Robinson, De La Cruz go to Gav

Gavilan College Board of Trustees incumbents Elvira Robinson and
Laura Perry took the clear lead for their seats early today while
Lucha Ortega and James De La Cruz battled it out in an extremely
tight race for the remaining one of two district seats representing
San Benito County.
Gavilan College Board of Trustees incumbents Elvira Robinson and Laura Perry took the clear lead for their seats early today while Lucha Ortega and James De La Cruz battled it out in an extremely tight race for the remaining one of two district seats representing San Benito County.

Seven candidates vied for three seats on the board. One position was to represent the district’s Morgan Hill constituency and two were to represent San Benito County. A fourth open seat in Gilroy will be filled by Gilroy resident Deb Smith who ran unopposed. Smith will be re-appointed to her seat by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

As midnight approached Tuesday, Ortega and De La Cruz kept flip-flopping on their election return results for Trustee Area 3, or San Benito County, with De La Cruz finally taking the lead.

Late Tuesday night, all precincts in San Benito were counted and De La Cruz had 2,948 votes while Ortega had 2,730 votes. In Santa Clara County with all precincts counted, De La Cruz had 5,280 votes and Ortega had 4,985 votes.

“I feel like I have an accomplishment in front of me,” De La Cruz said. “I can’t enjoy it because Gavilan is going to have some issues they’re going to have to face in the upcoming fiscal year. At the same time, I feel joy because it was a very exhaustive and competitive race, because I was running against four other very highly qualified individuals. I applaud them for their efforts.

“It was so close. It could have gone either way,” De La Cruz added. “That tells you the constituents liked us both, but I hope they voted for me for my background in accounting.”

He said his accounting skills would be helpful as Gavilan faces some tight financial years.

Around midnight, Ortega said, “I feel OK, but I’m thinking it’s so close it’s premature to declare victory or defeat.”

Ortega said she had spent the evening watching TV news and checking the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Web site for election results.

Ortega was appointed as an interim board member when Jean Ottmar left the board last November.

Perry took the lead in Trustee Area 2, the Morgan Hill area, after midnight with all precincts completed in Santa Clara County. Perry had 10,085 votes or 66.8 percent of the votes in Santa Clara County, facing off against Mark Hinkle who had 5,012 votes.

In San Benito County, Perry received 5,658 votes and Hinkle received 2,662 votes.

“I’m just thrilled to have the confidence of the whole Gavilan district,” Perry said.

Perry said she is most proud of opening the Hollister and Morgan Hill satellite sites during her 10-year tenure on the board. Her greatest Gavilan-related disappointment is that the image of the college “has not been enhanced,” she said.

“One of the things I feel most proud of in the last 10 years (on the board) is the satellite campus that will move into the new Community Center in January,” she said. “That’s the highlight for me on serving on this board.”

The selection of Steven Kinsella as the new president of Gavilan is also another positive for the college because his expertise in finance will help the community college through some budgetary dark waters in the next few years, she said.

“The number-one issue is the budget, and that’s reflected in the president we just hired,” she said.

Hinkle said Perry’s position as an incumbent gave her a strong position to win the seat. He said he would try again in the next election when board president Leonard Washington’s term expires.

“I’m just a political junkie,” he said. “Congratulations to Perry. I plan to be at the next board meeting, and I’ll congratulate her personally.”

Robinson received 4,049 votes in San Benito County and 7,522 votes in Santa Clara County. She has served on the board for Area 3 for the past 12 years. She helped establish the Latino Advisory Committee to the Gavilan president, and she said she is a voice for the Latinos who attend the college.

She was asleep at 10 p.m., but her husband Vernon Robinson said, “I’m very proud of her.”

Rito Ramirez, who had a combined total of 2,472 votes in both counties, said that he learned a lot in his first run at political office, and he’ll think about running again in two years when board member Tom Breen’s position is up.

“I just wish the top vote-getters the best of luck,” he said. “Congratulations to whoever wins the seat.”

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