For the second year in a row, voters did not agree to pass a General Obligation (GO) bond that would help Mt. Hood Community College pay off debts, upgrade areas to withstand seismic activity, and replace the current applied technology center. This year, the college was asking for $75 million, instead of $125 million.
According to official county voting results, 54.7 percent of voters in Multnomah County were against it, 57.9 percent were against it in Clackamas, and 56.98 opposed it in Hood River County. In total, the three counties were against Mt. Hood’s bond by 55.2 percent, last year, voters were against it by 55.3 percent. The college has not passed a bond since 1974, making this the sixth failed attempt.
College officials held a gathering at Mojave’s in Downtown Gresham to celebrate efforts of all participants, and to watch voting results on television.
MHCC President Debbie Derr kicked off the event with some words, “I have to say this was the epitome of grassroots efforts. We made a decision through our board to move forward with a bond this May, we made that decision in February. We had very little money left in the piggy from our PAC – friends of Mt. Hood community college,” she said.
Derr recognized a few of the volunteers that helped with bond efforts. Awards were presented to Aurora and Ed del Val, Cheryl Johnson, Jim Zordich, Dale Gronso, and David Strohl.
Aurora del Val, got involved with the efforts through the encouragement of her husband Ed, an instructor at MHCC. She had experience with campaigning against Nestle’s water bottling plant in Hood River county. Through her efforts, 69 percent of voters were not in favor of Nestle.
The grassroots aspect of this year’s bond was what sparked Aurora’s interest. “I actually thought, ‘you know, there is a fighting chance,’ people are tired and I think this is an opportunity to energize the base. I think what was unfortunate with last year is there were so many big issues people were talking about,” she said.
Aurora said she wants to debrief different groups on campus about the most recent efforts. “I personally would love to have the opportunity to debrief with both, the foundation, and the PAC, and the faculty association, classified, and with students,” she said. “The fact is, we’re going to go after more bonds, and I would love to just be able to give my input.”
John Hamblin said “we stay the course. We’ve done a lot of work over the last few years rebuilding and renewing relationships and building new relationships, and that doesn’t stop.” He said the college needs to continue working on reinforcing relationships with the community.
Board Member Kenny Polson said that to boost support for the bond, the college needed to reach out to the Latino community. “If you don’t appeal to the Latinos, they don’t feel like you’ve reached out to them,” he said. “Write stuff in Spanish, (then) they feel like you’re reaching out to them – you got those votes.” Polson said the Latino community is the strongest minority group when it comes to swaying elections.
President Derr said the college will pursue a bond measure again, and newly elected board members Diane Mckeel and Annette Matson have a lot of experience with similar campaign efforts. “I think we’ve got some opportunity to utilize expertise that perhaps we haven’t had before,” said Derr.
Tammie Arnold, who believed that pursuing a bond this year was too early for a retry, was also disappointed that voters didn’t favor Mt. Hood’s bond. “I was positively hopeful that it would (pass) because our community needs this, and I’m optimistic that if we have more time to prepare and create a strategy, that we’ll be successful in the future.”
Along with the failure of the bond, voters decided to bring in new members to the Mt. Hood Community College District Board of Education. Diane McKeel will be the new representative for District 1, earning 66.8 percent of votes replacing Susie Jones who got elected to the Multnomah Education Service District with 63.4 percent of all votes, Jim Zordich has been reelected for Zone 2 running unopposed with 3 percent of votes against him, and Annette Mattson is the new representative for Zone 4 with 79.4 percent of votes replacing George Sonny Yellott.