CMC Board election: District 6 candidate Wes Duran
Voters throughout the multicounty Colorado Mountain College district will choose four members of the college’s seven-member board of trustees this fall.
While trustees are chosen from specific areas, everyone in the college’s tax district votes for everyone. Since all of this year’s candidates are from other counties, the Vail Daily will provide a brief look at the people running for seats on the board.
Friday: District 2 candidates Kathy Goudy and Stan Orr.
Saturday: District 4 candidates Richard Hague and Robert Taylor.
Sunday: District 5 candidates Ken Brenner and John Fielding.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Today: District 6 candidates Pat Chlouber and Wes Duran.
Name: Wes Duran.
Residence: Twin Lakes, Lake County.
Occupation: Retired after a 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force.
What prompted you to run for a seat on the CMC Board of Trustees?
I was recruited in 2007 by Helen Ginandes Weiss, who served Colorado Mountain College with great distinction for 24 years as an adjunct professor and as a trustee representing two of its districts. Helen knew of my passion for education, my civic-mindedness and my genuine desire to be of service to the community.
I am in my seventh year as a director of the local rural electric cooperative and am both an active member and past president of the Rotary Club of Buena Vista. I have just completed a four-year term as Lake County trustee of CMC and have found it to be the most rewarding job I ever have had. I would appreciate the privilege of serving a second term (at the end of which I would be term-limited).
What’s your opinion about the college’s recent move toward four-year degrees?
I vigorously supported this initiative from start to finish. It was shocking to me that there were no four-year colleges in our 12,500-square-mile district, which is larger than the state of Maryland. I traveled to Denver more often than any other trustee and testified on CMC’s behalf before the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. I actively lobbied Colorado legislators for our bill and was present when Gov. Ritter signed it into law.
I also was present when the Higher Learning Commission approved accreditation of our first two baccalaureate degrees. Our four-year program is up and running, with over 150 students enrolled and many more in the pipeline. The door of opportunity is now wide open for high school graduates (or students with their GED) to complete a four-year degree without leaving their mountain communities and at a current total cost of under $9,000. Show me another college that can offer better value!
What does CMC need to do to keep college education affordable and attainable for district residents?
Attainability is not a problem anymore because our four-year degrees are offered at every one of CMC’s seven campuses (and also at our eighth campus, which exists in cyberspace). The key to affordability is sound financial management, and CMC is the best example of that in Colorado. As current college treasurer, I and the six other trustees have provided guidance and oversight to ensure that CMC remains fiscally sound. We set the example by serving without salary.
Our healthy cash reserves have allowed us the flexibility to acquire land at bargain prices and to build and renovate new facilities, even in the present economic environment. This both provides jobs locally and guarantees optimal construction value for the tax dollars that we spend so carefully. I am very proud that our mill levy has remained stable for almost 20 years and that we live wisely within our budget.