After 28 years of combined service, the president and vice president of the GCC Board of Trustees failed in their re-election bids in Glendale’s Tuesday election.
The two longtime members, Trustee President Robert Holmes and Vice President Martin Pilgreen, will be replaced with fresh faces. Holmes has been on the board for 20 years. Pilgreen has served for eight years.
The two men, who stressed the same concerns as other candidates during forums around Glendale, will step down to allow the new members to take their seats.
The voters decided to keep incumbent Anita Quinonez Gabrielian on the board; joining her are newcomers Dr. Kathleen Burke-Kelly and Ara Najarian.
The three candidates are to combine with the current members, Dr. Armine Hacopian and Victor King on April 21, during induction (the first board meeting), to form the board and make final financial decisions for GCC.
The elections brought 19,398 voters out to the polls. The municipal elections for Glendale are held every odd year and determine new members for the Glendale City Council, Glendale Unified School District and Glendale Community College Board of Trustees.
Five candidate hopefuls ran for three open seats on the Board of Trustees. A forum, hosted by ASGCC and held on Monday in the auditorium, gave students and faculty and staff members a chance to become familiar with each of the candidates and their views.
Burke-Kelly, Gabrielian, Najarian, Holmes and Pilgreen were allotted five minutes each to introduce themselves as well as their beliefs, their promises and their strengths.
Upon introduction, most of the candidates spoke about their careers, seats on other boards and councils, their education, their family and, most important, what they would bring to the board.
“I took classes at GCC [prior to transferring to Irvine] and then, I had 20 years of faculty experience at GCC. I would like to continue my committed contribution to GCC, as a board member,” Burke-Kelly said.
“I also was a GCC student, [prior to transferring to USC] and when I moved back into the neighborhood-three blocks away from the GCC campus – I quickly realized how important the college is to the community,” Gabrielian said. She served on the board during the last term and said, “I have enjoyed it tremendously, and feedback says I have done a good job.”
Najarian, has not had a history with GCC but said he was prepared to commit his strengths to the institution. “I am committed to a quality education and I am committed to the community,” he said.
He also said that with all the budget cuts, he would like to “make more incentives for the faculty to teach excellence. Excellent teaching equals an excellent college.”
Another current member, Holmes, introduced himself as a former GCC faculty member and a long time participant on the board of trustees.
“In 1976, I came to GCC to teach business law. In 1983, I became a member of the board of trustees.” Holmes said.
This is his 20th year on the board, and he was ready to continue his GCC commitment. “This is not the time to change captains,” Holmes said.
In his 40-year career in education, Pilgreen said he knows “from the inside out what we are facing [budget cuts].”
He was a former high school principal and has served on the Board of Trustees since 1995. “I know that staff, students and faculty must be incorporated in all budget cut decisions. It is going to be an extremely difficult situation, and I have the experience for this process,” Pilgreen said.
The hopefuls also had the task of answering questions that were prepared by ASGCC members, students, faculty, and others in attendance.
For example, they were asked their perceptions of the college and how they would change the college.
“Most people have the perception, `GCC is the best-kept secret in Glendale,’ I think that’s wrong, everyone should know the great things the institution has to offer,” Najarian said.
“We have many strengths, but as a weakness, we need to put a lid on our growth dollar,” Holmes said. “The college should put a cap on the enrollment numbers,” he added.
“They should stop being concerned with their growth, because there is no money to support so many students.”, Holmes said.
Another question, written by the audience and presented by Antonio Patti, president of ASGCC, asked the candidates what they do not want to see cut in the ongoing budget cut crises.
“I believe that it is important to keep the core classes [English, math, science] but we must also keep student services such as the Health Center, counseling and the library,” Burke-Kelly said.
Najarian, who agreed with his fellow candidates, said, “It is important to keep the core programs. It is also important to keep the ESL program. This allows immigrants of the community to become productive members of society.”
“I also want to keep the core programs,” Holmes said. “We need to identify unnecessary programs that are outside of the core and cut out those programs. Some programs are fantastic but expensive, and those are going to be the first to go.”
Pilgreen agreed. “It is going to have to happen,” he said. “It is the only way that we [GCC] will survive.”
The last two questions in the forum pertained to the “human interest” side of the board.
Patti asked, “Do you think the board should have the right to make a statement, or stand, in worldevents/political issues?”
“I think the board is here to maintain fiscal soundness and integrity,” Gabrielian said.
Pilgreen agreed with Gabrielian, “The community elects us to provide financial issues, not political issues.” Najarian and Burke-Kelly agreed with Gabrielian as well, with Burke-Kelly stating, “I support free speech, but our job is to set financial issues.”
The forum was wrapped up, with one last “human interest” question regarding the compatibility of each candidate with the rest of the board.
Najarian responded, “My ego basically does not exist. The Board of Trustees should act as a whole, not as individuals.”