Reformers' election means new balance of power on COD board

 
 
Updated 4/8/2015 1:28 AM
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  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comCharles Bernstein, left and Deanne Mazzochi, right, chat with Kathleen Hamilton as they celebrate their win for the COD board Tuesday night in Elmhurst.

    Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comCharles Bernstein, left and Deanne Mazzochi, right, chat with Kathleen Hamilton as they celebrate their win for the COD board Tuesday night in Elmhurst.

Tuesday's clean sweep of the College of DuPage board of trustees race by the three candidates supported by Trustee Kathy Hamilton has reversed the balance of power on the board that oversees the embattled school.

The election of "Clean Slate" running mates Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, Frank Napolitano of Bloomingdale and Charles Bernstein of Wheaton means that Hamilton -- a vocal critic of school President Robert Breuder -- will no longer be the lone voice on many issues.

On Tuesday night, the Clean Slate candidates issued a statement that said voters have given them "a clear mandate to clean up" the Glen Ellyn-based community college.

They said they will "put an end to the attitude that has persisted there that taxpayers don't count, and insiders rule." In addition, they will, "end business as usual" and put taxpayers, students, and faculty ahead of the insider interests."

With four votes on the seven-member board, Hamilton is expected to make a bid for the chairmanship of the panel. She also can pursue a promised attempt to "claw back" a highly controversial buyout of Breuder's contract.

The retirement package, which the COD board voted twice to approve in January, calls for Breuder to receive a lump-sum payment of $762,868 when he steps down next March.

But the deal sparked outrage from some residents, students and faculty members. Several state lawmakers proposed measures to prevent other public institutions from approving similar agreements. There also were calls in the General Assembly for a performance audit of COD's finances.

The controversy transformed what historically has been a sleepy campaign into the hottest and most-watched race in DuPage County, drawing the attention of watchdog groups from both inside and outside DuPage and organizations from across the political spectrum.

Hamilton argues that Breuder should be ousted, for cause, with no significant severance payment. She said she believes he should have been dismissed for lack of oversight a year ago when financial irregularities surfaced at the college radio station.

Mazzochi, Napolitano and Bernstein have promised to approve plans for the state to do the performance audit. They say they also want to ensure the college is "fully cooperating" with several ongoing investigations.

The trio said in a statement that they want to work to restore the public's faith in COD "so that we can get back to the purpose of the college: to provide the best possible education to each and every College of DuPage student."

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