Rio Hondo College Board Area 5 Elections Q&A


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oscar Valladares

Oscar Valladares is running for re-elections for Rio Hondo Area 5.

Oscar Valladares is currently a deputy public conservator in the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and is running for re-election for Rio Hondo College Board Area 5. 

Vanessa Tyson is running to serve as a Governing Board Member for Rio Hondo Community College District in Area 5.

Oscar Valladares

What position are you running for and can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I’m running for re-election for Rio Hondo College Board, Area 5. I immigrated to the United States with my parents when I was 11 years old. Despite the many challenges faced as an immigrant non-English speaking student, I successfully graduated both high school and college. The Community College pathway afforded me an opportunity to continue my education at a financial cost that was within my reach without the assistance of financial aid.

While my journey was 7 years long, I am proud to say that I succeeded in transferring and obtaining my bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles. It was my educational journey that empowered and inspired me to dedicate my professional career to public service. For the past 18 years I have worked for the County of Los Angeles. Initially as a Child Support Officer and now as a Deputy Public Conservator providing vital mental health services to many in our surrounding communities.

I have resided in Whittier for decade now and am proud to be raising and sharing volunteer experiences with my daughter in our home community. As Trustee, I will continue to advocate for quality opportunities similar to those I had as a community college student. I will ensure that clear and accessible educational/career pathways are created while cutting cost and shortening transfer/graduation time. 

Whittier is my family’s home and the community college system was central to my family’s success. My education prepared me to secure a good-paying job and provide for my family. I will diligently and unapologetically work to ensure that every student is granted that same and/or better opportunities.”

Can you tell me how the election process works and what are you doing for your campaign?

“I have engaged our community with monthly newsletter via e-mail and social media paid ads providing Rio Hondo College updates and resources. During the pandemic, I hosted four Food Distribution events serving over 2500 families during. I volunteer at my local church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where my family donates and volunteer during the Food Distribution and serve as a Lector. Early this summer, I door-knock on over 500 homes and provided Rio Hondo College update to our residents. I have been canvassing since late August as part of my re-election campaign.

 I have received the endorsement of Rio Hondo College Trustee Rosaelva Lomeli, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, State Senator Bob Archuleta, Assembly member Mike Fong, City of Whittier School Board Member Polly Vigil, East Whittier School Board Member Carlos Aparicio, Whittier Union High School Board Member Jaime Lopez, Former Whittier Council member Josue Alvarado (RHC Alumni). I am also supported by local regional leader like Pico Rivera Mayor, Dr. Monica Sanchez (RHC Alumni), Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco, El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona, Norwalk Council member Ana Valencia (former Norwalk-La Mirada School Board Member) and Southwest Regional Council of the Carpenters Union.”

What are your goals if you do win the election?

“Since being elected in 2018, I have worked hard to execute my priorities to champion student success, increase the graduation completion rate, create career pathways for high-paying jobs, increase scholarship opportunities, and maintain fiscal stability. I am proud of the progress toward these priorities for both our students and our college district. Some of them include: Modernize Board Meetings from paper and pencil to 100% digital and make them accessible to our community to increase public transparency. 

Scholarships & Career Pathways secured $1.5 million for scholarship/fellowships to help students achieve their educational goals without incurring debt.  Saved public funds with bond refinance savings of over $13 million for our homeowners & #39 taxpayers and increased reserves (7% to 27%) during my Board Presidency. We secured $500,000 for the Child Care Center to provide child care during the pandemic and secured funds to house students experiencing homelessness.  Led efforts to assist Rio Hondo College students (65) renewed or apply for DACA by providing funds for filing fees and legal assistance to complete the application process.

Despite this remarkable progress, the COVID pandemic added tremendous setbacks to our country & #39’s entire educational system. It has impacted our college students, who were already burdened with numerous challenges like food insecurities, homelessness, and inflation. Our college adjusted to provide online classes so students can continue to take courses with support services.

We obtained federal grants to support students with tuition assistance, food, housing, mental healthcare, and childcare. As an immigrant who worked through college with no financial aid, I understand the challenges students may face problems when there is no support in achieving their educational goals. As a Trustee,

I will continue to advocate for opportunities for our students and ensure they can obtain the education necessary for lifelong success in a good-paying career while keeping costs low, shortening the time needed to finish, and providing the essential support for success. I believe in life-long learning, and Rio Hondo is a precious resource for all residents in our community. We will continue to grow and expand our service so that any person seeking education opportunities can succeed at Rio Hondo College.”

Vanessa Tyson 

What position are you running for and can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I was born and raised here in Whittier/Area 5, I’m a first-generation college graduate who overcame various odds to become a tenured professor at Scripps College, the Women’s College of Claremont. I was raised by a very loving and supportive single mom, while my father was in and out of the criminal justice system. I teach courses on public policy, a subject I’ve been consumed with since I was a little girl. Those courses include Introduction to Public Policy; Women and Public Policy, Environmental Policy in the US, Marginalized Communities, and a handful more.”

Can you tell me how the election process works and what are you doing for your campaign?

“The election process is a bit more complicated than it would seem, and it varies from office to office. For the position of Governing Board Member of Rio Hondo College, I first had to ask the LA County Registrar-Recorder’s office for a variety of forms to fill out. I then submitted those forms by the filing deadline. From there, I proceeded to reach out to friends and family to let them know that I’m running, I found a consultant who would be able to print campaign literature and provide field organizing advice, and I hired a treasurer who could file various forms about campaign contributions and expenditures with the California Secretary of State’s Office in Sacramento.

Now I’m working on day-to-day tasks like fundraising, distributing yard signs to supporters in the district, completing endorsement questionnaires, participating in endorsement interviews, canvassing with literature, setting up events, and coordinating with campaign volunteers. I’m running field operations and outreach, endorsements, fundraising, and events/logistics. 

Running against a Democratic incumbent is an uphill battle, but my work has paid off in that I’ve endorsed the LA County Democratic Party, Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, the United Democrats of San Gabriel Valley, and numerous local elected officials and/or former elected officials.”

What are your goals if you do win the election? 

“My goals include providing increased student resources available through the Office of Basic Needs. In particular, I want more funding for mental health services, along with housing and food security, for members of the Rio Hondo Community. I also want to oversee an increase in enrollment, along with community recognition that the College provides invaluable opportunities for everyone. More generally, I want to be an active advocate for students, staff, and faculty so that everyone thrives, and no one falls through the cracks.”