LCCC hosted an election forum for the LCCC Board of Trustees candidates on Oct. 2, presented by Wingspan, the Cheyenne League of Women Voters and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. There are six candidates vying for three seats up for election. The five candidates in attendance at the forum were Edwin Avery, Harmon “Bud” Davis II, Brenda Lyttle, Carol Merrell and Janine Thompson. J.C. Manalo was unable to attend, however, he offered a statement to be read on his behalf.
The forum discussions were focused primarily on funding and compensation issues. Each candidate was also given the opportunity to express why members of the community should vote for them.
All candidates support the one-mill levy on the November ballot that would ask voters for $6 million to fund a renovation of the Fine Arts Building and construction of a performing arts center.
“I’m hoping this new building will increase enrollments in music and the arts. I’m hoping it will bring more culture to the community and get the community involved out here,” said Thompson, who is an adjunct professor at LCCC.
LCCC administrators have also shown concerns about the Recreation and Athletics Center and its need for repair and improvement. Trustee candidates were asked how the college might raise money to pay for renovations to the RAC.
Davis, a retired physician, suggested authorizing an economic impact evaluation for the RAC.
“Region IX championships have had to be placed elsewhere; those would bring in, I assume, hundreds of people that would have to stay at motels, eat at restaurants, take advantage of our community and raise tax dollars,” Davis said. “The other thing the economic program might be able to divulge is how it could be rented out for other uses, again adding to the income of the college.”
Trustee candidates were also asked how they would work to keep the cost of attending LCCC affordable for students.
Avery, a former assistant professor at Johnson and Wales, University in Providence, Rhode Island, suggested holding a community fundraiser for textbooks.
“I think that would be great for the community, and I think it would be great for LCCC,” Avery said.
Trustees were asked whether they support LCCC’s recently implemented compensation model, which groups employees into different classes based mostly on industry demand.
“It is not an easy subject for us.” said Lyttle, who has been on the Board of Trustees for 12 years and is the board’s longest-sitting trustee and a former lawyer.
“If we want to provide excellent education, we also need to be competitive and be able to recruit the finest and best teachers and minds we can here in Cheyenne, Wyoming at LCCC. And we on the board always encourage (President) Dr. (Joe) Schaffer to make this an institution of excellence. That’s what we want it to be and also a choice place to work. We have to balance those decisions all the time with our budget and with our compensation policies, and sometimes it leads us to have to look at individual eight areas of education and the demand for excellent faculty and make some decisions about how we’re going to recruit the brightest and the best,” Lyttle said.
The audience was given the opportunity to pose questions to the trustee candidates. John Lyttle, former superintendent of schools in Laramie County School District No. 1, asked the candidates what they thought about the relationship between K-12 education and community colleges and how they see the relationship evolving. John Lyttle is married to Brenda Lyttle.
Merrell, who has served on the LCCC Board of Trustees for nine years, said she feels the relationship between LCCC and K-12 schools in Cheyenne is strong. She points to existent concurrent and dual enrollment programs.
“I think we collaborate and we try to work together, and I think it usually does happen that we have a good relationship with our K-12 system. I think it can always be better,” Merrell said.
Lyttle and Merrell hope to be re-elected to their seats on the board. The third seat up for election is held by Bradley Barker, who is not seeking re-election. The election will be held Nov. 6. Early voting began in September.