Sean Hassan and Julie Ann Nitsch, who won seats on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees in Tuesday’s runoff, say expanding child care for ACC students is one of their top priorities.
The lack of such care at ACC campuses not only hinders students’ progress but keeps others from enrolling in the first place, Hassan said. “One of the first things is to sit down with other board members one by one and get a sense of their point of view,” he said.
Hassan, who owns a child care and early childhood education center outside Houston, received 65 percent of the vote in his race against Michael J. Lewis, an auditor with the Texas comptroller’s office, for a six-year term in Place 4, based on the final but unofficial count.
Hassan, 37, succeeds Jeffrey K. Richard, who opted not to run for re-election. Besides providing affordable child care for ACC students, Hassan hopes to expand public transportation to make it easier for students to get to campuses.
He also wants to pursue closer ties with the business community to foster more internships and other opportunities for students to explore the job market. And he says ACC should offer job training and workforce development to high school juniors and seniors.
In the Place 9 race, Nitsch, a political activist and former ACC student and employee, received 61 percent to defeat Guadalupe “Lupe” Sosa, a retired social service program manager for the state. Nitsch, 31, will serve two years remaining in the term of Allen Kaplan, who resigned.
She wants the college to establish a student health center, perhaps in partnership with Travis County, and to boost access to mental health services. Bus service to its campuses also needs to be increased, she says.
Sosa was elected to Place 6 in 2010 and had decided against running again — until Kaplan resigned from Place 9. Sosa led Nitsch by 6 percentage points in the Nov. 8 election, in which no one earned the majority needed to win, but Nitsch wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s outcome.
“We had a lot of grass-roots efforts — block walking, phone banking, texting,” Nitsch said.
Nitsch has worked in the learning lab at the South Austin campus and took time off from her studies in May to join U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Asked whether she still plans to enroll at Texas State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science, as she said during the campaign, Nitsch replied that she didn’t want to talk about her personal life.
Hassan and Nitsch will assume their seats at the Jan. 17 board meeting. Nicole Eversmann and Nora de Hoyos Comstock won seats Nov. 8 and were sworn in last week.
All ACC trustees are elected at-large by voters in the college’s taxing district, which encompasses parts of six counties.