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Meet the 4 candidates for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees

Three incumbents, one challenger vie for three seats

The race for three open seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College is made up of four candidates. Three are incumbents and the fourth is seeking a seat on the five-member board for the first time.

Read on for short biographies on each candidate.

Laura Casas

Laura Casas has served on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees for 15 years. Courtesy Laura Casas.

A 15-year member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, Casas received a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge.

She chairs the district's Audit and Finance Committee. She has served as the board's representative to the California Community College Trustee Board and as representative to the Distance Education Technology and Educational Advisory Committee to the California State Chancellor's office on planning, vision and policy.

She has overseen the transition to online-only classes during the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered a balanced budget.

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Narrowing the achievement gap, providing a low-cost quality education while maintaining a balanced budget have been among her most rewarding accomplishments on the board. Also most meaningful to her, she says: maintaining one of the highest transfer rates from the district to four-year colleges and fighting for fair community college funding at the state level as a representative to the California Community College Trustee Board.

Peter Landsberger

Peter Landsberger has been involved with the Foothill-De Anza Community College District for over four decades. Courtesy Peter Landsberger.

Los Altos resident Peter Landsberger was first appointed Foothill-De Anza's first general counsel in 1978. In 1983, he was promoted to vice chancellor and served as the chancellor's chief deputy and executive in charge of all district office operations.

He is currently vice president of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the board of directors of the Foothill De Anza Foundation, the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, and UNITE-LA, an education related nonprofit organization in Los Angeles.

His education includes the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley and Santa Monica College.

Landsberger said co-chairing the Measure G and H campaign and engaging the community to achieve clear majorities in support of both measures are among his highest achievements. He also provided leadership on the board when it needed to implement more than $17 million in budget reductions without seriously damaging high-quality instruction and student services, he said.

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"That was primarily accomplished through disciplined elimination of positions that became vacant through resignation or retirement. As a result, the pain and disruption of the adjustment was kept at moderate levels, and the focus of the reductions were, to the extent possible, kept away from the classroom," he said.

Govind Tatachari

Govind Tatachari is a newcomer to this year's race for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees. Courtesy Govind Tatachari.

Tatachari is the sole challenger seeking a board seat. A native of Jharia, Tatachari grew up in mining towns in eastern and central India.

"Education turned out to be the key enabler for me," he said. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Tatachari arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986. A U.S. naturalized citizen, he is a Cupertino resident.

As a technology professional with more than three decades of industry experience, Tatachari said he brings a deep understanding of what the industries of the 21st century need.

"I will use that to make the programs we offer more relevant using greater industry partnerships in both traditional and newly emergent areas. I bring in a strong technical background that complements the existing board members whose experiences are different," he said.

He is also focused on improving board transparency.

"Decisions wherein community surveys were undertaken need to be explained to the community via outreach within a timeframe. For example, the recent bond measure barely met the threshold to pass, which is surprising in our community which values education a lot," he said.

In the last few years, he has advocated for affordable housing solutions with an emphasis on homeless students at De Anza at the city level. In April 2019, he organized a forum on regional housing issues.

Also, he said, "I did a comparative analysis of performing arts centers in the neighboring cities and provided inputs to community leaders involved in discussions about the future of the Flint Center."

Gilbert Wong

Gilbert Wong is one of three incumbents on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees who is seeking reelection. Courtesy Gilbert Wong.

The son of immigrants from China and Hong Kong, Wong was born and educated in Santa Clara Valley. A product of West Valley Community College, where he earned an associate of arts degree in business management, he graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and studied at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, earning a certificate of senior executives in state and local government.

A business owner, he was a two-term Cupertino mayor and City Council member. A Foothill-De Anza trustee, he has served as a member of the De Anza Commission, a board director of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Foundation, a board director-at-large of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and as president of the ACCT Asian Pacific Islander and Native American Trustee Association.

During his board tenure, Wong passed four balanced budgets. Among his most gratifying achievements, he said, he attended the first dental hygiene bachelor of science graduation at Foothill College.

"I was able to advocate to not end the DACA program and to try to get it into law. I have been advocating for more funding for Federal Pell Grants and to get a comprehensive reform of the Higher Education Act this year as ACCT lobbyist to the U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Senator Patty Murray in Washington, D.C.," he said.

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Meet the 4 candidates for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees

Three incumbents, one challenger vie for three seats

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 1:22 pm

The race for three open seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College is made up of four candidates. Three are incumbents and the fourth is seeking a seat on the five-member board for the first time.

Read on for short biographies on each candidate.

A 15-year member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, Casas received a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge.

She chairs the district's Audit and Finance Committee. She has served as the board's representative to the California Community College Trustee Board and as representative to the Distance Education Technology and Educational Advisory Committee to the California State Chancellor's office on planning, vision and policy.

She has overseen the transition to online-only classes during the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered a balanced budget.

Narrowing the achievement gap, providing a low-cost quality education while maintaining a balanced budget have been among her most rewarding accomplishments on the board. Also most meaningful to her, she says: maintaining one of the highest transfer rates from the district to four-year colleges and fighting for fair community college funding at the state level as a representative to the California Community College Trustee Board.

Los Altos resident Peter Landsberger was first appointed Foothill-De Anza's first general counsel in 1978. In 1983, he was promoted to vice chancellor and served as the chancellor's chief deputy and executive in charge of all district office operations.

He is currently vice president of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the board of directors of the Foothill De Anza Foundation, the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, and UNITE-LA, an education related nonprofit organization in Los Angeles.

His education includes the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley and Santa Monica College.

Landsberger said co-chairing the Measure G and H campaign and engaging the community to achieve clear majorities in support of both measures are among his highest achievements. He also provided leadership on the board when it needed to implement more than $17 million in budget reductions without seriously damaging high-quality instruction and student services, he said.

"That was primarily accomplished through disciplined elimination of positions that became vacant through resignation or retirement. As a result, the pain and disruption of the adjustment was kept at moderate levels, and the focus of the reductions were, to the extent possible, kept away from the classroom," he said.

Tatachari is the sole challenger seeking a board seat. A native of Jharia, Tatachari grew up in mining towns in eastern and central India.

"Education turned out to be the key enabler for me," he said. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Tatachari arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986. A U.S. naturalized citizen, he is a Cupertino resident.

As a technology professional with more than three decades of industry experience, Tatachari said he brings a deep understanding of what the industries of the 21st century need.

"I will use that to make the programs we offer more relevant using greater industry partnerships in both traditional and newly emergent areas. I bring in a strong technical background that complements the existing board members whose experiences are different," he said.

He is also focused on improving board transparency.

"Decisions wherein community surveys were undertaken need to be explained to the community via outreach within a timeframe. For example, the recent bond measure barely met the threshold to pass, which is surprising in our community which values education a lot," he said.

In the last few years, he has advocated for affordable housing solutions with an emphasis on homeless students at De Anza at the city level. In April 2019, he organized a forum on regional housing issues.

Also, he said, "I did a comparative analysis of performing arts centers in the neighboring cities and provided inputs to community leaders involved in discussions about the future of the Flint Center."

The son of immigrants from China and Hong Kong, Wong was born and educated in Santa Clara Valley. A product of West Valley Community College, where he earned an associate of arts degree in business management, he graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and studied at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, earning a certificate of senior executives in state and local government.

A business owner, he was a two-term Cupertino mayor and City Council member. A Foothill-De Anza trustee, he has served as a member of the De Anza Commission, a board director of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Foundation, a board director-at-large of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and as president of the ACCT Asian Pacific Islander and Native American Trustee Association.

During his board tenure, Wong passed four balanced budgets. Among his most gratifying achievements, he said, he attended the first dental hygiene bachelor of science graduation at Foothill College.

"I was able to advocate to not end the DACA program and to try to get it into law. I have been advocating for more funding for Federal Pell Grants and to get a comprehensive reform of the Higher Education Act this year as ACCT lobbyist to the U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Senator Patty Murray in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Comments

Ken Horowitz
Registered user
another community
on Sep 29, 2020 at 4:51 pm
Ken Horowitz , another community
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2020 at 4:51 pm
5 people like this

Peter Landsberger is the most qualified candidate to continue as Trustee of the FHDA Community College District. He had been an employee in many capacities in the District, he has served as a College President at San Mateo Community College, and he has served as an interm Chancellor at a Los Angeles Community College District. He has the experience and expertise to lead our two Colleges during this COVID-19 pandemic. I endorse him enthusiastically
Dr. Ken Horowitz DMD
Foothill College Professor 1977-


Ellen Wheeler
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm
Ellen Wheeler, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm
4 people like this

Laura Casas is an outstanding member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College Board of Trustees. Not only does she have the legal and financial expertise to help the board continue to make the best decisions for all of the students in these colleges, she has the heart to reach out to and help represent underserved students who need the leg up that a community college can provide on the way to success in a four year college.


Gary Wesley
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm
Gary Wesley, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm
7 people like this

I don't know Ken and Ellen. Is each of your posts (above) recommending a college district board candidate an "advertisement" requiring disclaimers under the state Political Reform Act (PRA)? Did you mention to your favorite candidate beforehand that you proposed or planned to post your recommendation on this semi-public website? Did you thereby "coordinate" with your favorite candidate? Is an "advertisement" under the PRA only something for which you pay (beyond spending your own time)? What if you print out your comment and deliver it to your neighbors by drop, by fax, by email or in some other way? What if a neighbor helps you print or distribute your comment? Need to add disclaimers under the PRA? The public can see on websites which candidates are endorsed or recommended by various groups. No disclaimers there. Look at the website of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. It is accessible to the public. It lists the candidates for City Council and notes which of them are endorsed by the Chamber. An endorsed candidate, in turn, may advertise his or her Chamber endorsement in various ways. That may work to the financial benefit of the Chamber of Commence - a so-called "non-profit corporation." Maybe, to be safe, you will add disclaimers in posts following this one.


Gary Wesley
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 6:06 pm
Gary Wesley, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2020 at 6:06 pm
9 people like this

But wait Ken and Ellen. The California Political Reform Act does not require disclaimers on political "advertisements" except advertisements by a "committee." So unless your middle or last name is "committee," you may not need to be concerned.


Gary Wesley
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Oct 2, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Gary Wesley, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2020 at 6:48 pm
2 people like this

I received in the mail Thursday a fancy piece for Yes on regional measure RR from a committee listing the 3 top contributors (2 railroad-related corporations and a Menlo Park billionaire). Today, I received two city council candidate SLATE MAILERS: (1) from the "Mountain View Firefighters" union and the other from the "Mountain View Housing Justice Campaign." Both are registered campaign committees and acknowledged contributors could be researched in filings. The MVHJC mailer has a disclaimer that it was "not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate." The fire union mailer contains no such claim.


JamesSweeney
Registered user
Bailey Park
on Oct 22, 2020 at 12:56 pm
JamesSweeney, Bailey Park
Registered user
on Oct 22, 2020 at 12:56 pm
Like this comment

Useful and informative article. More like that


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