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Candidates for COC board debate over college’s future

Discussions center on state’s financial crisis, school’s business ties

Posted: September 16, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

KHTS News Director Carol Rock, left, and The Signal's Managing Editor Lila Littlejohn go over questions they plan to ask each COC board candidate during a debate hosted by SCVTV and The Signal on Wednesday.

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Candidates running for two open seats on the College of the Canyons board on Wednesday laid out their plans for addressing state budget cuts and outlined their goals if elected to the Santa Clarita Community College District on Nov. 3.

During the relaxed debate at the local SCVTV television studio, candidates discussed finding ways to enhance business partnerships, lead the institution through the state's budget crisis and get local schoolchildren thinking about their college futures.

"This is an opportunity to call on the local business community," said local attorney Brian Koegle. "I will bring a different perspective and a different view point."

Koegle, local businessman Michael Berger, instructional aide Robin Bryce and county administrator John Dortch are running for Seat no.-1, which is being left empty by board member Ernie Tichenor. The candidates for Seat no.-3 are incumbent Joan MacGregor and Randy Moberg.

Berger pointed to the 11 years it took to plan and build the University Center and the importance of starting early.

"I'm looking to the future," Berger said. "I believe we can't stop thinking and building big."

Bryce and Dortch did not attend the debate.

In discussions between MacGregor and Moberg, the incumbent offered her experience as an asset - MacGregor was elected to the board in 1993 and is serving her fourth term. She previously served on the Sulphur Springs School District board.

Moberg, however, said the college would be better served by a fresh perspective.

He said in the troubled economic times, the college needs a new trustee that has a "new skill set and a new set of a eyes."

"I would go through that budget with a fine-tooth comb," Moberg said.

MacGregor said the college has already implemented cost-effective measures to maximize state funding.

"We are filling every seat in every class," said MacGregor, who is currently the board president.

The college has a class fill-rate of more than 90 percent.

MacGregor said she does not anticipate any layoffs of full-time employees nor furlough days and touted her experience lobbying in Sacramento on behalf of community colleges.

Her opponent Moberg responded, "I would make a lot more trips to Sacramento," adding that he would partner with VIA and local business organizations to build strength in numbers.

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