The Los Rios Community College District, the second largest in the state, with more than 90,000 students, is extremely important to the economic health of the Sacramento region. This district is at a crossroads, with the retirement of 16-year Chancellor Brice Harris and selection of a new chancellor by the end of the year.
The district has a high-quality, stable board with a reputation as one of the best in the state. That should continue.
Area 3: Terry Cochran (Folsom and most of El Dorado County)
Cochran, who has served 16 years on the board, is a retired Aerojet executive and attorney. He has played a key role in monitoring finances and it shows. Los Rios has a strong financial base and the best bond rating of any community college in the state.
A former vice president of human resources for GenCorp, Cochran also has been instrumental in the district's good relations with faculty and staff and a culture of shared governance.
He was involved in the recruitment of Harris and his background has been extremely valuable to the current search for a new chancellor.
Challenger Sanjay Dutta is a good candidate, a product of Yuba College, who went on to electrical engineering and now a career in training managers. A lifelong learner who has a daughter in the Los Rios district, Dutta wants to get into public service. His passion is finding ways in a tough budget climate to win efficiencies so the colleges don't cut classes, making it difficult for students to graduate in timely fashion. He's a big fan of online education. The district should find some way to tap his desire to serve.
We recommend Cochran.
Area 7: Kay Albiani (southwestern Sacramento County, including Elk Grove)
Albiani is one of the most experienced public education board members in our region. She has more than three decades of service in K-12 and community college education 18 years on the Elk Grove Unified board and 16 years on the Los Rios board. She has a reputation for being one of the most demanding members of the Los Rios board, as well as being a champion for the colleges.
She is a presence on the campuses. She also brings a statewide perspective from her service on the board of governors for the community college system.
She was one of visionaries who charted the course for building six Regional Education Centers, minicampuses of 3,500 to 5,000 students each attached to one of the four main campuses. She is up on the details of each and her pride is the Cosumnes River College pairing with the Elk Grove Center, currently holding classes at Cosumnes Oaks High School, with a new minicampus scheduled to open summer 2013.
One of her many passions is career-technical education "head and hands-on learning," she says.
Challenger Kirtland Stout, a risk manager at Sacramento State, is a strong candidate.
His job deals with physical safety, insurance claims management, preparations for emergencies, but he also has a background as a roofing contractor, contract administrator for Northrop Grumman, owner of a grocery outlet. He is attuned to the "inside guts," the infrastructure of how an institution of higher education works. He would be a good candidate for the district's bond oversight committee.
Challenger Brian Sanders is in the race because he is concerned about students being shut out of classes, but he is not actively campaigning.
We recommend Albiani.