Humberto Peraza was sitting in an easy chair with his son in his lap, but he was not relaxing. Concern creased his normally smiling face as the election returns started to trickle in.
Tension gave way to celebration as Peraza racked up 57 percent of the vote in his contest against likeable Imperial Beach fire fighter Bud McLeroy. Peraza admitted to great relief.
“It takes a lot of time away from your family,” he said. “I have a five-year-old and an eight-year-old. It’s an intense process to be away from them.”
Peraza said going from event to event and being pulled in a million different directions by the campaigns was very stressful, but a great experience.
“We walked door to door, we raised money and we campaigned,” he said. “It was a tough process, but it was all enjoyable and the results are always great when it pays off.”
After ending SWC’s “culture of corruption,” Peraza said he believes SWC is now headed in the right direction.
“Perception in the community did not stop after we got a new board,” he said. “It means fixing a lot of issues that happened in the past, making sure they never happen again by creating policies. It’s having an open government, being transparent to the campus, to the community and sharing information. That’s not a simple thing. Mess up just one time and you ruin the perception of you and the community.”
Voter approval of Proposition 30 gives reason for hope for SWC’s future.
“Now, with Proposition 30, we need to fix those budget problems and start coming up with other revenue sources,” he said. “We cannot be solely reliant on the state for certain programs.”
Peraza said the college needs to raise revenue on its own. Using its vast facilities, its stadium for international soccer games, adult leagues or even concerts are some of his personal ideas. All these, he said, also bring the community back to the campus.
After the college handles the budget crisis, Peraza said he wants to return focus to education.
“We have to finish Proposition R, finish all of these lawsuits about negativity in the past,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be done with that next year, but certainly before the end of my term.”
Defendants in the pay-for-play corruption scandal are scheduled for trial in January. Former SWC Vice President Nicholas Alioto, former director John Wilson, former governing board member Yolanda Salcido and current director Arlie Ricasa have been charged by the San Diego County District Attorney with multiple felonies. Former superintendent Raj Chopra is either in hiding or has fled the country.