Search underway to fill seat

Governing Board position vacated by Nejedly’s death

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

The unexpected death of Governing Board Trustee John T. Nejedly, 52, has forced the district to begin its search to find a person qualified to replace him.

Contra Costa Community College District Communications and Relations Director Tim Leong said, “When we lose a Governing Board member like John, who has been helping students throughout the district for 22 years, it is hard knowing he won’t be around anymore.

“With my experience knowing him, the next person has big shoes to fill in terms of contributions to the district.”

Leong said the Governing Board plans to choose the new trustee by Dec. 14.

“We want whoever is selected to be sworn in at the District Office at the following Governing Board meeting,” he said. “That is the goal. But a lot can happen in between now and then.”

Leong said the Governing Board, at a closed meeting at the District Office on Oct. 18, chose to go through a provisional appointment process to replace Nejedly instead of a public election ballot distributed throughout communities in Ward IV.

Executive Vice Chancellor Eugene Huff said the provisional appointment process is much more cost efficient than the public election that could cost the district upward of $100,000.

Through provisional appointment, the Governing Board trustees review the candidates’ applications and its members vote at a public meeting.

Huff said the same process was used to replace the unexpected deaths of Governing Board members Sheila Grilli in 2013 and Jesse Reyes in 2011, after each died while in office.

“It was tough when Jesse and Sheila passed, and Mr. Nejedly’s passing is just as unexpected,” he said.

“In that regard, everything happened so suddenly and feels rushed. But we are legally required to start the provisional appointment process or call for a public election within 60 days of the vacancy (in accordance with Board Policy 1021),” Huff said.

Leong said public elections are costly and there is no assurance that more than one person will apply for the vacant position. So the Governing Board unanimously decided to go through the provisional appointment process.

“This is the third time that we have gone through this process since I have been with the district,” he said.

“I think it is unfortunate we have become good at this. A lot of districts do not have to go through what we are doing three times in almost six years.”

Governing Board Trustee John Marquez said while Nejedly’s death is devastating, the district’s work must continue.

“In terms of operations, his passing does not affect much. Work goes on. But what is affected are the relationships with the people he worked with and the knowledgeable input he brought to the board for 22 years.”

People who apply for Nejedly’s position must be residents of Ward IV, which includes Clayton, Brentwood, Danville, San Ramon, Blackhawk, Byron, Diablo and Discovery Bay.

Whoever is appointed will be responsible for not only representing their own ward, but help set policies that will affect students districtwide — at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos colleges.

Huff said the district will stop accepting applications on Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m. and the Governing Board will screen the applicants down to three finalists. But Leong said the Governing Board could decide that none of the finalists are qualified for the job and the process would begin again.

“If the board cannot come to a conclusion regarding the best candidate, then the process would start all over again,” he said. “There are a host of directions this process could take.”