By Benjamin Diaz
The Board of Trustees Tuesday selected five finalists out of ten applicants for the vacant Area 2 seat who will be interviewed further at a special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.
The top three candidates who ranked within one point of each other are Irma Archuleta of Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Leon Foster of the Long Beach Gas & Oil Department and Vivian Malauulu, an LBCC part-time journalism teacher and longshore worker.
Ranking fourth is Susan Redfield, a retired attorney, nonprofit executive and professional fundraiser. Juan Lopez, who is a special assistant to the Los Angeles City Controller, an LBCC alumnus and a recent graduate of the University of Oregon, Eugene, ranked fifth.
Board President Jeff Kellogg said about his vote, “Please don’t look at this as the ranking as it’s going to be. … I wanted to see if I could get a group of candidates that I would like to interview a second time.” Kellogg then seconded a motion by Trustee Doug Otto to expand the final list from three to five.
In the beginning of the meeting Eva Bagg, of institutional effectiveness, described the ranking process the Trustees were to use and she tallied the final scores after the vote. Only the top five scores were displayed at the meeting. The candidates’ applications and resumes can be seen on the college’s website.
Andrea Donado, 30, a gender studies major and former student trustee, said, “I have no favorites but I’m happy there’s a lot of competent people running for this. I’m pretty sure a change in the Board would be awesome.”
The candidates had five minutes to introduce themselves and then each answered the same four question asked by the trustees. Several candidates cited student success and low morale as issues to be addressed. Archuleta talked about the college’s upcoming accreditation standing.
Each candidate was asked about a recent Board decision they felt strongly about. The two-tiered system was mentioned often. Lopez spoke about the decision to select an appointee for the vacant seat versus an election. He said, “I believe it was a fiscally prudent measure. $250,000 spent on an election arguably would have been a waste of tax-payer dollars with such a low turnout.”
LBCC Personnel Commission member Richard Gaylord, who was part of the ad hoc advisory committee, said the process went beyond his expectations citing the number and caliber of applicants and the commitment to the college. “The participation tonight has been incredible. … For me it was a very uplifting experience. For me to have sat through all this, reflects that.”
Trustee Sunny Zia asked at the beginning of the meeting what recourse was available if people were not happy with the decision. Attorney Warren Kinsler who served as the District’s outside counsel on this issue said voters could petition to have a special election to fill the vacancy.
Five gallery speakers including Long Beach District 1 council member, Lena Gonzalez, no relation, spoke during the public comments section endorsing Mario Gonzalez, a senior community relations specialist at the Port of Long Beach. But Gonzalez did not rank in the final five.
Christian Rodriguez Caldera, current LBCC employee and alumnus, who was the first interviewee said he was concerned that this sets a bad precedent of other Board members selecting trustees. “It really felt like you were in American Idol. Whoever had the best resume, the best rhetoric, the best arguments.”
Alex Gomez, an administrator and specialist for the charter schools division of LAUSD, had rescinded his application.