DIXON – Funding and a changing role in the community are among the priorities of candidates for the Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees on the April 9 ballot.
Two board seats are open.
Incumbents Andrew Bollman and William J. Simpson are seeking re-election. They face a challenge from Paula Meyer, former dean of business services for the college, and Judith Ann Gordon, a recent graduate.
Bollman and Simpson believe a plan to shift the pension burden from the state to local schools and taxpayers – on top of reduced state aid – could cripple the school.
"It's going to put a huge burden on the college," Simpson said. "We'd have to look to our students and taxpayers if we want to keep the school open."
Meyer and Gordon agree the board will have some tough decisions ahead.
"They'll have to decide what direction they want the college to go in," Meyer said. "They might not be able to provide everything they have in the past; they might have to focus on doing a few things really well. [The college] can't be everything and do everything."
All the candidates agree Sauk plays an integral role in the community: It not only prepares students for the next step in their college career, but also reacts to economic downturns and employment fluctuations with programs and classes to prepare people for new and changing jobs.
Bollman, Simpson and Gordon believe the college must maintain that position and continue to foster relationships with area businesses.
"We need to keep the pulse on the community, as to what it needs, whether it's retraining, more technological training, whatever," Bollman said. "We need to know, so we can [respond] right away."
"That's the best thing about the college," Gordon added.
Meyer argues the college should be among the local organizations that work to bring in new industry.
"I think it could have some more involvement in trying to expand the opportunities for this area," she said. "It's generally always responded. It should really be the one bringing something in."
Family: Wife, Rochelle, a special education teacher at Rock Falls High School; son, Asher, 2.
Education: Graduated from Walnut High School; associate degree from Sauk Valley Community College; bachelor's degree in English from Augustana College; law degree from Northern Illinois University.
Occupation: Attorney; former Lee County assistant state's attorney.
Government experience: Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees chairman; Illinois Community College Trustees Association Executive Board member; Illinois Community College Trustees Association Government Relations and Public Policy Committee chairman; Association of College Trustees Association voting congress member; and Lee County Health Department Board president.
Family: Husband, Don; children Eva, 17, Paul, 15.
Education: Bachelor's degree in fashion design, master's degree in accounting, both from Northern Illinois University.
Occupation: Dixon's finance director, former dean of business services at Sauk Valley Community College.
Government experience: None.
Judith Ann Gordon
Family: Husband, Don; daughters Elizabeth, Jennifer and Julia; eight grandchildren.
Education: Graduated from Rock Falls High School; associate degree from Sauk Valley Community College.
Government experience: None.
William J. Simpson
Family: Wife, Deanna; son, Scott, 20.
Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology and chemistry and dental degree from Creighton University.
Government experience: Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees member (1983-present); former Morrison Economic Development Board member; former Morrison Community Hospital Board member.