On Oct. 29, the Governing Board Candidate Forum met in the Dobson and Southern campus library at 1 pm.
Mesa Community College’s (MCC), Executive Vice President of ASMCC Travis Hueber, pulled together the event, framing it into four important questions.
Marie Sullivan, Stan Arterberry, Roc Arnett, and Tom Nerini were asked about Maricopa Community College District’s (MCCCD) system of shared governance, the elimination of meet and confer, and about the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) investigation. The HLC is currently investigating the Board in regards to management and behavior.
Other questions surrounded the loss of state funding with the fact that Maricopa is receiving zero in State Aid, as well as MCCCD’s debate to sell the Red Mountain Campus.
Marie Sullivan is running for District 3, Stan Arterberry for District 4, Tom Nerini for District 5, and Roc Arnett described as at large.
All candidates maintained similar views on the subjects. All opposed certain decisions of the current board members which included the elimination of football and elimination of meet and confer. They expressed a common support for raising MCCCD from what was phrased in one Candidate Forum question as, “a decay in MCCCD’s system of shared governance.”
“Meet and confer is not collective bargaining,” Marie Sullivan said, before emphasizing the importance of valuing MCC staff.
“Everyone must have a voice at the table,” Stan Arterberry said, adding the opinion that an MCC student should be involved in governing board decisions.
“It was poorly done,” Nerini added, noting that meet and confer was eliminated because the board reasoned it was outdated, yet they did nothing to update it before eliminating it completely.
All candidates agreed on what Marie Sullivan named, “A lack of transparency” within the current board’s decision. She pointed out that this leads to a lack of discussion or input by anyone besides board members.
“I understand there was a small task force that led to administration taking away football…” Sullivan added, saying that when she asked for more specifics about football elimination, answers became vague. Lack of transparency became prominent in this issue.
“I wanna know the hard, real cost of football,” Roc Arnett added. All agreed that if they were on the board, they would want to know the facts to this issue. Stan Arterberry said that he would have data collected from all investigations in order to determine if the decision to close football was necessary.
As to the investigation by the HLC into the current MCCCD board, Tom Nerini said that the board must be, “held accountable to the constitution.” He also supported Red Mountain Campus, something all candidates agreed on.
“As I’ve come to understand, the current problem is enrollment,” said Nerini. He emphasized the importance of working on programs at Red Mountain in order to raise attendance.
“No matter who gets elected, it’s going to be up to us, as students, to keep them accountable,” Travis Hueber said, the organizer of the forum event. “It’ll be up to us, especially after elections, to make sure they’re moving towards (a) better Maricopa and bettering MCC. Even after elections…most students like to vote and run. Vote and stand up to the governing board.”