With 105 of 105 precincts reporting, Walt Glines has secured a
seat on the Gavilan College Community Joint College District.
In the Gilroy-area race, Glines tallied 9,414 votes with 54.52
percent margin over opponent Eleanor Villarreal’s 7,854 votes with
45.48 percent of the vote.
40 percent of the votes counted in Santa Clara County and 48
percent of the votes counted in San Benito County, Kent Child, an
incumbent, and Anthony Ruiz led the candidates for the San Benito
County-area seat. In the Gilroy-area race, newcomer Walter Glines
led candidate Eleanor Villareal in both counties with 55 percent of
the votes an hour after the polls closed.
One incumbent and two newcomers were elected to Gavilan College Community Joint College District seats when the final results were posted late on election night. Incumbent Kent Child and newcomer Tony Ruiz took the two seats in San Benito County, while newcomer Walt Glines took the seat in Gilroy.
Five candidates vied for three board of trustee seats in two of the Gavilan Joint Community College Districts. Though the district is divided into three areas, voters who reside in all three districts can vote for candidates in both races.
In Santa Clara County, Walt Glines received 53 percent of the vote in both counties while opponent Eleanor Villarreal received around 46 percent in both counties.
Glines, a newspaper circulation manager for Main Street Media Group, which owns The Gilroy Dispatch, Morgan Hill Times and the Weekend Pinnacle in Hollister, said he ran to be more involved with the community college.
“Gavilan College is a tremendous community asset,” he said in an e-mail the morning after the election. “Winning the election will enable me to do that.”
Like Ruiz and Child, Glines sees the expansion of services as a main priority.
“Gavilan has some big decisions to be made in the next year,” he said. “We have to expand the Hollister and Morgan Hill satellite campuses so that fewer students from those areas have to commute to Gilroy.
“Plus, Gavilan has the equivalent of about 300 more full-time students than the state gives us money for due to an enrollment cap. Yet, more and more students of all ages are turning to their community college for an education and job training.”
Child, an incumbent and former college instructor, received 33.69 percent of the votes in San Benito County and 36.35 percent in south Santa Clara.
Ruiz received the second-most votes with 31.76 percent in San Benito County and 28.41 percent in Santa Clara.
Incumbent Elvira Zaragoza Robinson and newcomer Stelvio Locci trailed behind with 21 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Ruiz, who taught political science at Gavilan College for 30 years and was “very, very active,” said he also attended the community college when it was still called San Benito Junior College. He also served on the San Benito High School Board of Trustees for eight years in the 1970s.
Ruiz said recent research has found 30 percent of community college students ever get a certificate or transfer to four-year universities.
“Community colleges need tremendous improvement,” he said. “I don’t feel the trustees, as a body, have helped (Gavilan College President Steve) Kinsella out. He needs more help to formulate a vision and drive that vision.”
Another reason he stated for running is his interest in new urbanism. He has been a proponent of expanding Gavilan College in or near downtown Hollister. The trustees are looking at a possible, temporary expansion at the former Leatherback Industries site on McCray Street near downtown Hollister.
“I went to San Benito Junior College and it was right downtown,” he said.
Ruiz recalled his time on the high school board.
“I served on a very, very effective and professional board at the high school,” he said. “I was able to see that changes can be brought by a board that is active.”
Ruiz also stressed the importance of community colleges in offering training to people in a down economy.
“It is one of the continuing, most critical functions – employment skill training and skill enhancement,” Child said. “All students are facing a much more severe job market, and community college plays a vital role in aiding individuals to seek employment or get retrained to be competitive.”
Child has been a trustee for five and a half years and was originally appointed to complete the remainder of a term for Jamie De La Cruz, who was elected to the San Benito County Board of Supervisors. When he ran four years ago, there were three other candidates running for two seats. He received the most votes in that election.
“The most important thing is I want to see the college have a collective, collaborative board,” Child said.
Child cited the expansion of services in San Benito as a top priority.
“We need to continue to work towards expanding student services to residents, physically, here in San Benito County,” he said, referring to plans to increase enrollment so that the college can create an educational center.
He also mentioned the financial issues facing the college as state funding has been cut.
“We are in good fiscal shape, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t lost revenue,” Child said. “We planned for it and knew cuts were coming. We’ve been able to maintain staff with no cuts.”
He added that some class sections were cut from the schedule, though no faculty had to be laid off.
“The goal is to ride out the economy,” he said. “There is a downturn and we need to be poised to expand as the economy begins to recover.”
Other candidates did not return calls.
The seven-member board members are elected for a four-year term, with meetings held monthly.