To hear some of the candidates tell it, College of DuPage is in a crisis of confidence: Unflattering headlines abound about lawsuits; unexplained changes in top leadership; hardball efforts to remove candidates from the ballot, followed by candidates sitting in judgment of other candidates. And in the election of four trustees - three to a six-year term and another for a single two-year spot - suggestions of outside influences abound, from national party influences to political committees funded by COD vendors to the teachers union pouring support into some candidates' campaigns. The rumors that fly about are even more disturbing, but perhaps that's the way of the world in one of the largest community college districts in the nation.
It's hard - very hard - to get a handle on the nuance amid all the complaints and, especially, determine what among all the gamesmanship is actually harming the college. The complaints clearly target the incumbents, in this case board President Micheal McKinnon, seeking a six-year term, and Mark Nowak, running for the two-year seat. Both are intelligent men, and point to their efforts to control costs and the size of the college's administrative staff. But we're troubled by the two sitting in judgment of ballot challenges to no fewer than six candidates, and the fact that all but one of the challenges came from a retiring board member who has a business relationship with McKinnon. Ultimately, all but two of the challenges were not upheld.
Keeping their pledges for transparency in mind, we endorse these challengers:
For the single two-year term, Sandy Kim. A COD graduate and current student at Benedictine University, Kim understands the need to keep the school affordable while addressing the challenges of today's economy. She also would bring some diversity to the board. Also on the ballot is Jeffrey Handel, a dentist from West Chicago.
For the three six-year terms, Allison O'Donnell, Kim Savage and Tom Wendorf are recommended. Also running are Sharon Giorno, Ivan Fernandez, Michael Ledonne, Lisa Wehr, Matthew Nelson and Nancy Svoboda.
O'Donnell, another COD grad, pledges to keep the college affordable and vows to help restore the college's reputation; Savage has a wealth of experience in higher education and likewise promises to ensure financial accountability; Wendorf, who owns a local company, has a strong business background and experience in working on labor contracts.
It should be noted that three of the candidates we are recommending - Kim, Savage and Wendorf - are endorsed by the COD faculty committee. We hope our concern that any of the candidates will feel beholden to the teachers at contract time will be allayed, and, as the candidates have clearly stated, they keep the interests of the taxpayers firmly in mind, too.