Endorsement: Iftekhar for CLC board

The College of Lake County faces a number of challenges in the years ahead, from dealing with a potential $8 million budget deficit in the upcoming year to redefining its curriculum to meet the educational needs and demands in a post-pandemic world.

Two candidates are running for a two-year term on the Grayslake-based college's board of trustees. Vaseem Iftekhar, a retired pharmaceutical executive from Hawthorn Woods who was appointed to the seat in 2020, faces attorney Robert J. Tomei Jr. of Gurnee.

Iftekhar, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2019, envisions the college as a "gateway" for personal self-improvement, regardless of one's stage in life, at an affordable price. He points to the college's new Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee as an example of how CLC is addressing the need to fill a void in local tech and manufacturing jobs.

Iftekhar also supports continuing and finding new partnerships with local businesses and governments to help the college maintain its educational relevancy and financial stability, as well as keep student costs in check.

Tomei, who is making his first run for public office, declined an opportunity to be interviewed by an editorial board representative but did respond to written questions. A self-described fiscal conservative, he said he would evaluate the college's budget to find ways to eliminate wasteful spending and assure academic resources are properly allocated.

While CLC has been innovative with its remote learning strategy during the pandemic - such as creating parking lot Wi-Fi "hot spots" for students to study in their cars - Tomei advocates quickly moving back to in-person or hybrid learning, saying remote learning hasn't provided "meaningful access" to college resources.

Both candidates agree the college needs to maintain a commitment to keeping tuition affordable to all students, as well as providing learning opportunities for all Lake County residents.

Iftekhar had been a member of the Daily Herald Editorial Board's sounding board until his appointment to the CLC board. Based on our interviews and his board service, we find h e has strong experience and a solid vision for the college's future, and he provides an additional voice of diversity on the board. He therefore gets our endorsement.

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