Who Do You Entrust To Be Mt. SAC’s Trustee

Michael+Miller+Brown%2C+a+Walnut+resident%2C+CPA%2C+and+faculty+member+of+Mt.+SAC+for+22+years%2C+joined+three+other+candidates+running+for+Mt.+SAC%27s+Board+of+Trustees+District+2+seat+at+a+forum+on+Oct.+19.+Photo+Credit%3A+Joshua+Sanchez%2FSAC.Media.

Michael Miller Brown, a Walnut resident, CPA, and faculty member of Mt. SAC for 22 years, joined three other candidates running for Mt. SAC’s Board of Trustees District 2 seat at a forum on Oct. 19. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

The race is heavily contested. The stakes are high, and money is pouring in from all sides.

The community college that is rife with recent lawsuits has an open seat in district 2, and several candidates vie for their second chance to become a trustee.

Gary Chow had emerged victorious as an interim trustee, but he was joined by Michael Miller Brown, Mansfield Collins, and Ruth Luevand for round two in the ring.

The four discussed several issues pertaining to concerns of the college and residents, but when time was called at the Friday, Oct. 19 meeting in the Walnut Senior Center several questions went unanswered.

Moderator Anthony Duarte, who himself is vying for reelection to his HLPUSD school board seat, had to call time to make room for the Walnut City Council forum he would later moderate.

But time wore thin as the balance of power at the college is in question.

While this seat only represents Covina, West Covina, north Walnut, and San Dimas, it gets to vote on policies that impact the entire campus.

Had Judy Chen Haggerty voted against Measure GO, along with Jay Chen and Laura Santos, the bond would have never made it to ballot.

That is just a minor example of the control the board of trustees has on the campus, it is within their power to fire Mt. SAC President William “Bill” Scroggins.

Back to the forum matchup.

The first contender is a little known instructor at Mt. SAC called Michael Miller Brown. He’s spent 22 years with the college and has taught at other colleges in the area.

Brown’s also a CPA by day, and has served as a founding director of the chamber of commerce.

He said he distinguished the middle name of Miller because of how common the rest of his name is. What is not common about Brown is that his business is near Amar and Amber Valley Drive, and its website is American Tax Sharks.

Returning contender Gary Chow spoke of his contributions to Mt. SAC. Chow said he had been a donor not for recognition or awards, and that he was appointed to bridge the gap between the city and its residents.

He plugged his campaign website during his introduction, which states that he has the backing of every board member except for Laura Santos. Santos supports Luevand.

The next contender, Ruth Luevand opened by describing herself as a proud mom of six, with a son currently attending Mt. SAC, and as a tough but fair negotiator.

She said she brings an outsider perspective and wants to repair the trust between the community and residents. She added that the board of trustees can and should do more. Her campaign website was not plugged.

The fourth contender, Mansfield Collins is an attorney and vocal resident. He said that there has to be a community when decisions are made at Mt. SAC, and that Mt. SAC will not fail without Measure GO.

He runs on a ticket of bringing accountability, with a law office near Badillo Street and Barranca Avenue.

Numerous issues were tackled in a one minute punchy fashion, but three key issues were raised: Measure GO, opinions on Scroggins, and financial backing.

Chow and Luevand are in support of GO, while Collins and Brown oppose it.

Chow said the measure sends a message to students that they are supported, while Luevand had concerns and reservations about the measure.

She said she was concerned that the college students may end up paying the price of passing the bond in the end.

Brown spoke of taxes at the present time, and Collins spoke of the past bonds’ costs while arguing that Mt. SAC is an outstanding school without the $750 million.

Collins questioned what was necessary to improve, and if these improvements will truly meet what students need in 20 years as needs constantly change.

Regarding Scroggins, Brown remained neutral and Luevand expressed concerns. Chow and Collins, however, were opposite sides of the coin.

Chow said that residents did not see the side of him that he did and added, “I am a full supporter of the president of the college.”

Collins complimented Scroggins’ smarts, but said he had a “my way or the highway” attitude. He added that after lawsuits he asked for Scroggins’ resignation.

Meanwhile Luevand spoke of her concerns on the relationships not being their best and said she would alleviate the discussion.

Brown called Scroggins his boss to much laughter and said, “I really don’t want to comment” before handing the microphone off.

Finally, each competitor was asked to list their sponsorship deals.

Brown told the audience he had not reached out for a lot of support and has received none.

Collins said he started late in the race, and has self funded with under $2,000 in donations.

Luevand said she had raised $15,000 from Faculty Associations and individuals.

Chow explained that he had self funded $40,000 for his own campaign, and received $9,000 from individuals.

He also made it a point to bring up that Tilden-Coil, a contracting firm that often does work with the college, offered him money.

He said he told them to give to the foundation instead of him (later citing a potential conflict of interest), but joked with the audience that he did not want to know the amount because he might have changed his mind.

While there was more to this forum, two lines stand out the most.

“A vote for me is a vote for students,” Chow said during his closing remarks.

“A vote for Chow is a vote for Scroggins,” Santos said in jest after the forum.

The next forum is at Mt. SAC in 9C on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m.