COD Trustee Forum

dupage_1Nowak, Fernandez, Giorno, Ledonne, McKinnon, O’Donnell, Wehr all no shows;  Jeffery Handel, Sandy Kim, Matthew Nelson, Kim Savage, Nancy Svoboda, and Tom Wendorf all take the pledge.

Okay right from the start let’s get this out in the open, this non-partisan election is hardly non-partisan, and neither am I.  See my other post on the background here, or just google “COD trustee fight” as a jump off point.

About 200 or so people (I’m terrible at estimating crowds) attended the candidate forum held by DuPage United at Congregation Etz Chiam.  I gotta hand it to DuPage United, they have some group; the opening prayer in the temple was given by Ashraf Elessawy of the Islamic Center of Naperville.  Another reason why we Americans rock as  the best country in the world.

DG St. Joe member John Hazard framed the discussion of “What’s going on at COD?” with his usual factual seriousness.  Rev. Jonathan Dean of First United Methodist Church with his spiffy Brit accent (full disclosure: FUMC is the church I pretend to go to) asked candidates a set of questions prepared for yes/no answers for the first round, much like the housing forum they held in DG two years ago.

Candidates were also allowed to make a three minute statement, and then another two minutes because they were right on schedule.  The five questions DU asked for yes no answers were:

  1. Will you pledge to support a presidential Search Committee representative of all affected constituencies, one where all members have a vote in selecting finalists to be presented to the Board of Trustees for final selection?
  2. Would you work to repeal the policy manual adopte on March 19 and reestablish the Leadership Council in order to begin the revision process of the policy manual again?
  3. Will you make workforce development a priority for COD and take immediate actions to enhance and invest in workforce development?
  4. Will you work toward finding alternative funding sources and cutting expenses so as to not further burden the students of COD with unaffordable tuition increases?
  5. If you win the election, will you agree to meet with the representatives of DuPage United before May 7, 2009?

All candidates answered yes to all questions, which, given all the absences, make me think at least most of the missing candidates would have said no to at least some of them.

This whole deal smells like a faculty revolt against a tyrannical board, so there may not be any good guys in the fight.  Teachers were dead set against having their salaries made public, the board chair wants to exercise censorship over the student paper for digging up petition irregularities in the highly contested filings.

I really dislike censorship on school papers, so guess where I’m coming down on this whole issue.  How are they supposed to be responsible hell raising reporters if they are co-opted by an adult?  They were doing such a good job raising hell they got in trouble for it.  When they graduate let the reality of the real newspaper world of endless dull meetings and press releases crush their dreams, no need to do it before they even get out of school.  Especially when they were raising hell with some honest to god investigative reporting.

The above link will also take you to interviews The Courier did with some candidates who did not appear at the forum, most notably Mark Nowak, who comes off quite well.

Friends for Education, which is the College of DuPage Faculty Association, has thrown it’s weight and money into the election, openly funding several candidates who are, safe to say, not Rs.  They have transferred $1,000 each to Sandy Kim, Kim Savage, and Tom Wendorf.  Although they also endorse DG resident Nancy Svoboda, there is, so far, no record of a similar transfer. FFE has a $67,000 war chest raised for this election, so they are serious.

Citizens for C.O.D. is the other side, supporting candidates that appear to not be, ahem, Ds shall we say.  So far there is no real organized fund raising for the forum no shows, and the reports show little to no activity.  Odd.  No web site I have found yet either.  Weird way of getting their word out.

A couple of the usual DG suspects showed up.  Gordon Goodman was there, always his affable self.  Julia Kennedy Beckman, running for 99 board, was there, and we briefly spoke.  Bill Waldack, running for DG council, was there also, and we spoke too, but I think they were there like me, to listen up.  Anyway, I kept a running score, and as I said to Julia Beckman, this looks like one far enough removed I can actually write about it.

So here we go.

I kept a running row of +, 0, or – depending on my own personal reaction to what the candidates were saying, then I added them all up.  While this works well for me, I would suggest learning a bit about the candidates on your own.

There are three candidates running for a single two year term.  Sandy Kim scored a total +5, coming across as a sincere young lady who wants to bring her recent student perspective to the board.  She made no comments I took as negative.  Jeffery Handel scored +3.  Laying out his props as an experienced West Chicago board member seemed a bit like bragging he’d been here and was doing that already, but that was his only negative.

There are three 6 year seats open. This is a big deal and will effect the board consist moving forward, so this election is important.  Tom Wendorf scored +8, highest of any candidate present.  He made a clear case for reaffirming COD’s role as DuPage County’s largest supplier of a technically trained workforce (as well as a 2 year junior college) and how that helped the county attract companies and jobs.  DG resident Nancy Svoboda scored +6.  Even while noting she was a 35 year former COD employee, which I don’t consider a positive, she laid out concise reasoning that having a former employee (councilor I think) with a mediation skill set would help discussions with a wider perspective.

The next two were very tight.  Matthew Nelson scored +5, despite negatives of appearing to maybe have a presidential ax to grind (although that seemed to be a positive for the audience earlier in the presentation of COD issues).  He was a bit hesitant at first speaking in front of a large crowd, but came across a just a regular guy, very sincere, which scored as a plus, and past the prez, seemed pretty open and even keeled.  Kim Savage scored +4.  She has considerable educational experience (had to have the most of any candidate) and a diverse background, but like Handel it seemed a bit like bragging instead of just laying out props like Svoboda and Kim did.  And smile!  Take Savage’s score with a grain of salt; the lack of a smile and the way she ran through her resume seemed perfunctory and a bit dismissive to me.

The COD Courier endorsed candidates after the paper’s student editors directly interviewed all but three of them, one at a time.  McKinnon declined to be interviewed.  Sharon Giorno and Lisa Wehr do not appeared to have done any campaigning at all, and were no shows.

The editorial board issued an endorsement of Sandy Kim for the two year term seat, and Kim Savage, Nancy Svoboda and  Tom Wendorf  for the  six-year seats.

So take it all for what it’s worth.  Several candidates weren’t there, and they’ll have their supporters I’m sure, but this was pretty much my only shot at meeting and hearing them, and I think they all can be commended for hanging themselves out there and running.

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3 Responses to “COD Trustee Forum”

  1. Mark Garrity Says:

    Kim Savage has decades of experience at UIC helping build it from the mediocrity it used to be into a major educational institution. She’ll make a fine COD trustee. Yeah she’s not a fire and brimstone public speaker but she has knowledge and skills about how a college ought to be run that blows away McKinnon and his pet picks.

    I’ll be voting for Savage, Kim, Svoboda and Wendorf.

    This comment has been edited. MT

  2. Matthew Nelson Says:

    Mark-

    A fairly accurate summary of the day. Thank you for following the election. I am a regular guy, as you noted above. I truly stepped forward as a concerned member of the community that wants to see COD attain great things.

    To clarify, I have no presidential axe to grind, I wanted to address the question that referred to forming a presidential search committee and ran out of time. I wanted to praise the process that Harper College used to handle not only the presidential search but also the sudden departure of Dr. Breuder. In all aspects this was handled in what I feel was an extremely transparent and proactive manner. One which I would want to emulate as a College of DuPage Trustee.

    Please keep informing citizens about local issues and elections. You are doing a service to the community by bringing awareness to these issues and others. Informed citizens and voters can be a powerful thing.

    Vote Local. Vote Nelson.
    Vote April 7th.

    Matthew H. Nelson
    matthewnelsontrustee.com

  3. markthoman Says:

    This comment was made at an earlier post, and I moved it here.-MT

    Ruth Rank Submitted on 2009/03/26 at 11:58am

    COD Trustee candidate Nancy Svoboda has some very important things to say about the current state of COD. Voters please take note. COD is at a critical juncture. The current board is plagued with toxic conflict. This conflict is taking energy away from delivering to the community the lifelong learning opportunities that are its intended mission. Among may other qualifications, Ms. Svoboda’s unique background in conflict resolution provide her with the skills necessary to tackle the challenges the board is currently facing. Her communication style is direct yet inviting and approachable. Her knowledge and experience in adult education is extensive.

    I have talked at length with this candidate about her vision for the college. It is realistic without supplanting innovation . Her vision faces fiscal and curricular challenges head on. Our community college is a reflection of our community. It reflects the value our community places on lifelong education. Please take the time to look at Ms. Svoboda’s outstanding qualifications. This is an important vote. It is our responsibility as citizens to ensure that affordable, quality education is accessible to the members of our community.


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