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Faculty union assigns stamp of approval

The Palomar Faculty Federation, the college’s faculty union, has backed three of the six candidates running for the college’s governing board in the upcoming election.

Nina Deerfield, a governing board candidate, and governing board incumbents John Halcon and Nancy Hensch have the support and backing of the faculty union, according to its Co-President Shannon Lienhart. Trustees for Palomar’s Governing Board serve four-year terms and create policy on campus such as the approval of the college’s budget and the approval of hiring faculty and staff.

Lienhart said that the three candidates were advocates for public education and had a focus in supporting student access to education. The board’s decision to back the aforementioned candidates was from the skills they process and their ability to handle the large learning curve the board requires.

“We discuss the merits and it’s often contentious, but that’s the way democracy works,” Lienhart said.

Union officials said one of the reason they are backing Deerfield is her advocacy for public education and her attempts to secure funding for public schools against a charter school movement in Escondido.

Halcon and Hensch are up for re-election and received the union’s backing from their performance during their first term on the board.

“They’re seasoned and they know what their doing,” Leinhart said. “They’re experience on the board is very valuable.”

The union’s decision not to back the other three candidates for governing board varied. Lienhart said that Keith Mikas’ lack of a ballot statement depicted him as not being a strong contender and Tim Fillinger had little to no background in education.

Candidate Rosemarie Dishman is a former governing board trustee and served one term in 2008-2012 where she lost re-election. Lienhart said that her lack of involvement within the board and her refusal to meet with faculty were reasons for the union not backing her candidacy.

Wendy Nelson, a communications professor, believes that students on campus have a responsibility to be aware of the trustees on the governing board.

“They have some power here and they make decisions that effect the daily operations of the college,” Nelson said. “They make decisions on financial matters and also leadership matters. That’s who makes decisions on our president, their salary, and their benefits.”

Lienhart said the faculty union’s concern was to keep the college a robust and full service college where if a candidate didn’t support certain programs on campus such as the arts then a repercussion could be the loss of the program and a variety of course offerings.

“What we want is we want to make sure we have governing board candidates that support a full, robust vision of a college education and we believe that these candidates do,” Leinhart said.

Matthew O’Brien, a psychology professor, shared similar sentiments to Nelson on the importance of students to be aware of the college’s governing board members. He conveyed that students have the opportunity to have their viewpoints shared with the trustees to better reflect the needs they face on campus. A similar exchange of ideas from the trustees to students in their policy making is also a beneficial opportunity he added.

The faculty union will also be putting their support toward Proposition 55, a tax extension from 2012 to continue funding for state education and healthcare.

“We’re definitely backing Proposition 55 because we need that to keep the funding for our schools and to make sure our programs stay intact,” Lienhart said.

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