Lewis and Clark college board embraces change
As the newest members of the Lewis and Clark Community College Board of Trustees, Julie Johnson, Charles Hanfelder and Kevin Rust are looking to bring about a level of single-mindedness they believe has been missing for far too long.
“I was asked if I would be interested in running because people were concerned with how much property taxes have increased over the last 20 years,” Johnson told Metro East Sun. “Everybody is concerned with all the spending.”
Hanfelder, who appeared on yard signs with Johnson and Rust leading up to Election Day, expresses a similar sentiment in recounting their campaign motivations and now in articulating their mission as elected officials.
“I’ve had concerns about spending for a while,” he added. “I’ve long felt it was a little excessive, especially with the college’s debt already at close to $130 million. Then spending this year is $4 million more than income, and student population is still decreasing.”
That’s where the newly empowered trio is hoping to have some of their most impactful influence.
“Three of the four top administrators here have some of highest salaries in the state and that was another red flag,” Johnson added. “A lot of the things the college is doing I’m concerned are not related to educating students. Things like buying a lot of property and renovating it. That’s a noble goal, but I’m not sure a community college is the right vehicle to be doing that. Anything I look at, the question is, 'How does it help our students and how does it help employers in the area who need trained workers?'”
With the support of the community, Hanfelder said he thinks his slate is capable of producing great results.
“The community has the same concerns we have,” he said. “I think we have to take a hard look at what’s been approved and what value it brings. It’s like being a doctor, where you don’t know what you might find, just that you need to open things up to see what’s really there.”