K-12 students.

Meyer touted her retired status as providing more time to serve on the college board, while Mazzarella said she has invested significant time in learning about the organization and wants to delve deeper.

Burke made a call at the end of the forum for residents interested in serving as Warrenton and South County representatives on the college board.

“Please consider thinking about who might serve and serve us well, because we do need a fully functioning team to be a good board,” she said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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