Cheng and Landsberger re-elected to head Foothill-De Anza board

Pearl Cheng

Pearl Cheng will remain at the helm of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees for another year.

At a Dec. 2 board meeting, trustees re-elected Cheng as president and Peter Landsberger as vice president. Both were originally elected to the roles in December 2018.

The only other person to serve as board president for two consecutive terms was Robert Smithwick, one of the district’s founding trustees, who led the board from 1957 to 1959.

The board voted 4-1 to have Cheng and Landsberger continue to lead the board. Trustee Gilbert Wong dissented both times, despite nominating Landsberger to be vice president. Wong declined a request for comment.

Landsberger nominated Cheng for a second term and said that although it has been the board’s practice to have officers serve a single one-year term at a time, the custom isn’t sacrosanct and can be deviated from when appropriate.

“In my view, this is one of those times,” Landsberger said at the meeting. “We’ve got two tax measures on the ballot. I think continuity of leadership under these circumstances … is a desirable thing, and I think Pearl Cheng’s done an excellent job.”

Peter Landsberger

The board voted last month to place both a bond measure and parcel tax on the March ballot. The $898 million bond measure would authorize a property tax increase of $16 per $100,000 of assessed value. The parcel tax would raise $5.5 million annually for five years and cost $48 per parcel.

In an interview, Landsberger said continuity is beneficial because the president serves as the board’s spokesperson and works closely with Chancellor Judy Miner to shape the board’s agenda.

“From my perspective, the most important issue was the ability to continue the ongoing, smooth relationship and … knowledge of each other’s working style, through at least the March election,” Landsberger said.

Maintaining the same board leadership is something Cheng said she doesn’t take lightly. However, she added she is willing to remain on as president because it is the will of the board. Cheng said the board faces an important year ahead, with a number of issues on the docket.

Among the topics she said the board plans to consider are ways to address student needs, including housing, food and transportation; the impact recent budget cuts have had on the colleges; and plans to replace the Flint Center.

“We have a great team, so this is just a reflection of keeping this great governance team moving forward and working with Chancellor Miner and her executive staff,” Cheng said.
At Monday’s meeting, the board also appointed Miner to serve as the board’s secretary. Board policy dictates that the chancellor serves as secretary of the board.

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