The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Board candidates disagree on downtown campus value

Joe Hudson, left, and Conrad Heede shake hands before a candidates forum on NE Campus April 24. The two are running for the District 2 position on the TCC board of trustees to replace retiring board President J. Ardis Bell, who has served on the board since its beginning.  By Julissa Treviño/The Collegian
Joe Hudson, left, and Conrad Heede shake hands before a candidates forum on NE Campus April 24. The two are running for the District 2 position on the TCC board of trustees to replace retiring board President J. Ardis Bell, who has served on the board since its beginning. By Julissa Treviño/The Collegian

By Julissa Treviño/south news editor

Joe Hudson, left, and Conrad Heede shake hands before a candidates forum on NE Campus April 24. The two are running for the District 2 position on the TCC board of trustees to replace retiring board President J. Ardis Bell, who has served on the board since its beginning.  By Julissa Treviño/The Collegian
Joe Hudson, left, and Conrad Heede shake hands before a candidates forum on NE Campus April 24. The two are running for the District 2 position on the TCC board of trustees to replace retiring board President J. Ardis Bell, who has served on the board since its beginning. By Julissa Treviño/The Collegian

Two prospective District 2 board of trustees members debated the downtown campus and tuition costs, among other issues, during a forum last week.

The forum, sponsored by the government department on NE Campus, brought candidates for the TCC board of trustees Conrad Heede and Joe Hudson, for an informal “debate.”

The candidates each gave an opening statement, answered questions from the Cornerstone students of Doris Jones, NE government department chair, and gave a closing statement in the Galley.

Heede and Hudson, though agreeing that the cost of the college should remain affordable, had different opinions about the downtown campus.

“I think we’re spending too much money on the downtown campus,” Hudson said.

“We need to start focusing on the mission of Tarrant County College, which is to provide a quality education at an affordable price. To me, the downtown campus does not meet the TCC mission,” he said.

Heede, however, believes there is a need for the downtown campus.

“I think the college has had some hiccups in the downtown campus, but that’s something that almost was to be anticipated,” he said. “There is no bonded indebtedness … they expect that in seven years the college will have no indebtedness whatsoever.”

Hudson believes the price of tuition will inevitably increase when the downtown campus is completed.

“I don’t see that [the campus] will have any influence on the price of tuition,” Heede said.

The cost of tuition was a topic the two agreed on.

“We’re holding our tuition cost at $50 a semester hour, but we’re not doing anything about other costs, such as books and transportation,” Hudson said.

Hudson wants to reach out to Tarrant County citizens by lowering prices.

Heede agrees that the price of TCC should remain affordable but wants to increase partnerships with other programs that offer scholarships and grants. He believes the school is going in the right direction with the Stars of Tomorrow program, which gives scholarships to high school students who meet certain criteria.

They both agree that the college, which has profited from natural gas drilling from the Barnett Shale, is doing the right thing by using that money to help students pay for tuition.

Hudson, who is originally from Arkansas, has held positions in the Arkansas State Legislature, in economic development centers, and the Chamber of Commerce. He has spent 10 years in Texas.

Heede moved to northeast Tarrant County more than 35 years ago. He has experience in civic and community affairs, business, economics and real estate.

“I think the fact that I’ve lived in this area for so long makes me a better candidate,” he said.

Heede has been endorsed by Dr. J. Ardis Bell, who has been on the Board of Trustees since its inception.

“I respect the man tremendously. He would never ask me to vote in a certain way,” Heede said.

Hudson, when asked about his contributors, said he has no major contributors.

Hudson briefly mentioned he has received contributions from Larry Meeker, a member of the committee that created the TCC district and who strongly opposes the construction of the new downtown campus.

Ending the forum, the candidates agreed to come back to campus to talk to faculty and students.

“I think we both, whoever wins, need to make sure we know who we’re representing,” Hudson said.

Early voting for the Board of Trustees will be over May 6. The official day to vote is May 10.

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