Merced College board to select new trustee in December

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comNovember 23, 2012 

Despite failing to do so earlier this week, the Merced College Board of Trustees is expected to fill its final vacancy during its meeting next month, school officials said Wednesday.

The board failed to appoint one of two candidates, Michael Amabile and Joe Gutierrez, for the post during its meeting Tuesday night. Area 5, Los Banos, Trustee Eugene Vierra submitted his resignation last month.

Vierra's resignation goes into effect Dec. 5. His term expires fall 2014.

Three new elected trustees -- Wayne Hicks, Gary Arzamendi and Jean Upton -- will be sworn at the Dec. 4 board meeting.

"The new board (will) be selecting the Area 5 trustee at its December meeting," said Robin Shepard, a spokesman for Merced College.

Concerns were raised by some about the outgoing trustees voting to appoint a trustee with whom they will not work with. A letter by the Faculty Association at Merced College was read during the meeting.

Keith Law, president of the association, said their concern was that the outgoing board was going to select the new trustee instead of the new board.

"Why wouldn't you just wait nine days and let the new trustees" make the appointment? he asked. "Why wouldn't they want the new board make such an important decision on who's going to work with them for the next two years?"

The Merced College Board of Trustees will appoint a trustee to represent Los Banos during its Dec. 4 meeting.

After Vierra submitted his resignation, the board had two options: to appoint a trustee to finish Vierra's term or hold a special election that could have cost the college anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000.

There were three motions on Tuesday night and they all lacked a majority of votes, said Robin Shepard, spokesman for the college. The first motion was to select Amabile as the trustee for Area 5, the second and third motion were to select Gutierrez for the post, he said.

Trustee Lewis Braxton didn't vote for any of the motions and Vierra abstained his vote. Vierra said that by law an outgoing trustee who decides to retire before his term is over is not allowed to vote.

Braxton couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.

The board needed four affirmative votes for the motion to pass, Shepard said.

Despite the board not taking the concerns into consideration, the association is relieved that by default the appointment will now by made by the new board, Law said.

"I do believe that change was absolutely necessarily," he said.

Law said the college is on a "really good path" with the new leadership.

"I really think things are looking good," he said. "You can feel it."

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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