BENTONVILLE — As voters in Benton and Washington County head to the polls during early voting through election day Nov. 6, they will see a race on the ballot that is not normally there in a standard election.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s entire Board of Trustees is up for election this year as the board will be comprised of zoned positions for the first time in the college’s history. There are two contested races and two positions that have no one filed.
Scott Grigsby and Jim Parsons are vying for the district 1 position and district 2 has Johnny Haney, Daniel Shewmaker and David Wilson in a three-way race. Districts 5 and 8 are vacant and will have to be filled by governor appointment in January.
The non-contested races that must still be elected are:
District 3-Mike Shupe (current board member)
District 4-Todd Schwartz
District 6-Ric Clifford (current board member)
District 7-Amy Forrest
District 9-Joe Spivey (current board member)
• District 1 race-Bella Vista area
Scott Grigsby and Jim Parsons, both of Bella Vista, are competing for the district 1 spot.
Grisgby is the executive vice president and regional manager for Arvest Bank Group and has experience as a community college board member at the Illinois Valley Community College. He has experience both as board chair and in the hiring of a new president, Grigsby said. His community college experience, combined with his financial expertise, makes him a strong candidate for the board, he said.
“I’ve done this before,” he said “I have a good financial background and that’s good for that position where you’re a trustee of taxpayer money. I know the issues that are on the table.”
Two major tasks facing the board in the coming year are helping the transition to a new president be as seamless as possible, and dealing with financial issues, he said.
Grigsby is active on several committees at the national, international and local level.
Parsons is a retired educator who has been involved with NWACC in three capacities including instructor, administrator and board member. He served on the NWACC board for six years. He is the chairman of the Bella Vista Patriots.
Parsons said his reason for running for the position is that be believes there needs to be more board oversight of college activities and that as someone who has been a part of the college in several different capacities, he’s uniquely qualified to help provide good leadership.
“I don’t think there’s anyone with more experience,” he said.
Parsons also has a master’s degree in education with a focus on community college administration.
• District 2 race-Bentonville area
Johnny Haney, Daniel Shewmaker and David Wilson are in a race for the district 2 position, which serves part of the Bentonville School District.
Haney, who has served on the board for about 10 years, said he values what NWACC does for the region and he wants to continue being a part of that process. With much of the newly created Board of Trustees that will be seated in January including new people, it is important to have someone with experience on the board, Haney said. It’s also important to focus on maintaining an excellent faculty as the college continues to grow, he added.
“I can help with the transition to the new board and the new president,” he said.
Haney and his family have lived in Bentonville since 1983 and he is a self-employed salesman at Alliance Enterprises.
Daniel Shewmaker is retired from the Arkansas Air National Guard after 32 years of service, including leadership positions. He now manages Jack’s Ranch, the Shewmaker’s family cattle ranch. His parents, the late Jack Shewmaker and Melba Shewmaker have been involved with NWACC through programming consulting and philanthropic efforts.
“Our family has had ties with NWACC since it started,” he said.
Shewmaker said he’s interested in helping the college on the board level, including working with the new president to create a sense of continuity within the organization. He would high levels of community involvement, understanding of organizational leadership and a fiscal conservative background to the position.
“I understand what it takes to lead an organization to the next level,” he said. “I can give back to the community and make sure that the community college is successful now and in the future.”
David Wilson has a doctorate in higher education administration and teaches at NWACC. His experience includes working with the highly detailed and complicated higher education budgeting system, which varies noticeably from the business budgeting process, he said.
“I understand the budgets better than most,” he said. “I also understand how decisions can affect the different (parts) of campus.”
Wilson said that has a fiscal conservative, he’s concerned that the college has increased tuition four years in a row. Combined with the effects of the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship, the college is positioning itself to no longer be as affordable.
“Community college education should be affordable and transferable anywhere,” he said.
Wilson said he is highly student focused and has a strong understanding of the needs of both students and faculty.
THE NEW BOARD
Until this year, all of the board positions were at-large positions but state law requires that any district with at least a 10% minority population must be elected by zones rather than at-large positions. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the college’s district, comprised of the Bentonville and Rogers school districts, has an average of a 17% Hispanic population.
During the new board’s first meeting, the members will draw for length of terms. Once each position is assigned a length of term, the governor can then appoint someone to the two unfilled positions.
There is an empty seat on the current board of trustees after Board Member Hadley Hindmarsh resigned a few weeks ago. Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said there is no plan to appoint someone to that position for the remainder of 2012. That empty, at-large position will in effect dissolve with the creation of the new board.
Any person appointed by the governor to an elected position must run for the office at the next regular election – in this case that will be 2014. If the person in either appointed zone draws a four-year term, they will only serve the first two years of that four-year term and they must run again to stay in the position. If the positions draw a two-year term, they will serve that term and the position will automatically come up for election after the two years, DeCample explained.
Although many candidates have expressed an interest in helping with choosing the new president and easing that transition, the new board will not be officially involved with that process. If the current plan continues, the board will interview the four remaining presidential candidates this month and a decision will be made by the end of 2012.
Steven Hinds, executive director of public relations and marketing, said any candidate who is not now on the board is welcome to attend the public forums and get to know the candidates in that manner and voice their opinion on who they believe to be the strongest candidate. The candidates not on the board cannot make any binding votes, however.
The series of forums will be Nov. 5 and Nov. 6
The four finalists are:
• Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, Chancellor, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark campus
• Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson, President, Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College
• Dr. Anthony Kinkel, President, Wichita (Kan.) Area Technical College
• Dr. Carol Spencer, Executive Director, Academic Program Articulation Steering Committee (Arizona)
Each day the College will host two candidates. According to a press release from the college, the current schedule of open forums is as follows:
8 to 9:15 a.m. – Student Center 108 (Kinkel)
8:30 to 9:45 a.m. – Burns Hall, White Auditorium (Spencer)
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Student Center 108 (Spencer)
1 to 2:30 p.m. – Student Center 108 (Kinkel)
8 to 9:15 a.m. – Student Center 108 (Jorgenson)
8:30 to 9:45 a.m. – Burns Hall, White Auditorium (Blondin)
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Student Center 108 (Blondin)
1 to 2:30 p.m. – Student Center 108 (Jorgenson)
The locations are on the NWACC campus in Bentonville. Any changes to the schedule will be posted online and the schedule will be available at the reception desks in Burns Hall and the Student Center.