Three of nine seats on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees, which oversees 11 campuses and a vast taxing district, are being contested in the Nov. 6 election.
Trustees serve six-year terms for no pay and are elected at large in the district, which takes in the city of Austin — including portions of the Eanes and Pflugerville school districts within the city — as well as the Austin, Del Valle, Elgin, Hays, Leander, Manor and Round Rock school districts. Registered voters throughout the ACC taxing district are eligible to vote for a candidate for each contested seat or place. Seven people, including two incumbents, are running for election.
The incumbent, Barbara P. Mink, 73, was first elected to ACC’s board in 2000 and re-elected in 2006 and 2012. A Northeast Austin resident, she is serving her third stint as board chairwoman, having been elected to that position by her fellow trustees. Mink is a professor and program director at California-based Fielding Graduate University and former director of the community college leadership program at the University of Texas. She has been a board member of the Arc of the Capital Area. She has a bachelor’s degree in math, a master’s in teaching and a doctorate in educational administration, all from Duke University.
Mitch Fuller, 50, is a business development consultant from Cedar Park. Fuller, who ran unsuccessfully for ACC’s board in 2016, is a Texas Army National Guard veteran who previously served on the Cedar Park City Council. He is a member of the Leander school district’s bond oversight advisory committee, the Leander Chamber of Commerce board and the KLRU community advisory board. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.
Betty W. Hwang, who was elected in 2012, is not seeking another term.
Douglas Gibbins, 51, is a commercial real estate broker who lives in Austin’s Brentwood neighborhood. Gibbins, 51, ran unsuccessfully for ACC’s board in 2016. He serves as chairman of ACC’s Highland campus advisory committee. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, a master’s in engineering and a master’s in business administration, all from the University of Texas.
Stephanie Gharakhanian, 33, is a lawyer for the nonprofit Workers Defense Project. She lives in North Austin and is a former member of the city’s construction advisory commission and of an ACC task force on construction standards. Gharakhanian has a bachelor’s degree in premedicine studies and international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Northeastern University.
Sarah Mills, 48, is director of government relations and regulatory affairs for the Texas Association for Home Care and Hospice. Mills, who lives in North Austin, is a former chairwoman of the nonprofit Austin Tenants Council. She has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Austin College and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling from the University of North Texas.
Julie Ann Nitsch, 32, is the incumbent, having been elected to the Place 9 seat in 2016 to fill the unexpired term of Allan Kaplan, who had resigned. Nitsch, who lives in Southwest Austin, is a self-employed political activist. She has worked with the Survivor Justice Project to assist victims of sexual assault and with the Austin Young Democrats. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in communication with a certificate in education through online courses at Angelo State University, as well as an associate degree in government from ACC.
Lora H. Weber, 66, lives in Round Rock and, with her husband, owns a local ice cream shop. She has been deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, director of external relations for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and chairwoman of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce. She founded the Austin Threshold Choir and sings with fellow members for patients at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House. She also volunteers as a scuba diving instructor. Weber holds a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 election starts Oct. 22. For comprehensive expert reporting on local politics and the upcoming November elections, visit statesman.com/elections .