More local leaders step forward hoping to fill open College of the Desert trustee seat

In emails Monday morning, both Al Jones and David Powell said they intend to apply for the vacancy created after Area 3 trustee Fred Jandt stepped down due to health reasons.

As College of the Desert (COD) officials officially opened the application period for a vacant seat on its Board of Trustees Monday, two additional community member stepped forward to say they’re hoping to fill the role.

In emails Monday morning, both Al Jones and David Powell, who have long histories of public service in the city, said they intend to apply for the vacancy created after Area 3 trustee Fred Jandt stepped down due to health reasons.

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Their announcement followed that of former Mayor Ron Oden, who said last week he intends to seek the seat. COD’s remaining trustees elected on April 21 to replace Jandt by appointment rather than holding a special election.

Jones, who currently serves as the president of the Palm Springs Sister City Board of Directors, spent 45 years as a higher education administrator, including time as an assistant chancellor for the California State University system. During his tenure there, he was responsible for outreach and transfer from the state’s community colleges. He was instrumental in creating the AA transfer degree that continues to this day.

Powell is currently the executive director of Desert Business Association, which serves as the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce. He has a dozen years’ experience as an educator with University of Massachusetts Global, formerly Brandman University and is also a former planning commission and commission chair while living in the Bay Area.

Area 3 includes portions of Palm Springs and Cathedral City. Residents and leaders in both cities have been pushing COD officials to follow through on projects years in the making. Included in those projects is a proposed satellite campus in Palm Springs that has become a flashpoint between some COD officials, elected city leaders, citizens and business leaders.

Both Jones and Powell addressed the Palm Springs campus in their emails.

“I am fairly neutral on this project, seeing an opportunity to make it is a sustainable campus that works with and for the communities it serves, and bring valued programs to those wishing to learn,” wrote Powell.

“I am a strong advocate to build a community college campus in Palm Springs,” wrote Jones. “I have served on Coachella Valley committees advocating not only for a 24th CSU Campus – CSU Palm Desert … but also for a community college campus in Palm Springs.”

More information: Anyone interested in being a candidate for the Area 3 seat has until May 4 to apply. To do that, go to this website. COD officials hope to name the replacement by the end of May. Whoever is chosen will serve only until the end of 2024, when Jandt’s term was set to expire. To conmtinue serving, they would need to win a Nov. 5, 2024 election.

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