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Our View: COC’s board needs new ideas & fresh passion

Local elections

Posted: October 17, 2009 7:47 p.m.
Updated: October 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Rarely is a decision so difficult as the one facing voters in the Santa Clarita Community College District.

The College of the Canyons board is divided into separate offices, so you’ll be electing two people to the Board of Trustees Nov. 3. There is more than one qualified candidate for each office.
 
COC Office 1
Four names appear on the ballot for seat No. 1, but we believe there are two outstanding candidates seeking to replace Ernie Tichenor, who is stepping down after many years of service. Koegle appears to be a real up-and-comer. He’s an attorney who was recently named a partner in the Poole and Shaffery law firm.

Koegle has youth on his side. Like Berger, Koegle attended COC, and he counts it as an asset that he attended school there more recently. After leaving town for his law degree, he returned in 2004 and got involved with the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

He also serves on the board of the SCV Bar Association, the SCV Youth Project and Hands On Santa Clarita, chairing “Make A Difference Day” in 2007.

As it relates directly to COC, Koegle serves on the Measure M Citizens Oversight Committee and the COC Foundation board, which raises money for the college.

Koegle believes his background as an attorney positions him to be a consensus builder, and if elected, he wants to continue the good job he says the college board has been doing.

Mike Berger’s history of volunteerism in Santa Clarita is considerable and much respected. The limited space in this column prevents a full list of his service and accomplishments.  

While Koegle was a student at COC, Berger had already chaired the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and had a decade under his belt as a COC foundation board member.

Today, 20 years of foundation board membership later, Berger — a stockbroker with Smith Barney by trade — can point to a track record of lifting the foundation from a $50,000 fundraising operation to more than $1 million a year for the benefit of the college. In between, his foundation board colleagues elected him president four times.

Longtime Rotary Club, Child & Family Center and Michael Hoefflin Foundation board member, Berger is perhaps best known for his role as a Santa Clarita planning commissioner, a position he held until 2008.

It speaks volumes to know Berger was appointed to the Planning Commission by three different City Council members. That just doesn’t happen. It never happened before or since.

That’s the kind of leader Mike Berger is.

Judging from dozens upon dozens of his endorsements, ranging from county Supervisor Mike Antonovich to COC football coach Garett Tujague, other community leaders recognize it, too.

That’s the kind of leadership COC needs as it marches into an uncertain future of enrollment and curriculum challenges and further state budget cuts.

It needs the type of person who can build beneficial business partnerships in our valley and raise money for the college — as Berger has done for many years.

It needs someone with the thoughtful, steady demeanor of Berger, who can work productively with board members who won’t always agree with him — just as he did on the Planning Commission.

We look forward to seeing Brian Koegle’s continued involvement in making the Santa Clarita Valley an even better place to live, work and get an education, and we look forward to seeing his name on the ballot in the future.

For this one seat the voters have two good candidates, but a choice must be made and we believe Mike Berger is the best choice for COC.
 
COC Office 3

In seat No. 3, it’s a choice between an accomplished community leader who also heads up a major local business organization and a 16-year incumbent.

This time around, we’re going with the business leader, Randy Moberg.

Some people may jump to the conclusion that we think the incumbent, Joan MacGregor, has been doing a poor job.

That is not what we’re saying at all.

We are saying that given the challenges facing COC in the next four years, we believe it is time for a new board member with new ideas, proven business skills, respected leadership and fresh passion.

MacGregor herself has noted that finance and securing money for the college will remain a pressing priority. That said, we believe Moberg brings to the table a cache of financial experience that can help ensure COC’s continued success.

No question, after 16 years of service, MacGregor has a thorough understanding of the college’s budget situation. But if institutional knowledge were the sole qualifier for office, John McCain would be president today.

We asked MacGregor why she feels she is a better fit for COC than her opponent. She said she “knows school finance,” has the endorsements of elected officials including U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, knows how to lobby for the college in Sacramento and Washington, and is a local business owner. (She runs a family-owned company that manages about 75 local residential properties.)

As chief executive officer of LBW Insurance, Moberg brings to the table some 30 years of business and financial experience.

His leadership in the business community is widely recognized, having been elected chairman of the board of the Valley Industrial Association. He also serves on the COC Foundation board.

In a recent editorial board meeting, Moberg pointed to the leadership of Chancellor Dianne Van Hook as a key factor in the success of the college and recognized that the proper role of the board is to oversee and advise. He stressed his qualities as a team player and consensus-builder.

Moberg is passionate and determined about strengthening partnerships between the college and the local business community. He has the right connections not only to help attract money to COC, but also to forge mutually beneficial relationships between educators and SCV and regional business leaders.

Moberg’s name may be unfamiliar to you because he hasn’t previously run for local office.

But he’s not unknown by many of the top leaders in the community. The Signal’s executive team has worked with him and other business leaders on local economic development projects.

We’ve seen Moberg in action.

We recognize his abilities.

One more issue deserves a mention, since you might assume it clouds our thinking. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. You decide.

Moberg is enthusiatic about resurrecting COC’s journalism program.

The demise of the Canyon Call newspaper was only one step in scaling back the journalism program and folding it into the media arts curriculum.

We’re realists. Print journalism is not the be-all, end-all it once was. But news gatherers, quality writers and editors will be needed to generate trusted content no matter how it is delivered — in print or online.  

We know this.

That’s why The Signal now publishes on multiple delivery platforms, including an exact digital copy of the newspaper at www.TheSignalEedition.com. We plan on remaining the SCV’s top choice for local news, sports and entertainment for a long time to come.

But we digress.

Our concern is not with the preservation of a school newspaper. That’s only the delivery method. What concerns us is the preservation of a program that teaches young people how to become competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers.

The program is called “journalism.”

Sadly, COC cut it — ostensibly because only seven students enrolled in it.

No. We are not advocating the salvation of programs with seven enrollees. The college can’t afford that.

What we are advocating — and what we want to see on the board — is the basic understanding that market needs will dictate that some programs must continue.

The alternative is to live in a community where nobody knows how to write a competent news story.

You got a problem with the reporting in The Signal today? Imagine not having it at all.

Randy Moberg understands the relationship between business and market needs and the role a top community college like COC plays in educating and providing a qualified workforce.

There is nothing easy or fun about the decision for COC board — either Office 1 or Office 3. In fact, voters are blessed and should be thankful that they can choose among competent and qualified candidates.  

On Election Day, when it comes down to one choice for each seat, Mike Berger and Randy Moberg are the best choices.

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