Four finalists named from field of six to fill Trustee vacancy at COD

PALM DESERT — When all of the Trustees’ rankings were tabulated, four applicants from a field of six emerged as finalists for the Trustee Area 3 vacancy, which was created when Fred E. Jandt resigned in March due to health issues.

The finalists for the vacant Trustee seat have been invited for in-person interviews during a Special Meeting of the Board this Friday, May 19. The names, in alphabetical order by last name are:

Uken Report showcased Jones’ and Vickers’ philosophies earlier this week. See their links above. Vickers could not be reached for comment.

If a provisional appointment is made, the person appointed to the position shall hold office only until the next regularly scheduled election for District Board members, when the election shall be held to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term.

The provisional appointment could be made by a majority public vote of the Board members at a public meeting.

If the four-member board cannot make a selection, the County Registrar will call for a Nov. 7 election for Area 3 voters, which will cost $180,000, which is the cost of a special election, according to Matthew Ceballos, Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters for the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.

Finalists Named for COD Trustee Area 3 Vacancy

Ron Oden

Within minutes of the board voting to try to fill the vacancy by appointment, former Mayor of Palm Springs Oden announced to Uken Report his intention seek the position. His excitement was palpable. He is media savvy. He’s transparent. When reporters call him, he answers. He doesn’t dodge the difficult questions. To illustrate this, he shared his application with Uken Report.

Others who sought the vacancy told Uken Report they did not keep a copy of their application.

Since submitting his name for consideration, Oden has enjoyed a groundswell of support from Palm Springs to Cathedral City and beyond. He’s a known quantity. What you see is exactly what you get. He is friendly and approachable.

Oden would be the only black person on the board and reportedly the first black person to the board if appointed. The bulk of the black potential COD students reside in Area 3.

Oden has been an adjunct instructor at COD since 1990 and is retiring from his COD job next week — upon completion of the Spring Semester. Oden has his ear to the ground and his finger on the pulse of faculty needs as well as student needs. His granddaughter recently matriculate at the college. He was once in charge of student services.

In November 2003, Oden was elected the first gay African American mayor of Palm Springs, after serving eight years on the city council. He became the first Black openly gay man to be a mayor of a U.S. city. His groundbreaking election opened a door. The community’s outlook and fortune were transformed.

Oden’s election made global news headlines. Oden’s tenure as mayor was notable for his work promoting organizations focused on diversity, including the Palm Springs Human Rights Task Force, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission, and the Palm Springs branch of the NAACP. Oden also brought in the Palm Springs City Council’s first gay majority.

The Trustee Area 3 seat has been held by a member of the LGBTQ community since at least February of 2010. Michael O’Neill was appointed in 2010 and won election in 2012. He resigned in December 2015. Jandt was first appointed to the Board of Trustees in February 2016. He was one of eight applicants who applied. He was elected in November 2020. His term was set to expire in 2024. Trustee Area 3 generally includes Palm Springs and Cathedral City.






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