Five years after retiring as a teacher and administrator, William "Bill" Jay is returning to the South Orange County Community College District as its newest trustee.
Jay will fill a seat on the district's governing board after decisively winning a special, mail-in election Tuesday in which less than 10% of eligible voters returned ballots.
More than 83% of voters chose Jay over Gary V. Miller, the only other candidate. "Of course, I am very pleased and deeply honored that the people would vote for me so overwhelmingly," Jay said. "I am eager to get into the harness and serve the students."
Miller could not be reached for comment.
The college district comprises Irvine Valley and Saddleback community colleges. Before retiring in 1999, Jay held an array of teaching and administrative positions, including president, at Saddleback over a 24-year span.
Jay fills the position vacated by Eric Norby, brother of county Supervisor Chris Norby, whom trustees appointed in October after trustee Dorothy Fortune resigned amid allegations she didn't live in the district.
Faculty members protested Norby's appointment, saying the board did not give them and others in the district greater input into the decision. They gathered more than the 6,500 signatures needed to nullify the appointment and force an election that voting officials have said was the first of its kind in the county.
Jay said one of the district's most pressing issues is contract negotiations with the teachers union, which have left instructors without a salary agreement for more than a year. The South Orange County Community College Faculty Assn. endorsed Jay.
"A campus, in my view, should be a quiet place for reflection and thought. It cannot be a place wrapped up in conflict," he said.