Voters should turn the incumbents on the Pima Community College board out of office for two reasons: They have failed to oversee the college administration despite warning signs that something was terribly wrong, and the challengers are highly qualified people with experience that will help right the ship.
The Arizona Daily Star endorses Sylvia Lee and Richard Fridena for the two open spots on the PCC Board of Governors.
They are running against incumbents Marty Cortez and Sherryn "Vikki" Marshall, each of whom has been on the board more than a decade. The board set policy that improved PCC during that time, but the credit for those changes can be shared by many throughout the college.
What can't be broadly shared is the responsibility Cortez and Marshall have for failing to provide any real oversight of former Chancellor Roy Flores as reports of sexual harassment and questionable spending surfaced, or to take seriously a mass exodus of longtime PCC administrators.
Lee was part of that exodus. She was president of the Northwest and Community campuses but retired sooner than planned after, she said, it was clear she'd gotten on the wrong side of Flores.
She has the experience within PCC, and other community college systems, to offer the sitting board members valuable on-the-ground perspective they clearly need. She has been involved with community members who fought changes to the college's open admissions policy - changes Flores pushed and the board swiftly approved.
Fridena worked at PCC for 30 years. He spent five years as an adjunct instructor before being hired full-time to teach social services courses. He ran the faculty association and knows the district in a way that will complement Lee's point of view.
"I see a dysfunctional board asleep at the wheel," Fridena told the Star. "When boards fall asleep at the wheel they delegate their responsibility."
Fridena said he would change the structure of board meetings so there is dialogue and discussion among the members, and with the PCC staff.
It was the change from open enrollment that prompted Fridena to run. "This issue got me out of my easy chair," he said. Under the new policy, which began this semester, incoming students must take placement tests, and if they score too low they're directed to remedial, noncredit online courses. The results have been rocky.
"We told the board, make it a pilot program, see how it goes," he said. "The board went ahead. The board was unresponsive to the community."
Pima Community College plays a crucial role in people improving their lives through education and job training. It's also a large employer and, at the most basic level, directly affects taxpayers. It needs board members who take their oversight role as seriously as their policymaking role and who will not be taken in when signs of trouble arise.
We believe that Sylvia Lee and Richard Fridena will do that, and we endorse them for the Pima Community College Board of Governors.
EndorsEment: Pima Community College