Candidate campaigns on nonpartisan platform

Vodonick says politics has clouded Sierra College scene
By: Jenifer Gee Gold Country News Service
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A self-proclaimed professional student, Nevada City resident John Vodonick is racing for the chance to represent Placer County students’ higher education demands. Vodonick is challenging incumbent Aaron Klein for the Sierra Community College board of trustees Area 7(Colfax/Nevada City) seat. This election year, Sierra College board members are faced with talk of budgeting limited resources in a time when the school’s student population continues to rapidly grow each year. “We have to make every dollar count,” Vodonick said. “We have to figure out ways of stretching the resources we have and making sure the resources that are there are kept in good shape.” Vodonick, 58, said he feels politics has become an issue on the Sierra College board. “I’m fearful that right now what’s happened to the board of Sierra College is it has become political in orientation instead of having education as orientation,” Vodonick said. Vodonick’s opponent was the subject of a recall effort in May 2006 by the Save Sierra College committee. The group wanted to recall Klein and trustee Jerry Simmons from their positions. Now, the group has a renewed mission, according to Cheryl Maki, former Auburn mayor and committee spokeswoman, to help elect nonpartisan candidates to the college’s board. “We’re working on getting a couple more nonpartisan, hardworking trustees elected,” Maki said. The group has endorsed Vodonick, as well as Elaine Rowen, who is running against Dennis Cota for a seat vacated by Simmons. “John provides voters with a wonderful contrast to the incumbent Aaron Klein, in education, experience, and integrity,” Maki said in a news release. “Anyone who informs themselves about the candidates will certainly choose John.” Vodonick said he welcomes endorsements from nonpartisan individuals and organizations. “Frankly I’m not interested in politics,” Vodonick said. “I’m interested in my community. I’m interested in education and that is my priority: education not politics.” Vodonick said he is a product of the community college system and so is his son, mother and daughters. He said the college’s current situation of not having enough funding to meet student demands is a “terrible problem.” Vodonick said he feels community colleges provide for all types and ages of students, including those wanting to offset the cost of a four-year university and those who want to explore a new career. However, Vodonick said the current economy and lack of community support make it hard for Sierra College to keep up with today’s demands. “We’re a little like Cinderella,” Vodonick said. “We’re doing all of the work but not getting the nice dress for the ball.” Vodonick said he wanted to acknowledge up front that he was on probation as an attorney for not immediately paying a fee due a client. He said the incident was resolved and his company paid its full dues. He added that the probation was removed. “As a result of that experience, I believe I became a better person and lawyer,” Vodonick said. Vodonick said he plans to promote his campaign through word of mouth and through Internet mailers. He said he also wants to meet as many people as possible to talk about his vision for the college. “Sierra College is uniquely positioned to help out community reinvent itself for a changing economy,” Vodonick said.