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MCC Board: Jenner, Smith, Walsh, Wilbeck

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 5:25 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 9:47 a.m. CDT

When most McHenry County voters go to the polls, they'll have a choice of nine candidates for three six-year terms on the McHenry County College Board of Trustees.

Having three times the number of candidates than available seats gives voters plenty of good choices. Perhaps it also signals that some are unhappy with the direction the board is going and change is being demanded.

Regardless, voters must get informed about the candidates so they can make informed choices when they cast their ballots.

MCC is a vital community asset that must continue to address the county's education and workforce needs.

Like all higher education institutions, MCC has faced challenges recently. Declining state funding, rising tuition costs, and a proposed $42 million expansion plan are just a few things that have kept MCC in the news recently.

With these challenges come opportunities, and the chance to emerge stronger than before. That's why we are endorsing Chris Jenner, Mike Smith, Molly Walsh and Thomas Wilbeck.

All four advocate for greater transparency, building stronger relationships between the college and local businesses, and getting taxpayer approval to pay for any potential expansions. We agree that all of these are essential.

Each of these candidates also would bring unique perspectives to the board.

Jenner has spent eight years on the Cary School District 26 Board, where he has focused much of his time on “good governance” policies. He advocates that the college first look at using exitsting vacant space in the county before undertaking a new facility, and for a careful examination of expenses to see where savings can be found.

As president of Plexus Financial Services, Smith's fiduciary experince would help the board manage its finances. Having spent four years on the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation Board, he has insights into the college's needs when it comes to finances, financial aid and efforts to raise money privately.

Walsh would bring with her the viewpoint of a college employee, having spent more than two decades working at MCC. She advocates for revisiting master plans every few years, so they can be adapted to the changing times, and wants to expand MCC's efforts with area manufacturing employers.

Wilbeck also would bring financial experience to the board, having spent much of his career in the financial services sector. He would look to utilize existing space on campus better, and promote transparency and enhancing the college's relationship with the community.

Also running for the seats are incumbents Carol Larson and Barbara Walters, and challengers William Scott Alford, Arne Waltmire, and Erik Sivertsen.

Note to readers: The Northwest Herald Editorial Board's original endorsement for McHenry County College's Board of Trustees included candidate Chris Jenner. When the McHery County Clerk's Office announced that Jenner and another candidate could not be on the ballot because the two simultaneously filed to run for other seats, we removed Jenner from our list of endorsed candidates, expecting that he no longer would be on the ballot. But a judge has since ruled that Jenner can remain on the ballot. In light of that, we add him back to our list of endorsed candidates. As a result, four candidates are endorsed. Note that voters can choose only three at the polls.

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