By Melissa Cano
La Habra Journal
The upcoming election welcomes both a familiar name and a new candidate running for the North Orange County Community College District Area 7 Board of Trustee position.
The incumbent, M. Tony Ontiveros of Anaheim, faces challenger Monika Koos of La Habra in a challenge to represent the area that covers La Habra, large portions of Yorba Linda, Brea and La Habra Heights.
The seven–member Board of Trustees guide and institute polices that maintain the general operation of the three schools within the district, Cypress College, Fullerton College, and the School of Continuing Education.
Trustee candidates are no longer elected district-wide, but by the voters of the area in which they are running to represent. In Area 7, Ontiveros and Koos hope to bring their respective ideas to the Board of Trustees.
A board member since 1999, Ontiveros wishes to continue his service to the community by seeing that the colleges follow their mission statements, including transferring students to universities, providing basic skills to the community, and providing career technical education.
If re-elected, Ontiveros said that he will work more closely with the business communities to see what type of skills are needed from college students in order to better prepare them for a career, and allow businesses to continue to flourish within the district.
Ontiveros believes that stronger relationships with K-12 districts need to be built to encourage student success and create an even smoother transition into community colleges.
“I want students to be successful with their education and in life,” stated Ontiveros, “I am thankful this district allowed me to be successful and I want to give back so that others may also benefit from the colleges.”
While Ontiveros sees the district’s strengths as maintaining a balanced budget, living within the district’s means, and having the number one transfer rate to California State University, Fullerton within the local area, he also realizes that issues still need to be addressed.
“Trying to serve students and keeping them focused and committed to their education,” is a constant struggle that the district is dealing with said Ontiveros.
He added that a goal is to get students through community college quickly while also taking their education seriously, so that room can be made for the next generation of students.
The challenger, Koos, sees different strengths and weaknesses that the district possesses and that she has the skills and experiences to help address them, which is the primary reason she decided to run for Area 7.
“I became concerned about district issues and interested in running after learning that two of the state’s premiere schools which are in our district – Cypress and Fullerton colleges – were threatened with losing their accreditation,” Koos said.
She feels that it is time the voters were given a choice to elect a “fresh voice” onto the NOCCCD Board of Trustees.
Koos acknowledges that the district has been fortunate in issuing bonds in order to improve campus facilities that were in much need of renovation.
The great full-time and part-time faculty of the campuses have not gone unnoticed by Koos either; she feels that it is important that the district compensate them competitively in order to help keep them involved with the NOCCCD students.
However, while Koos feels that these matters are important, she sees the greatest issue facing the district is student overcrowding that is due to continuous tuition increases at the CSU and UC level. The tuition increases cause more students to attend community colleges prior to transferring to a university.
Koos believes she should be elected in order to bring creative solutions to problems the district faces currently and will in the future.
“I will be the voice of innovation for the college district,” Koos stated. “I feel the voters finally have a choice and deserve a board that is not complacent to accept business as usual.”
With the election just under two weeks away, both Ontiveros and Koos promise to represent Area 7 to the best of their abilities helping to bring the Board of Trustees to its highest potential.
Each candidate brings a different voice and a unique sense of reasoning to the board, yet both have a similar goal in mind, student success.