Two years ago this month the Southwestern College Governing Board was a travesty and a national laughing stock. With the exception of the brave, lonely voice of Nick Aguilar, the board was a flock of ostriches, heads in the sand, allowing a corrupt administration to drive the gem of the South Bay to the verge of closure. SWC had become a national joke.
In November 2010, district voters made two good decisions by bringing in reformers Norma Hernandez and Tim Nader. Along with appointee Humberto Peraza, they formed a new reformist majority that cleaned house, ended a culture of corruption, restored accreditation and rekindled hope.
Today it is time for voters to make two more good decisions and finish the job. Humberto Peraza needs to be returned for a full term and William Stewart needs to solidify the reformist majority. Peraza and Stewart are vastly more knowledgeable and able to lead Southwestern than their likeable but overmatched opponents, both of whom are backed by many of the same moneyed agents of corruption that brought SWC to the brink of closure.
We have no time to ramp up anyone without community college experience. Our school is in dire economic straits due to the California financial crisis. Failure of Proposition 30 could mean $4.8 million in additional mid-year cuts. Laws such as the Student Success Task Force of 2012 will revolutionize the community college mission and narrow the gate for students. The California community college system has lost $809 million in the last three years, 12 percent of its funding. Nearly half a million fewer students are enrolled in the community college system.
In crisis Peraza has formed in a stellar manner. He is highly intelligent, energetic, courageous, forward thinking and accessible. He works well with others, but will make a stand for what he believes is right. He is a heat-seeking missile out to destroy corrupt practices. His opponent, Imperial Beach firefighter Bud McLeroy, is a great guy, a war hero and a positive force in the community, but he cannot touch Peraza’s experience, connections and leadership talent. Peraza is an easy choice for seat #3.
The choice between William Stewart and Elizabeth Jean Roach is equally clear. Stewart, a respected professor of philosophy at San Diego City College who lives in Bonita, has 26 years of service to community colleges whereas Roach has none. Stewart also has business experience and an understanding of the complexities of California finance.
Stewart is the clear choice.
Roach is a charming woman, but too closely aligned with the right-wing, including some of the same shady business and political organizations that propped up the disgraced administration of fugitive former Superintendent Raj K. Chopra and former board members now charged with felonies. As the saying goes, “Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.”
Roach was particularly strident in her declaration that she is “not a union puppet,” an unnecessarily antagonistic point of view for a college that has enjoyed success and progress through teamwork, mutual sacrifice and cooperation.
Make no mistake, SWC is doing much better than two years ago and has a bright future under the right leadership. After considerable study of this year’s candidates, the Editorial Board of the Southwestern College Sun enthusiastically endorses Humberto Peraza and William Stewart for the governing board. Please vote Nov. 6 for transparency, experience and competence.