Board of Trustees election heats up

Vying for the one seat on the Area 3 Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees, candidates Mary Ann Pacheco, a retired 38-year career college professor, and Jaime L. Alvarez, also a professor and Rio Hondo graduate, will face off in the Nov. 5  election that will decide who will occupy the seat on the board.

Both candidates spoke at a public forum held a few weeks ago in Whittier, where they discussed student achievement, community participation, and the college’s current microscopic attention over its accreditation.

Pacheco advocated that her 38-year career in college education, and her “passion” for Rio Hondo College, would be an immense benefit to serving on the board.

“I know the college — its budget, policies, and procedures,” Pacheco said, as reported by the Whittier Daily News. “I understand our students, their families and their communities. I have the experience, knowledge, and understanding to move the college forward into the twenty-first century.”

Alvarez, an adjunct professor at East Los Angeles College  who worked as a planning commissioner in South El Monte, believes his understanding of the community and its inner-workings is imperative to his success of the board. According to Alvarez, graduation and retention rates are keys to Rio Hondo’s growth as a college and community, as well as encouraging graduates to work within the community.

Both candidates recognize the crucial need for increased transparency and accountability in regards to the board, by the Accreditation Committee. Placed in a warning status in 2009, Alvarez believed that the cause was a lack of leadership that put Rio Hondo in peril. As a member of that same board, he said that he would push to establish stability and good policies.

Pacheco similarly stated that there has to be trust at each level of the college so standards can be set and met.

The two candidates have also made comments on Rio Hondo’s Student Success Initiative, which promotes various strategies for increasing rate of completion of degrees, certificates, and transfers. Alvarez has called the project in the past “ambitious,” while expressing his belief that it should be given a chance to succeed or fail, but not changed right away.

Pacheco suggested that discussions on the project should continue.