In a race that is too close to call, just under 300 votes separated the first and second place candidates in the race for the Contra Costa Community College District board Ward 2 seat. With all precincts reporting, challenger Tom Cleveland slightly edged incumbent Tomi Van de Brooke and Vicki Gordon, however as many as 20 percent of vote by mail ballots have yet to be counted. There was no such suspense in Ward 5, where Greg Enholm appeared to soundly defeat De'Shawn Woolridge and Daniel Borsuk.

Ward 2 covers Walnut Creek, Lamorinda and parts of West County, while Ward 5 covers East County.

The six candidates vying for two Contra Costa Community College District board seats face the same challenges other education trustees face -- chief among them, how to deal with funding deficiencies.

The district -- including Diablo Valley, Los Medanos and Contra Costa colleges, and two satellite campuses in San Ramon and Brentwood -- will lose about $9 million if Proposition 30 fails. The colleges, which serve about 62,000 students each year, also pin their hopes on Measure A, an $11-per-parcel tax that would generate about $4 million a year for the community colleges. That measure was losing in early returns.

The new board will also be charged with selecting a new chancellor to replace Helen Benjamin, who is nearing retirement.

In Ward 2, Van de Brooke is running for her third term against Saint Mary's College professor Cleveland and former Martinez school board member Gordon. Van de Brooke, who ran unsuccessfully in June for a Contra Costa County supervisor's seat, has been a community college district trustee since 2005 and touted the board's fiscal prudence to build a reserve upward of 23 percent.

Gordon, a former middle school teacher, hopes to boost the district's vocation and apprenticeship programs, and find money through grants, energy savings and consolidation of services.

Cleveland, a CPA who has audited Bay Area community colleges, wants to find innovative ways to expand class availability, such as more night classes, online courses and hybrid online-classroom courses.

Trustee Robert Calone is not running for re-election for Ward 5, which represents the East County. Three candidates are running for the four-year post -- trade publication editor Borsuk, Heald College professor Enholm and education program analyst Woolridge.

Borsuk, who served on the Contra Costa County Board of Education for 20 years, from 1990 to 2010, said he would find public, private and nonprofit funding if elected, and then tackle labor issues.

Enholm wants to turn the Brentwood satellite facility into a full-fledged community college to give East County residents a 110-acre campus.

Woolridge hopes to integrate and align courses between high school students and the district, and start a digital textbook program and modify the existing Textbook on Reserve Program to save students and their parents money.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.