Name: Vernon Wilson Steed
Occupation: Retired Steamfitter / Building Trades Journeyman
Campaign website or social media site: (email) firstname.lastname@example.org
Elected offices held (with years of service):
I served as a delegate to the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters for 7 Conventions. I served on the Examining Board for 6 years and the Executive Board for 15 years in Pipefitters Local Union 211.
Q: Are you a legal resident of the district you are seeking to represent?
Yes __X_ No _____
ADDRESS: 8321 Ash Rd Texas City, TX 77591
Q: Have you ever been charged or convicted of a felony crime? If you answer yes please explain.
Yes _____ No _X___
Q: Have you ever sued a public entity or been sued by one? If you answer yes, please explain.
Yes _____ No _X___
Q: Do you have any other debts (including unpaid taxes) to a public entity? If yes please explain.
Yes _____ No ___X__
Q: Will you have your home phone number listed in the phone book or your mobile number listed for the public to contact you directly?
Yes, both my numbers are available for the public to contact me directly. My home number is (409)938-0670 and my mobile number is (409) 750-0510.
Q: Why should voters choose you?
A: If elected, I will be the taxpayer’s representative. I believe COM has an obligation to the taxpayers to provide accountability and transparency. I will follow through with a timely answer to any question or concern from the community. I believe in fostering a relationship of communication and partnership between the taxpayers, the administration, the students, employees, and the board. My goal as a board member is to support quality education while preventing future lawsuits and improving the clarity and transparency of College of the Mainland’s employment policies and budget.
Q: What are your specific qualifications for the position?
A: My lifetime of experience includes roles as a COM graduate, employee, supervisor, employee representative, mediator, and a participant in writing bylaws and policies for a large organization. I have also served 6 years on the Appraisal Review Board of Galveston County mediating property tax protests between the for industrial, commercial, and private homeowners. My experience allows me to see a problem from all sides and strive to find a solution through communication, not litigation. As a lifelong resident of Galveston County and neighbor to College of the Mainland, I will be available, easily accessible, and an active participant in gaging the pulse of College of the Mainland if elected.
Q: What are the issues in this campaign?
A: The issues of the campaign are: 1) Ensuring quality education with fiscal responsibility - Is a bond proposal necessary for the future of COM? 2) the troubling number of lawsuits against COM, especially those involving civil rights violations 3) Transparency and accountability in employment practices and budget changes 4) Maintaining retainability and safety for students and employees alike.
Q: What is your platform on those issues?
A: Quality education for our community is priority number 1. The programs offered at College of the Mainland need to reflect the job market and employment circumstances of our community. I believe a clear and thoroughly revised employment policy is needed to prevent future lawsuits. Open communication between the taxpayers, administration, trustees, and employees is necessary to the future of the college.
Q: What do you think has been the root cause of the lawsuits at the college?
A: I believe the root cause of the lawsuits at College of the Mainland stems from a vague and unclear hiring and promotion policy that leaves COM vulnerable to misinterpretation. If communication was clear between all parties involved; many of these lawsuits would be solved. Clear guidelines, with a zero tolerance for discriminatory actions, in place along with open communication between administration and employees would solve this problem.
Q: Do you support the recent adoption by the board to eliminate employee deductions for such things as COM-UNITY dues or support for United Way? Why or why not?
A: I would like a clear answer as to why the trustees eliminated the options for employee deductions. Was this option eliminated to reduce administration or payroll costs? Were the employees consulted in this decision to stop deductions? Without clearly understanding the reasoning behind the decision, I cannot comment in favor or against it.
Q: What would you do as a trustee to foster a better environment between administration and COM-UNITY?
A: I believe in opening up the board of trustees to an employee representative. This fosters a relationship of communication between all parties.
Q: What should the college do to address its cost per student ratio?
A: If elected to the board of trustees, I would suggest College of the mainland perform a study of similar colleges in the state of Texas to determine if their cost per student ratio is high, low, or in line with the cost of similar colleges. The study should include such things as course offerings, student to instructor ratios, square footage of building space per student, and all other relevant costs associated with the cost per student ratio.
Q: What are the programs at COM that need to be re-evaluated? Why?
A: I think all the programs at College of the Mainland need to be evaluated to determine feasibility and applicability to today’s standards of education. If I am elected as a board member, I need to research the programs COM offers to assess student retainability, graduation rates, rate of students that go on to higher learning, employment opportunities upon graduation or completion of a program, potential earnings for graduates, and sustainable job growth to support the program.
Q: What programs are the strongest at COM? What are those strengths?
A: Again, I feel I would need to research and speak with academic deans, instructors, students, and community leaders to assess which programs encourage students to go on to an upper-level university, which programs reflect the current job market - trends in growth and recession, and also research retention and graduation rates for each COM’s programs. A comparison study of programs at other institutions to those offered at COM would be beneficial in assessing a program’s strengths.
Q: What should COM do to address its facilities needs? Would you support a bond proposal? Why or why not?
A: A total needs assessment from each department as well as from facility maintenance would be needed to make an informed decision. I realize that College of the Mainland is 40+ years old and as any structure that age, is in need to repairs. Safety is of utmost importance and should be addressed first and then based on findings, additional improvements and repairs should be addressed.
Q: If you support of bond proposal, when should it be called? If you don't support a bond proposal, what alternatives do you have to address facility needs?
A: If I support a bond proposal, it should not be called until a total needs assessment for the college has been accomplished and the community has had input in the needs assessment.