Massa, Vodden vie for college trustee position
Glenn County voters will have the opportunity Nov. 6 to elect a trustee on the Butte-Glenn Community College District board.
Willows attorney Eugene Massa Jr., a member of the Glenn County Board of Education until the end of this year, is challenging appointed incumbent David Vodden, executive director for Thunderhill Raceway Park.
Vodden was appointed to the seven-member board two years ago when he agreed to replace the late Bill Wesley Brown.
"The voters have two good choices for this position," Vodden said at Thursday's candidates forum, sponsored by the Willows Chamber of Commerce.
Butte College has graduated about 500,000 students since it opened in 1967.
Vodden said he wants to continue the work he started two years to see that all students receive a good education.
About 70 percent of the nurses in California received their training in community colleges, Vodden said, as well as 80 percent of the state's firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians.
"There is just no way to adequately describe the importance and magnitude of Butte College in our community," Vodden said.
Massa, however, doesn't see Glenn County getting the most for the $2.1 million paid each year in taxes.
"We're getting a mere $315,000 in return," he said.
Massa said he wants Butte College to live up to its promise to bring more educational opportunities to students, particularly in the Willows area.
And while building new facilities isn't what Massa is looking to do, taking advantage of existing technology and existing classrooms to educate students here is exactly what he plans to fight for.
"We have to think out of the box," Massa said. "Everything Butte College has done (for Glenn county) is reactionary."
Vodden believes students don't want online courses, but want and deserve a classroom environment at a college campus.
He believes the focus of the board is to look after the college financially, especially now during tough economic times.
A key problem with funding is that the statewide community college system has been forced to drop classes with low enrollment, and Willows classes have historically low enrollment, Vodden said.
But Massa said now is a good time for Butte College to find a way to provide more services in Glenn County.
"If you don't provide the classes, they don't take them," he said. "(The classes) are not here."
He also noted that Butte College provides buses to students in Gridley and Biggs, while Glenn County students have to rely on inadequate public transportation.
Vodden said it is the board's duty to provide core learning opportunities to all students, which lead to certification in one of many job skills, an Associate of Science degree, and a good foundation to students who plan to transfers to four year institutions.
"You have to serve the needs of the whole student body," Vodden said.
Vodden also noted that if Proposition 30 fails to pass, he expects to see a huge impact on services, even if Butte College has fared better than other colleges around the state in the past.
Glenn County, he said, could never afford to maintain a college on its own, and that it needs a financially sound campus for all students to get the education they desire.
Massa doesn't necessarily agree with the single focus.
"We have to think of ways to bring services here," he said. "Are we happy with what we have?"
About 12,000 students attend Butte College each year, including about 1,100 Glenn County residents.
More than 1,200 students from 116 different communities, 27 states and 12 countries graduated in June.
Butte College's annual budget is about $84 million.
It is also the largest solar-powered campus in the state of California, with more than 45 percent of the campus energized with solar power.