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Former Judge David Finkel to Step Down from Santa Monica College Trustee Board

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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 10, 2014 -- Retired judge David Finkel will step down from the Santa Monica Board of Trustees Tuesday after almost a decade due to “health problems," officials said.

The long-time Santa Monica resident and former City Councilmember announced to the board earlier this week that he would leave the elected position he has held since 2006.

“I regret having to do it,” Finkel told The Lookout Thursday. “I love the college.”

However, he said that “medical problems” make it difficult for him to continue serving on the seven-person board.

Finkel will officially step down on January 14. According to College officials, the Board will appoint Finkel’s replacement at its February 4 meeting.

Finkel’s decision, which he announced to the Board earlier this week in a letter, came as a surprise to some of his colleagues.

“The SMC Board of Trustees recently learned of Judge Finkel's decision to retire,” Board Chair Dr. Susan Aminoff told The Lookout.

“The work of the Board has been greatly enhanced by his dedication to students and his expertise in so many areas of education policy,” she said.

Aminoff added that Finkel has “assured us that he will remain an active member of the SMC community.”

Others in the community also celebrated Finkel’s work.

“I love the guy,” said Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Boardmember Ben Allen. “He's been a devoted to public servant. He's sharp, he's committed, he's progressive.”

Over the years, Finkel said that he has seen the once-contentious relationship between the bayside city’s three major political bodies -- the City Council, the School Board and the College Board -- change dramatically.

When he was on the City Council in the late 1980s, “there was always bad blood between the City, the School Board and the College.”

The three bodies now work much more collaboratively, a political reality he likes to think he helped bring about.

Allen agrees. “I hope we continue his legacy in the area (of) collaboration,” Allen said.

"Our community owes him a lot," Allen said. "He's put his tremendous personal and professional skills to work for the community. He’s a good, good man.”

Finkel, who is married to local artist and activist Bruria Finkel, retired from his work as a judge in 2002.

Before being elected to the Board of Trustees, Finkel worked as an adjunct professor of political science at SMC.

“Serving the College with you has been a rich and rewarding experience for me,” Finkel said in an official statement Thursday. “I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the college community for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is the most democratic and creative institution in Santa Monica and Malibu.”

Among the work Finkel -- and his colleagues -- did while on the Board is the vote to put Measure AA on the ballot.

Approved by voters in 2008, the ballot measure provided $295 million for major overhauls to campus facilities, including replacing the school’s stadium.

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