CMC trustee candidate: Wes Duran |

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CMC trustee candidate: Wes Duran

Voters throughout the multi-county Colorado Mountain College district will choose four 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. Here’s a brief look at the people running for seats on the board.

Name: Wes Duran

Residence: Twin Lakes, Lake County

Occupation: Retired after a 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force

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 the Lake County trustee of CMC and have found it to be the most rewarding job I have ever had. I would appreciate the privilege of serving a second term (at the end of which I would be term-limited).

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 Governor 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.

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.