Both district board candidates that the PCC Faculty Association have endorsed for the two open Board of Trustees seats are leading in the polls, with one district confirmed and the other too close to call in Tuesday’s election.
Author Hoyt Hilsman has usurped the two-term incumbent trustee Bill Thomson for the district four seat, nearly doubling his total votes, 1,414 to 778, marking the first time an incumbent has lost in this district since 1983.
“I think the community began to realize what PCC students and staff knew for quite a while — there is a vacuum of leadership at the board level,” Hilsman said. “I think the voters got the message and they delivered.”
In a forum attended by all candidates early last month, the discussion focused on the need to change the campus climate and establish a more collegial relationship between faculty and administration.
“I’m hoping some problems from the past can be addressed and there will be a more open conversation. That’s my goal,” Hilsman said. “I’m optimistic it can be done but I know it won’t happen overnight.
The seat change comes during some major challenges and changes for the college, including placement on academic probation and a new president-superintendent and Academic Senate leadership.
“We congratulate Trustee-elect Hilsman on his election and look forward to working with the new Board to rebuild collegial relations between faculty, staff, and administration so that we can continue to further student success,” said Julie Kiotas, PCCFA President.
“I’m extremely disappointed and surprised by the results,” Thomson said, who plans to continue his serving the PCC community through other venues such as the Pasadena Education Foundation. “A negative campaign was run and I think it caught the attention of voters.”
In the district two race to replace the retiring trustee of 32 years, Jeanette Mann, PCCFA choice Tom Selinske holds a slight edge over educator James Osterling of just three votes, 1,721 to 1,718.
“Selinske brings eight years of experience on the Pasadena Unified School District board,” Thomson said of the district two results. “He knows how to work with people and that will be the major challenge—how effectively the board can work with the college as a whole and with administration.”
Selinske, a small business owner and former PCC student, stressed the need for patience in a race so close.
“It’s hard to know [what the final vote will be]. It sounds like there’s 500 votes that still need to be counted,” Selinske said. “It looks like more people voted by mail this year than in person.”
Although all 16 precincts in the district have reported results, there is a three-day grace period for mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, according to the LA County Registrar-Recorder office, meaning the results may change.
“We need to restore collegial relationships at the school and help students get a two-year degree in two years,” Osterling said.
Selinske, Osterling, and Hilsman said they hope to focus their tenures on bolstering the counseling office so that students know what classes they need and increasing access to classes without raising class sizes.
“We need to look at the core mission of the college,” Osterling said. “We should be focusing on getting students degrees, vocational training, and life-long learning.”
The elected candidates will be sworn in Dec. 9 during the board’s annual organizational meeting.
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