Members of the board will begin campaigning to secure their seats in this year's election.
By Emily Faith Grodin, Staff Writer
Of the seven seats on the Los Angeles Community College District's Board of Trustees, three are up for reelection this year. Gabriel Buelna, Steven Veres and Ernest H. Moreno will campaign this year in hopes of remaining on the board.
The election will be held in November of this year. Elections for the board are held every two years. Four members are chosen at one election, three members at the other. According to the board policies, “terms of trustees are staggered so that, as nearly as practical, one-half of the Trustees shall be elected at each Board Member election.” Trustees are typically elected for a four year term, while the president and vice president serve a year long term.
“Elections are about spending time having discussions about what you have done or what you plan to do,” said Buelna when asked about his feelings regarding the upcoming election. “With time, things always evolve.”
Trustees work together to face issues that the nine community colleges in the district have. The board typically meets twice a month to discuss resolutions and how to make the schools run more efficiently. Some of the topics they are currently working through include declining enrollment, poor student outcomes and student basic needs which have been severely impacted due to the pandemic. Other responsibilities include making campuses safe and accessible for all, finding ways to upgrade technology and ensuring curriculums serve students of all walks of life.
Buelna has been the board president since 2020 and a trustee since 2017. When the election was held in March of 2017, he won with 60.37 percent of the votes against incumbent Nancy Pearlman. Buelna received his bachelor’s degree from CSUN before moving on to San Diego State University to complete a master’s degree in social work. He then received his Ph.D from the School of Politics and Economics at the Claremont Graduate University. The board member still teaches history and politics in Chicana/o Studies at CSUN where he has been a faculty member since 1999.
Veres has a lengthy record serving on the board. He was first a Trustee from 2011 to 2015 before taking a two year break. In July of 2017, Veres returned to the board to begin a new five year term. In that election he won with 45.89 percent of the votes, defeating three other candidates running for the same seat. Since 2017, he has served as both president and vice president and has served as the chair of the board’s Institutional Effectiveness Committee as well as the Facilities Management Committee. Aside from serving on the board, Veres has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to State Senate Leader Kevin de Leon for 11 years.
Moreno has served on the board since 2013 after a 42 year run as a District employee. Last up for reelection in 2017, he secured his seat with 55.21 percent of the votes against candidate Dallas Fowler. Moreno served as president of both East Los Angeles College and Los Angeles Mission College after holding positions such as Director of Labor Relations and District’s Chief Negotiations, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Senior Director of Educational Services. Moreno earned his bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Los Angeles before receiving his master’s in public administration from California State University, Long Beach.
Members up for reelection and competing candidates have a myriad of strategies when it comes to campaigning. Many can benefit from having a social media presence, allowing them to connect with voters and broadcast what they might do as a trustee. Seeking endorsements from public figures or groups such as the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild — the union representing community college faculty members — can help candidates gain popularity among voters. Strategies like political mailing and phone calls are still used as well.