Why wasn’t public input sought in COD Board of Trustees’ new appointment?


Alison Pfaff

Did former Trustee Deanne Mazzochi’s decision to hold off her resignation help smoothen the transition process, or did it increase polarization amongst the COD Board?

Joey Weslo, General Assignment Reporter

Secrecy. Sudden and undemocratically lacking public input.

That’s how Dan Bailey, candidate for College of DuPage’s Board of Trustees in the April election, characterized the board’s process to appoint Heidi Holan to former Trustee Deanne Mazzochi’s seat. Bailey said the appointment is a disservice to the school’s best interests.

“A public election would have happened if Mazzochi had not delayed the process of resigning,” said Bailey. “The open position should have been added to our ballot and potential candidates could have had the opportunity to get on the ballot.”

Bailey’s criticism comes from Mazzochi’s decision to not immediately resign from the board following her election as a Republican representing the 47th District in the State House of Representatives. Mazzochi instead resigned on Feb. 21, enabling the board to appoint her successor.

Mazzochi said her decision was in the best interest of the college. She said the extra time allowed her to help fill administrative roles after the sudden departure of former COD President Ann Rondeau on Dec. 31. Mazzochi also wanted to ensure a smooth transition for the board.

Courtesy of Jennifer Duda
If given the choice, would public voters have chosen Heidi Holan to serve on the COD Board of Trustees?

Board Chairman Frank Napolitano believes Mazzochi wasn’t required to resign since she had been serving both roles since being appointed to the State House seat in July 2018.

Napolitano said because Mazzochi’s resignation was less than four months to the next election, the Illinois Community College Act requires the board appoint a replacement within 60 days or have the ICC Board find an appointment.

“The ICCB appointed Kathy Hamilton’s replacement following a very difficult and divided time in 2016 when the board could not come to a consensus replacement,” said Napolitano. “The board didn’t want to go through that process again. The board interviewed two individuals that expressed interest in the potential appointment and settled on Holan.”

Bailey said in 2016 the board called for volunteers and considered 26 candidates after Hamilton resigned. He stressed the public knew who was under consideration. He blamed the 2016 failure on an unprecedented lack of cooperation.

“(2016) should not taint the good practice of asking for volunteers and then vetting and choosing from among them in a way that allows community input,” said Bailey. “Mazzochi’s reasons may be good, but the will of the electorate, the people the board members represent, should be considered and respected.”

He stressed a month or two should be allotted to ensure the right decision is made in a transparent process.

“Would the people have selected Holan if given a choice?” asked Bailey. “She did lose two elections for state representative. There needed to be time to evaluate her positions. The public wants someone who values public education and teachers, and someone who fully supports the mission of this great institution.”

Napolitano highlighted Holan’s prior position on COD’s budget committee and her strong family ties to the college.

“We look forward to working with Trustee Holan as we continue to chart the future of this institution,” said Napolitano.

Holan earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Elmhurst College.

As the Republican candidate, Holan was twice defeated in 2014 and 2016 by Democratic State Rep. Deb Conroy to represent District 46. In a competitive district, Holan lost the 2016 election by 18 percent.

Her campaigns were endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Illinois Federation for Right to Life. She is highly rated and supported by the National Rifle Association for her position on upholding gun rights.

She campaigned on a bill to freeze property taxes and a plan for local governments to reduce expenses. Holan also touted tuition vouchers, education savings accounts and opportunity scholarships as a way to permit parents to send their children to schools of their choice. While campaigning, she said the current educational system “forces taxpayers to fund those inferior (public) schools.”

Holan will complete the remainder of Mazzochi’s term ending in 2021. Afterwards, Holan will decide whether to seek another term, this time elected by the public, or attempt to follow in Mazzochi’s political footsteps after gaining experience and political connections from her time on the board.