Gavilan Election: What you need to know

On the heels of hiring a new president, Gavilan Community College in Gilroy will soon have a new trustee.

Two candidates, Danielle Davenport and Rachel Perez, will vie for the only contested seat in the Nov. 8 election for the Gavilan Joint Community College District. Two other seats are uncontested so voters can choose only the incumbent in each.

It will mark the first time trustees are seated under the college’s new district election format. Previously, they were elected at-large from the attendance area, which encompasses 2,700 square miles in San Benito County, and Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Martin and parts of south San Jose in Santa Clara County.

Also under the old system, the board had to be made up of two trustees each from the Gilroy and Morgan Hill unified school districts and three from San Benito High School District.

In the new election format, representation from Santa Clara County will be slightly stronger than from San Benito County.

Four trustees must live in Santa Clara County, two in San Benito County and the seventh can live in either county.

Under the new format approved by trustees last year, the attendance area was subdivided into seven Trustee Areas (TAs), each roughly balanced in numbers (24,000 based on the 2010 U.S. Census) and demographic characteristics, including ethnicity.

The change was made following pressure from Latino groups that claimed Latinos were at a disadvantage under the old system, a violation of the Federal Voting Right Act.

Now, candidates can run only from the area in which they live. Voters cast ballots only for candidates who live in their area.

Elections under the new system, like the old, are staggered so that all seats are not open at the same time. This year, seats in TAs 2, 4 and 6 will be filled.

Davenport, of San Martin, and Perez, of Gilroy, are vying for the T6 seat. That trustee area is the only one that includes parts of Santa Clara and San Benito counties.
Incumbent Jonathan Brusco of Morgan Hill is running unopposed in TA2, while board colleague Mark Dover of Gilroy is unchallenged in TA4.

The San Benito and Santa Clara County election offices consolidate the trustees’ election with the November general election under contract with Gavilan College.

On June 14, the college board voted unanimously to hire Kathleen Rose as the school’s superintendent/president.

Previously she was Gavilan’s executive vice president and head of instruction. Rose held that post for seven years before succeeding the retiring president, Steve Kinsella.

Gavilan College has a 2016-17 operating budget of $43.5 million, with another $33 million in Measure E capital project expenditures, federal financial aid monies and the Associated Students fund, according to Jan Bernstein Chargin, director of public information.

The college enrolled 8,572 students for the 2016 spring semester. Of those, 71 percent were part-time, 19 percent were full-time and 9 percent were non-credit students, she said.

It has a full-time faculty of 207 and 270 part-time teachers and other staff.

In addition to its main campus in Gilroy, Gavilan operates learning centers in Morgan Hill and Hollister and will open another in the Coyote Valley in South San Jose.

The college started nearly a century ago as San Benito Junior College in Hollister, became a joint community college in 1963 with the addition of south Santa Clara County to its service area and built its main Gilroy campus on Santa Teresa Boulevard in the late 1960s. In 2019 the school will celebrate its centennial anniversary.

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