The race for the Yosemite Community College District Area 3 seat was too close to call based on preliminary results Tuesday evening, with just over 500 votes separating incumbent Abe Rojas and challenger Billy Holly.
“I figured it would be close; however, I feel comfortable and happy to be where I am. I’m staying positive,” said Rojas.
The YCCD Board governs two comprehensive two-year colleges —Modesto Junior College and Columbia College. The district covers a 4,500 square mile area and serves a population over 550,000 encompassing all of two counties (Stanislaus and Tuolumne) and parts of four others (Calaveras, Merced, San Joaquin and Santa Clara). Area 3 encompasses Turlock, Denair and Hughson.
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Rojas received a total of 5,196 votes, making up 45.8 percent of total votes cast. Rojas has served on the Board for just over 20 years.
If elected, Rojas said that he plans to help the Board hire a new chancellor to take current YCCD Chancellor Joan Smith’s place after she retires in January. He also hopes to aid the district through the accreditation process, which is due for review in August 2017.
“I think I have the experience and the knowledge to carry on,” said Rojas. “I work hard at trying to be a good trustee and there is a lot happening in the next two years that is going to take a lot of studying to accomplish.”
Trailing Rojas by just over 500 votes, MJC adjunct professor Holly received 4,681 votes, or 41.2 percent of total votes by 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Holly said that if elected, he would work to increase transparency within the district, citing an incident when administration threw away 52,000 books, which is about 70 percent of the total collection at MJC. He also said he would aim to grant due process rights for students and part-time faculty.
“Whether or not I win, I intend to continue to fight for due process for faculty and students and transparency,” said Holly. “The Board has been rubber stamping administration and administration was against free speech and didn’t care about books and didn’t care about education and didn’t care about due process.
“I ran for the Board because I figured it was a more effective way of making MJC the college it can be,” continued Holly.
Nonprofit legislative aide Kevin Sabo received 1,445 votes, or 12.7 percent of total votes, for the YCCD Area 3 seat as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.