Jemal sets goals for first term as board trustee

Tim Jemal stands outside the SOCCCD Ronald Reagan Board of Trustees Room where he will take his seat as Area 7 trustee (Zach Cavanagh)

Zach Cavanagh

A new face is coming to the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

At a level of government where those that have the jobs usually keep them, Tim Jemal of Mission Viejo broke through and won the SOCCCD Area 7 trustee seat in the Nov. 6 election. Jemal will be sworn in on Dec. 17 in the Ronald Reagan Board of Trustees Room at Saddleback College.

Jemal’s election was his first try to land an elected office and he was thrilled with the process.

“There’s really nothing like being a candidate for office,” Jemal said “and being a first-time candidate was very energizing, illuminating and exciting.”

While incumbents Dave Lang and William Jay kept their seats easily in Areas 1 and 7 respectively, Jemal had to compete against three other candidates to take to the Area 7 seat, representing Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and some unincorporated areas, as current trustee Frank Meldau steps down from the board.

“I had to work a lot harder than everyone else,” Jemal said. “There were four candidates, and I made a commitment to put forth a robust candidacy. Not being an incumbent made it extremely challenging to reach out to all of the cities and communities in the district.”

Although he will only represent a small portion of the district, Jemal had to campaign from Tustin down to San Clemente to push a platform founded with a main goal to improve student completion and graduation rates.”

“Students have to complete what they came to do here in the first place,” Jemal said. “We need to have a goal of having Saddleback and Irvine Valley College in the top five of graduation rates in California for two-year schools.”

Jemal also hopes to form connections between the schools and local businesses to help the students go out into the local economy.

“I’m very interested in the role that community colleges can play in providing the skills necessary needed to compete in the 21st century,” Jemal said.

While these goals would mainly help a younger demographic of community college students, the emeritus programs as something Jemal has seen first hand as successful through his 91-year-old father-in-law.

“No doubt that that extended his life and his health,” Jemal said. “During the times he was taking the classes, he felt invigorated. He felt challenged.”

“I think they’re a jewel of the community college district.”

While Jemal does have many goals and ambitions as a first-time trustee, he sees the process as part of the district board.

“I understand I’m one of seven board members,” Jemal said. “I will endeavor to work with them in a productive and collaborative manner to put forth policies in the best interest of the district.”

As a self-described guardian of taxpayer money, Jemal said he is “committed to being transparent, fiscally conservative, and responsive to the community.”

While the fight for his seat is over, Jemal acknowledges the most important part of his job is coming up.

“I’m going to be judged on my actions,” Jemal said. “I’ve said it’s time to get to work.”