Mary Jane Sanchez to Run for COD’s Board of Trustees, Area 2

DESERT HOT SPRINGS —Mary Jane Sanchez, educator, healthcare professional, and former COD Board of Trustee, from 2012 to 2020, video-announced today that she will seek a seat this Nov. 5th on the Desert Community College District (DCCD) Board of Trustees for Area 2. The area includes Desert Hot Springs, Thousand Palms, Sky Valley, Indio Hills, Desert Center, Sun City, Cactus Summit and a portion of Palm Desert.

The seat is currently occupied by the embattled Bea Gonzalez, a trustee who has faced two threats and one completion of a “vote of no-confidence” by faculty organizations at College of the Desert along with intense public outrage for her decision making as a board member. She has not returned Uken Report’s phone call or email questions about seeking reelection.

It will be a rematch of the 2020 race when Gonzalez unseated Sanchez, Gonzalez nabbed 17,577 votes, or 52.6%, while Sanchez netted 15,826 votes for 47.4%.

Chris Parman, who is married to Area 4 Trustee Joel Kinnamon, is Sanchez’s campaign manager.

DCCD is the publicly elected governing body for College of the Desert.

“As a former COD Board of Trustee and the first Latina to chair the COD board, it is upsetting to see how quickly the COD student promise has dissolved since my absence on this board,” Sanchez said in a statement. “During my tenure, COD was the fastest- growing community college district in California, experienced record graduation rates, and won national and state awards for academic excellence. That’s no longer the case and that’s why I am running again – to finish what we, the community, voted on and the job we started.”

Sanchez released on her website,, three major points of her campaign:

Build the West Valley Campus. COD students who live or work on the west side of the  Coachella Valley have been waiting for nearly 20 years for a West Valley Campus that is close to them. Desert Hot Springs students, who travel by bus, must currently endure a 1.5 hour bus ride each way to the Main COD Campus in Palm Desert, and that’s unacceptable. Students and workers in the west valley deserve the same higher educational opportunities and access that are available in the central and eastern sections of the Coachella Valley. Sanchez played an integral role in opening the East Valley Campus in Indio, and then quickly voted to double its size. She also voted to add a child development center at the Indio campus so parents with young children have an opportunity to attend college as well.

“On the flip side, current Trustee Bea Gonzalez continues to vote “No” at almost every opportunity to prevent the West Valley Campus from being built as she recommends using educational bond dollars for developing downtowns, a use not permitted by law,” Parman said in a statement.

Maintain Free Public Transportation to COD Students. Many COD students rely on public transportation to get to and from the classroom. As a former trustee, Mary Jane voted to partner with Sunline Transit to provide COD students with free bus fares to get to and from home, work, and school.  This unique program is called the “Haul Pass” for all COD students. The program is up for renewal annually, and Sanchez promises to keep this transportation program in place.

Support Our Diverse Students – So They Can Thrive. COD students come from every background imaginable. COD educates everyone regardless of their age, race, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, nationality or ethnic origin. “When our students succeed, we as a society succeed!”

As a former COD trustee, Sanchez played an essential role in establishing a Food Bank for food-insecure students, enhanced the Veterans Resource Center, and helped establish the Dreamers Resource Center, Gender and Sexual Diversity Pride Center, Black Student Success Center, Foster Youth Center and the Berger Faculty Innovation Center at COD. Additionally, she voted for California Indian Nations College to begin its process of full accreditation through a collaboration with COD. Mary Jane led the charge for water bottle stations throughout COD in order to conserve water and protect our planet from single-use plastic bottles.

Recently, current Trustee Bea Gonzalez voted against funding many of the student resource centers including funds for the Black Student Success Center, a contract with Jewish Family Services’ for housing insecure and homeless students, and an agreement with “One Coachella Valley” mentor and scholarship program for male Latino students.  She was the only trustee to do so.

“There is so much at stake for the future of our students and our community,” Sanchez said. “The voters have approved two educational bonds worth nearly $1 billion in order to provide a college curriculum across the Coachella Valley. Taxpayers cannot afford any more delays, deceit, or deception. Equally important, another generation of students should not have to wait for equitable access to an education in the west valley, while politicians play political games. It’s time to build the COD student promise now!”

About Mary Jane Sanchez, M.A.

She made history by becoming the first Latina chair of the Board of Trustees at COD and achieving numerous successes by placing the needs of students first. Those achievements included free tuition to all high school graduating students in the Coachella Valley, free bus passes for all COD students to get to and from work and school, new COD classrooms in Desert Hot Springs, and the new COD East Valley Campus in Indio.

Mary Jane received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Golden Gate University. She furthered her professional learning by being certified in Executive Education in Public Policy at the University of Southern California and in Non-Profit Organizational Management at Notre Dame University. For more than twenty years, Mary Jane has taught K-12, English as a Second Language, and Business and Economics at multiple colleges and universities, such as College of the Desert, UCLA Extension, and Santa Monica College.

Sanchez has received a long list of personal accolades over her career including Citizen of Achievement from the League of Women Voters, Community Advocate Award by the National Latina Business Women’s Association, Woman of Distinction by the California State Assembly, Advocate for Women’s Equality Award by the California State Senate, and Person of Distinction by Veterans for Peace, just to name a few.  Additionally, she has been a member of the American Association of University Women, multiple chambers of commerce, a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International, and former president of LULAC Inland Empire.

Both being animal lovers, Mary Jane and her husband, Robert, share their home with five rescue pets – three dogs and two cats.

More information including an extended bio is available at


Image Sources

  • Mary Jane Sancchez: Mary Jane Sanchez Campaign