COC to hold special election for vacant board seat 


Board meets in closed session about Chancellor Van Hook’s evaluation for third straight meeting 

The Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees, which oversees College of the Canyons, will place a special election on the November ballot to fill an open seat on the board following the resignation of Chuck Lyon last week. 

The board unanimously voted to do so during a special meeting held Monday morning.

Lyon’s former seat, which represents Trustee Area 1, will now be part of a special election consolidated with the upcoming November general election. He told The Signal last week that he still has a “great love for the college” but “politics is not for me.”

The cost of the special election will be $40,000, on top of the traditional cost of an election. Whomever wins that election would fulfill the remainder of the term before that seat is voted on again in 2026.

Lyon had won the seat in 2022 after serving as the COC football coach from 1998 to 2006, helping the program to its first state and national titles in 2004, and as athletic director from 2007 to 2016.

Jerry Danielson was voted as the board’s new vice president and will relinquish his role as board clerk at the next meeting. 

The COC board will soon be down two members with the expected resignation of Joan MacGregor on Aug. 5. That seat will likely be filled by appointment due to her not resigning prior to last week’s deadline for a special election for a seat to be included with the general election. 

MacGregor, who was most recently re-elected in 2022, said she purposely chose this direction to allow the board to appoint someone. She has been on the board since 1993. 

“I think that the last three appointments that this district has had appointment processes over the many years that I participated in, the field of candidates was three or four times the amount of people that filed for election,” MacGregor said. “And I think that people, for whatever reasons, are much more apt to come in and interview for an appointment to the board than they are to run.”  

MacGregor said she is hopeful that a replacement would be in place sometime in September. 

Monday’s meeting also included an extended closed session that lasted roughly an hour and a half. The contents of that closed session were regarding the evaluation of Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, the third straight meeting to include such a designation. 

Each of the previous two closed sessions lasted approximately three hours. Board President Edel Alonso announced after each one, including Monday’s, that no reportable action was taken. 

Van Hook, who has been the head of the college since 1988 and celebrated her 36th anniversary on Monday, was not in attendance on Monday, with her seat being occupied by Deputy Chancellor Diane Fiero. In a statement read on Van Hook’s behalf, Fiero said the chancellor had a pre-planned commitment booked using the board calendar that was approved in December.  

“This meeting was scheduled last Friday in full knowledge of that information and 24 hours provided no flexibility or reasonable time frame to adjust so that she could attend,” Fiero said on behalf of Van Hook.  

Multiple individuals spoke up on Monday in support of Van Hook, as did some at last week’s meeting. 

Gary Horton, a member of the COC Foundation board of directors, said Van Hook is responsible for turning the college from a “a mostly dirt lot into the beautiful opportunity-creating campus it is today.”  

Speaking on behalf of Suzette Valladares, a former state assemblywoman who is now running for the state Senate, Jonathan Vallez said COC helped Valladares get to where she is after a four-year university seemed financially and academically unattainable following high school.  

“At COC I flourished,” Vallez said on behalf of Valladares. “I vividly recall the thrill of joining the Model U.N. team and the pivotal moment when Dr. Van Hook rallied support to fund our journey to compete at Harvard. It was more than a competition. It was an opportunity that opened my eyes to new horizons and possibilities.”

The board could potentially be shaken up completely come November, as Alonso, along with Danielson and Sebastian Cazares, have their seats up for election in November.  

Andrew Taban, a representative for Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, announced on Monday his candidacy for Cazares’ seat in Area 3.  

The next COC board meeting is set for July 10 at 5 p.m. That meeting will be preceded by a closed session at 4 p.m. 

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