SAN MARCOS — On Tuesday March 21, 2023, the Palomar College Governing Board held a special meeting to appoint a new trustee for the area #2 seat.
Following the resignation of former President of the Board and trustee for area #2, Christian Garcia, Palomar’s Governing Board sought to fill the empty seat. After Garcia’s resignation on Feb. 1, 2023, the Governing Board was faced with the decision of either appointing a trustee or holding a special election. During their meeting addressing Garcia’s exit, Trustee Roberto Rodriguez motioned to form an ad hoc committee to decide what to do. His motion was unanimously approved and Trustee Michelle Rains stepped up to fill the other position on the ad hoc committee.
You can read more about the Governing Board meeting following Garcia’s resignation here.
During a meeting on March 2, 2023, the Governing Board announced that the ad hoc committee agreed on doing a provisional appointment. There was some concern on the timeline of the appointment, due to it being significantly shorter than previous appointments. The reason for the shortened timeline is due to the fact that Palomar College’s spring break fell right in the middle of their schedule.
The board agreed to hold interviews of potential candidates on March 21, 2023 in order to appoint a new trustee. The board also decided that they would try to elect and swear in a candidate the same night.
The board received six applications from area #2; the candidates were Elvia Sedano, Cassandra Schaeg, Elias Velazquez, Charmaine Ferrer, Robroy Fawcett, and Dana Nuesca.
Six candidates were each given 25 minutes to answer a set of questions before the board made their decision.
The questions they asked the candidates were as follows:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and describe why you want to be a provisional member of the Palomar College Government?
The Governing Board holds two monthly meetings. In addition the Governing Board members have areas, district obligations, such as attending commencement conferences and community events. How will you ensure that you dedicate enough time to serve the district effectively?
What do you believe is the role of community college in our community?
What challenges do you see community colleges facing in the next decade?
Please discuss the you understanding of the relationship between the trustees on the board and the faculty, staff, and the students of the district.
Governing Board sets policies for the district, the superintendent/president implements policies and oversees operations. How would you respond to concern from a student, an employee, or community member?
The Governing Board has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a major goal. Please explain your experience regarding these matters.
Is there anything else that you would like share to help us make our decision?
The Governing Board wrote out nine questions in total that they planned to ask the candidates, but due to time constraints they only got through eight questions. And following their interviews, the board took a fifteen minute break before beginning deliberations.
Seeing as though the Governing Board was made up of only four trustees and one student trustees whose vote doesn’t affect Governing Board policy, an appointment required three votes. And after going through all six candidates, the board was unable obtain three yes votes on any candidates.
Since the board could not agree on a provisional appointment, talks then began on holding a special election for a provisional trustee until the next regular election. Due to the fact that the election would be taking place during an odd numbered year, the cost of an election would be up to $600,000.
The board then spoke with attorney Ronald Wenkart about the timeline and cost of having a special election. Trustee Patacsil went on to say, “I hope we as a board can come to save the district money, to come to a decision to make an appoinment. Especially in the June timeframe, and then as well as a level of being fiscally responsible to the college and not have to put out an election.”
And in order to avoid spending that much of Palomar’s money, the board motioned to reconsider candidate Cassandra Schaeg. The motion was approved and Trustees Rodriguez, Patacsil, and Rains voted yes on appointing Schaeg with Kaiser voting no on the appointment.
The motion was pushed through and Schaeg was appointed to represent trustee area #2, and will continue to serve on the board until the 2024 election.
In an interview with Palomar News, Schaeg said, “I am honored to be appointed to the Palomar Governing Board to continue the mission of encouraging students to embrace the best version of themselves and prepare them to engage with our local and global communities. As a community college graduate, entrepreneur, and advocate, I intend to continue representing Area 2 constituents and the North County community.”