Board of Trustee incumbents challenged

Josa Lamont | Features Editor

Nov. 3, 2014

Elections for Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees are Nov. 4, and they represent the first election for Areas 2, 4 and 5 to implement the new area mapping by board members Virginia Blumenthal and Mary Figueroa. Trustees Green, Blumenthal and Davis are up for reelection.  The candidates running for the three open positions are listed as follows:

AREA 2

Mark Ford lists his occupation as student, according to his biography on votersedge.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in theology, a master’s in management and a master’s in marketing. He has taught and worked in sales and fundraising in the past.

He defines the priorities of his campaign as increasing the accessibility of education, job security for employees and fundraising.

Ford supports unions and fundamentally believes that it is because of them that there is a middle class.

Virginia Blumenthal is the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees president and a criminal defense lawyer. She manages her own practice and balances presidential responsibilities with community involvement. She was named among the Top Most Influential Attorneys in California, among other awards.

Blumenthal grew up in Riverside and she attended Riverside City College in her youth.

She is running for trustee member this election because she feels the district has not yet emerged from the budget crisis, and that she still has a lot to accomplish.

AREA 4

Janet Green serves as vice president for the RCCD Board of Trustees. She was convinced to run for the board by her husband, who was dean of Occupational Education for RCCD when she was a college professor and administrator for San Bernardino Valley College.

Green hopes to make classes more accessible to students who really need them and to improve facilities and parking.

She graduated from the University of Redlands and went on to get her master’s degree in administration from California State University, Long Beach.

Juliann Anderson is a deputy city attorney for Los Angeles and has served as deputy district attorney for Riverside County. She owns her own law practice and serves as an instructor for UC Riverside.

Anderson graduated from Harvard and Stanford universities.

“She seeks to expand job training programs, maintain fiscal accountability, and increase accessibility, graduation rates and transfer rates to four-year colleges,” according to http://www.juliannanderson.com.

Ben Johnson is vice president of MedAssets and served on the Alvord board of Education for 17 years. He was recognized for his volunteer work in his community with the Outstanding Citizen Award for Riverside County, and has contributed to several local organizations and committees.

Johnson’s potential contribution to the Board of Trustees is laid out as being: “his proven leadership and demonstrated ability to exercise responsible fiscal restraint, while protecting valuable staff and teacher jobs, and continue improving students’ educational experiences,” according to   http://www.ben4rccd.com.

Bernard Fradkin is a community college instructor with a doctoral degree in education, a master’s in teaching, and a master of arts and is a Fulbright Scholar.

The emphasis of Fradkin’s campaign for Board of Trustees is on access to classes, degree completion programs and fiscal responsibility.

“I will put ‘community’ back into community college through transparency and accessibility to information,” said Fradkin in a statement on             fradkin4trustee.com.

Fradkin draws from his history in education and national board membership to bring experience to his campaign for board member, according to his website.

AREA 5

Samuel Davis has served as a member of RCCD Board of Trustees since his election in 2010. Davis was the first black member of the board and he emphasizes diversity and equality in his campaign.

Davis earned a degree in chemistry and biology while he worked two full time jobs in his youth, and went on to get a master’s degree in education from CSU Dominguez Hills in addition to a master’s degree in public health.

Trustee Davis is currently a member of the Riverside County Advisory Committee on Substance Abuse. He gets much of his motivation for community involvement from his church and his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist. If re-elected, he intends to emphasize further developing board diversity in the coming years.

Imran Farooq began taking classes at Riverside City College at age 13 and went on to get his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, a master’s degree of and a doctorate from the University of Southern California.

“His dissertation on revitalizing neighborhoods from the housing crisis became the subject of a local PBS documentary and was published as a book called Private Partnership for Public Benefit,” it said in a statement on drfarooq.nationbuilder.com.

Farooq serves on the March Air Museum board of directors, and is a member of the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council, among other community groups.

Tracey Vackar has served as a board member of the Moreno Valley Unified School District since 1990 and currently serves as board president until her term expires in 2016. Vackar has served as a teacher and project coordinator and currently works as director of Career Technical Education for Fontana Unified School District, according to http://www.mvusd.edu.

She serves on the Credential Advisory boards for CSU San Bernardino, UCR Riverside Extensions and San Diego County Office of Education.

Vackar’s campaign priorities are to provide education that will increase test scores, to offer competitive instructor salaries and to fight for legislative funding.

Keri Then is professor of graduate courses for business, science and arts in management programs at the University of Redlands. She has a doctorate degree in business administration. Her master’s degree is in telecommunications and science in telecommunications. Keri is a retired US Air Force officer and a former Senior Development Engineer in UC Riverside, where she led projects upgrading voice, data, and fiber optic cabling systems for the campus.

Her priorities if elected as a Board of Trustee member are to increase opportunities in vocational and educational programs and lowering tuition costs.

Steve Collier is an educator and instructor with a master’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in educational technology. Collier has little to no political experience according to a statement he made in a http://www.blogtalkradio.com interview.

Collier is running for Board of Trustees because as a Moreno Valley College instructor he has grown frustrated with the “revolving door” administration and interim positions where people have been unwilling or unable to commit to their positions.

Collier loves the California Community College system more than any other system, so he hopes to expand the benefits of the system. The platform he hopes to get elected on is to expand course offerings, reduce the turnover of administrators and promoting equality and growth.

This article was published in the Oct. 30 edition of Viewpoints.