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Think the 2022 WCC Trustees Election Doesn’t Matter?

Electing community college trustees is a privilege. Some states allow appointment of community college trustees. That’s exactly why the 2022 WCC Trustees Election matters. North Carolina is one of those “appointment” states, and a disagreement of sorts is putting Cape Fear Community College back in the headlines.

The Chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, Julia Olson-Boseman, recently informed CFCC Trustee Jimmy Hopkins that she was removing him from the CFCC Board of Trustees for missing three consecutive meetings. According to Hopkins, the flap involves a behind-the scenes New Hanover County purchase of a building for CFCC’s nursing program.

Hopkins chaired the CFCC Facilities Committee and allegedly received a phone call from CFCC President Jim Morton. During the call, Morton informed Hopkins that the purchase was a done deal, and that Hopkins should lobby New Hanover County commissioners to approve the purchase. When Hopkins didn’t comply, the Chair of the New Hanover County Commissioners removed him.

Of course, the CFCC by-laws don’t permit that, and neither does North Carolina state law. For his part, Hopkins says that he had the CFCC Board’s approval to miss the meetings. Hopkins has served on the Board for 10 years.

The saga of Jimmy Hopkins and the building the New Hanover County commissioners have apparently purchased is not done. (You can learn more about this issue here.) Hopkins says that if the County Commissioners don’t come around, he will take the matter to court. The point here is that if North Carolina law allowed voters to elect their own trustees, this would not have happened.

You exercise some control with the 2022 WCC Trustees election

Exercising control over who oversees your community college is a privilege not everyone enjoys. You may think that nothing of real consequence is at stake in the 2022 WCC Trustees election. You’d be wrong. Washtenaw County will generate about $375M (or more) in property tax revenues between 2023 and 2028.

The Trustees, could divert that voter-approved operational money to literally anything. That includes things with no substantial connection to WCC’s operations.

The Health and Fitness Center at WCC is a good example of this. Despite that, the building has consumed literally millions of dollars that you thought you authorized to pay for education. The WCC Master Plan, which the two incumbent Trustees steered in development, calls for WCC to build a hotel, a convention center, and retail space on WCC’s campus. A hotel, a convention center, and retail spaces have nothing to do with WCC’s operation. Nonetheless, your “operational millage” will guarantee the debt on all three if the WCC Trustees go through with their cockeyed Master Plan.

The other problem -of course – is that there will be little you can do about it once the Trustees move forward with their plan.

The time to act on this is right now.

Photo Credit: Karen Bryan, via Flickr