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 race draws controversy

By Mark Bauer and Katie Hudson-Martinez/editor-in-chief and feature editor

Three TCC board of trustees positions are up for election within the next two weeks, and issues concerning the new downtown campus are shaping up to be distinguishing factors for the contested seats.

What normally is a relatively cut-and-dry process has turned into a heated contest with some parties being accused of misrepresenting the facts and others accused of hiding them.

“The candidates mailed material rife with erroneous and misleading information,” Louise Appleman, vice president of the board, said in a published letter to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But Arlington resident Jerry Pikulinski, who is challenging the seat currently held by Kristin Vandergriff in District 3, said he possessed only the information the school and the chancellor wanted delivered.

“I had earlier asked for the academic master plan because I wanted to see how many technical instructors they had at each campus and planned for the ill-fated downtown campus,” Pikulinski said.

But he never received it.

Ultimately, Pikulinski would like to cease construction on the downtown campus, put a for sale sign on the land, and use the money instead on the four existing campuses. 

Additionally, he would like to see tuition costs go down to $40 per credit hour compared to the current $50 rate, but that translates into less money being put into the TCC budget. The district’s tuition rates are already below average among community colleges in the state.

“We are predicting a 5 percent increase for enrollment next semester,” Rudy Gonzales, vice chancellor of financial services, said.

And if Pikulinski were elected and the board approved the cost cuts, Gonzales said the college would be looking at a $7 million loss.

“It would definitely have an impact,” Gonzales said. “If that’s the wish of the board, whatever the board wishes we’d work with it.”

Conrad Heede, nominated by long-standing board member Dr. J. Ardis Bell, who served on the board since its inception in 1965 and as president since 1976, believes the district needs to finish what it started and complete the downtown campus, “but doing so in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Heede said on his Web site.

Joe Hudson, also contending for the vacated seat by Bell in District 2, believes the scope of the project is unnecessary, and while in support of the campus itself, proposes cuts be made to the current plans in order to save money.

Both Hudson and Pikulinski have received campaign contributions from Larry Meeker, a critic of the downtown campus and one of the original committee members who made the TCC district possible.

District 1 will continue to be represented by uncontested Robyn Medina Winnett. State law allows uncontested races to forgo the expense of an actual election.

Early voting began Monday and will continue through May 6. Any registered Tarrant County voters who reside in District 2 or 3 may participate in the election for the district in which they live. For early voting locations, visit www.tarrantcounty.com.

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