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Sierra College Board seat being saved for recovery

Family says trustee is recovering from June accident
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A Sierra College trustee who was in a car accident in June could still serve on the board if she chooses to and is able to recover. Elaine Rowen Reynoso, who represents Area 4 of the Sierra Joint Community College District, was injured in a car accident in Virginia when an SUV struck the rental car she was in. Also in the car were her husband, former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, and their grandson. They were transported to a Virginia hospital, and Rowen Reynoso and Reynoso were listed in critical condition. The Journal has learned that both Rowen Reynoso and Reynoso have since returned to California, but have been unavailable for comment. Rowen Reynoso’s board area covers Rocklin Unified School District as well as Eureka, Newcastle and parts of Loomis Union school districts. She is also a commissioner for First 5 Placer. Rowen Reynoso’s family released a statement to the Journal Tuesday about her condition. “Elaine is healing, and we have appreciated all the love and support from all the people who love and care about her,” the statement said. Attempts to learn more information about Rowen Reynoso’s current condition as well as that of Reynoso and their grandson, were not successful as of press time. According to Jeannette Bischoff, executive assistant in the Sierra College President’s Office, Rowen Reynoso’s seat on the board is not up for election until 2012. Bischoff said Rowen Reynoso could chose to resign if she wants to, or the board could take action to fill the seat again if it is eventually considered vacant. Vacancies on the board are determined by government code 1770. This code says that a number of things can occur for a seat to be vacant including the death of an incumbent, his or her removal from office, his or her resignation, his or her ceasing to be a resident of the area the seat serves and other factors. The code also says a seat will be considered vacant if the incumbent can’t fulfill his or her duties for three consecutive months, except when prevented by sickness or absence from the state with permission required by law. If Rowen Reynoso does not vacate the seat, it will be hers until 2012, said Jené Hallam, executive assistant in the Sierra College President’s Office. “The easy answer is it’s Elaine’s seat, and it’s hers to give up,” Hallam said. “It would not be appropriate at this time for (the board members) to assume her intent.” Bischoff said if the seat does become vacant for any reason, including if Rowen Reynoso does decide to resign, the board has two options: it can hold a special election, or it can appoint someone to the seat. Appointing a new member would include an open application time and interviews in a public meeting, Bischoff said. Board President Barbara Vineyard said the board hasn’t been in a huge rush to have a discussion about the seat, because it has been waiting for updates on Rowen Reynoso’s condition. “There has been no official discussion, because of course we were not completely aware of what her condition was,” Vineyard said. “If we hear from her that she is recuperating and getting stronger every day … then we would be leaving the position there until she comes back. The fact that she is home may mean she is ready to come back soon.” Vineyard said if the seat does become vacant, she thinks appointing a new member would be the best way to go. “If it was to happen now, I assume that would be the choice,” she said. Sierra Trustee Scott Leslie said the board is really just waiting to hear about Rowen Reynoso. “We are in a waiting mode, and just hoping she recovers,” Leslie said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com