New board member Birkey chosen for vacant spot, Student Trustee Avalos sworn in


Board of Trustee applicant James Cody Birkey is interviewed by the Board of Trustees to fill the vacant spot. He was rated by the board and received a total of 167 points, whereas the second and third place applicants received a total of 155 points. Photo credit: David Jenkins

Jenny Gonzalez and David Jenkins

PLL Vice President James Cody Birkey stated, “Lets build our community college together,” in his opening speech during the interview held by the Board of Trustees to fill the vacant spot left by former trustee John Paul Drayer.

On Wednesday, the board interviewed four applicants, Lorraine Neal, James Cody Birkey, Judy Roldan, and Gloria Willingham, in 20 minute segments. The interview process was set for a three minute opening statement by the applicant, the questions asked by the board members, and a two minute closing statement.

The board members asked four questions — where the applicants answered in regards to the interviewee’s added value to the board, understanding the board’s primary responsibility, the challenges the students face and the interviewee’s solutions, and finally, what the interviewee will do to improve the lack of effective community engagement.

The board members rated each applicant in two separate sections — the letter of interest and the interview — and decided to choose the applicant with the most points combined, Birkey, with a total of 167 points. The two second place candidates, Neal and Willingham, received a total of 155 points; and the fourth place candidate Roldan received 146 points.

After the meeting, Birkey said, “I tried to express the core element and put a lot of thought to what I wanted to say; but at the same time the hardest part [is] being able to build [a] consensus around key issues as we move forward is going to be one of those pieces of hard work head of us.

“There’s an enormous amount of potential and opportunity here and to not see that would be remiss.”

He said he was excited to see how the other applicants performed and it is encouraging to see the “amazing” people in the district that want to “serve the students.”

Birkey is set to take the Oath of Office at the next board meeting on June 21.

Student Trustee Raul Avalos was also sworn in at this meeting. He did not grade the board member applicants, but did present the fourth question on behalf of Trustee Salazar about community engagement.

Avalos stated, “I believe the board made the right decision when picking the new candidate that will be filling in the position,” because Birkey “seems highly [qualified]” and is involved within the community.

He also said he was both excited and nervous because it was his first day. During the interview, he said he “felt comfortable” because he also “conducts interviews when hiring new employees” for the company he works for.

“The only difference was that I did not volunteer in the grading of the candidates but I was very comfortable with the decision of the board members.”