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Klein running for another four years

Says opportunities to expand Sierra College without taxing residents
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Colfax resident Aaron Klein sees a bright future ahead for Sierra College, and said he’s hoping for the chance to make that vision a reality. Klein is running for re-election for the Sierra Community College board of trustees Area 7 (Colfax/Nevada City) seat. He is running against John Vodonick, a Nevada City resident and self-described life-long student. Maintaining the college’s budget is one of the reasons Klein said he is running again for the college board. However, opponents argue have argued against Klein’s budget philosophy. “I’m running again because it’s so critical to continue the agenda for change that we started four years ago,” Klein said. Klein said during his first four-year term on the board, the college’s budget has been balanced and also generated $2 million in new surpluses. “Now we’ve got to use that advantage to make Sierra College an even greater engine of economic recovery during this downturn.” Klein and trustee Bill Martin have criticized each other’s budget policy in recent reports. Both trustees have issued reports to the public in an attempt to offer a solution to the college’s financial woes. It isn’t the first time the two trustees have disagreed. In May 2006, Klein and trustee Jerry Simmons were the subject of a recall effort by the Save Sierra College committee. The committee endorsed Bill Martin during his first election. In his report, Klein states the college has the potential to bring in $60 million over the next five years by looking to federal funding and getting matching funds from the state as opposed to raising taxes. Klein said he supports “a reasonable and conservative bond measure,” but not at the present time. “I think we need to be mindful of how tough the economy is and how badly people are hurting now,” Klein said. He also suggests growing the Sierra College Foundation and finding a way to use undeveloped land that the college owns. Martin has said Klein’s revenue plans have “next to no connection” between the funding amounts and the cost of completing projects. “(Klein’s report) calls for the rapid growth of the Sierra College Foundation without any estimate of the cost of growing that foundation,” Martin said. Martin added that Klein’s assumptions of state funding matches are “highly optimistic.” “His plan calls for no local support at all,” Martin said. In turn, Klein has said Martin’s budget ideas rely too much on taxing residents. “Bill is a very strong advocate for bond measures,” Klein said. “In these tough economic times, there’s just no way that proposal is going to be successful so I issued a report to demonstrate that there are real steps and real solutions.” Klein’s supporters, who include Lincoln City Councilman Tom Cosgrove, say they support the trustee because of his prior work on the board. “Aaron and I had some disagreements several years ago, but as we’ve begun to work more closely together, I can say with confidence that we’ve developed a great deal of respect for each other,” Cosgrove said in a prepared statement. “He is working with our local elected officials to get great things done for Sierra College, and I’m proud to support him for re-election.” Outside of the budget debate, Klein said he has other goals for the college. He said he’d like the school to invest more in online education. He also wants the college to form stronger partnerships with county high schools to generate interest in the community college at an early age. “Funding is always a challenge,” Klein said. “But I think there are tremendous things we can do with the resources that we’ve already been entrusted with.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment. ---------- Name: Aaron Klein City: Colfax History: Grew up in Placer County since the age of 7. Elected to the Sierra College board of trustees in 2004. As an entrepreneur, Klein has worked as a Web consultant for a candidate for Governor of California, U.S. Congress and State Senate and Assembly. Goals: Says it’s possible to bring in $60 million to Sierra College over the next five years ----------