Two candidates from Albany have applied to fill the Zone 2-3 position with the Linn-Benton Community College Board of Education.
James Merryman, president and CEO of Oregon Freeze Dry, and Daniel Zinck, information security analyst for the Oregon Department of Education, are on the ballot for the May 21 election.
The candidates are vying for the position for the Albany zone that is being vacated by Dan Bedore.
Merryman, 58, said he was encouraged to run by current and past board members because of his involvement with LBCC through OFD. Freeze Dry is a sponsor of the school’s mechatronics program.
“I’ve been involved with LBCC developing customized and specialized education programs and strategic thinking,” Merryman said. “My involvement with the school has influenced my decision.”
Zinck, 31, said being active in education his entire career influenced his decision to run for the board.
“LBCC has a unique opportunity to make demonstrably positive economical and social changes to our region,” Zinck said. “The ability to help and be involved in such an institution was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Merryman said that creating a skilled workforce in the local community is a key issue for LBCC.
“I personally believe the development of a skilled workforce that can be employed by the current and future businesses of Linn County should be a major focus,” Merryman said. “Of course, funding is a big issue or, at a minimum, the allocation of funding.”
Merryman added that he would like to see the college focus on workforce development and create partnerships between LBCC and the business community.
“I support using those methods to develop our citizens to be in a position to fill job openings in Linn and Benton counties with the trades or skill set required,” Merryman said.
A 39-year veteran of Oregon Freeze Dry, Merryman attended Oregon State University to study engineering. He held various positions at OFD before taking over as president and CEO.
Zinck said LBCC’s challenges are likely to remain the same over the years. He called the college one of the few mechanisms to move the area forward through education.
“Without an educated workforce, economic recovery in our area will continue to challenge our stability,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that when our community colleges have been needed the most, their funding has been drastically impacted.”
Zinck added that he supports the idea of raising completion rates but believes it will not be easy. He said funding for LBCC is his highest concern.
“LBCC has no control over legislative priorities and cannot make structural changes required to provide a truly stable and adequate funding source,” he said. “I think as a community-focused education center LBCC should focus on regional partnerships.”
Zinck advocated continued work to form bonds between schools, nonprofits and employers to help provide services.
“LBCC is the only option in our area for a lower-cost, high-value foundation to a four-year degree program,” he said. “We have to work together to find solutions to extremely difficult problems. I would like to be a part of that effort.”
Zinck worked at Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District for nearly 13 years as a network and systems analyst and engineer before moving to the OED this year. He attended Linn-Benton Community College after graduating from Central High School.
In Corvallis, incumbent Ron Mason, a retired LBCC faculty member, is running unopposed in Zone 5. Lynanna Riverstone, a college instructor at LBCC and Western Oregon University, and Ron Thiesen, the development director for Community Outreach are running for the position in Zone 6/7A.