Scott Schmidt is a graduate student in public administration at California State University, Chico, a business owner, and the vice president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association.
He is also the lone challenger to incumbent Tami Nelson in the Los Rios Community College District Board’s Trustee Area 7 race in the November election.
The board’s Area 7 seat represents Elk Grove east of Highway 99 as well as southwestern Sacramento County communities such as Wilton, Florin, and Sloughhouse.
This race’s winner will make decisions that will impact more than 75,000 students at six education centers and four community colleges such as Cosumnes River College.
Schmidt spoke with the Citizen about his concerns over students who are struggling.
As a student, he said that he noticed that many students his age are experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.
“A large number of community college students are homeless,” Schmidt told the Citizen. “Thirty percent of students are food insecure – they don’t have the means to eat and they often go to bed hungry.”
He also noted that many college graduates are burdened with debt and resort to accepting low-paying jobs.
“You need to have better caretakers of our community colleges to help guide our students to better results and outcomes,” the candidate said about his run for the Los Rios board.
Schmidt is a Los Angeles County native who studied at a community college before transferring to CSU Chico to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in public administration. He is a grandson of immigrants who fled Cuba when his mother was 2 years old.
“It was a difficult experience for them in a new country and knowing little English,” Schmidt wrote on his campaign’s website. “They never forgot the generosity this country gave them.”
He told the Citizen he became politically active in 2018, due to concerns over homelessness and increased taxation on working families.
As the vice president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, Schmidt said that he worked with the NAACP and the SacLatino Community Roundtable who also raised issues over high sales taxes impacting working-class people.
“I’m with them 100% against any taxes that harm those who are most disadvantaged,” he said. “(Sales taxes) may sound small for a lot of people, but for those who are barely getting by or can barely afford rent, it does add up.”
In his campaign for the Los Rios board, Schmidt said that he is focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the college district’s budget. He anticipates pay cuts for educators and district staff in the future.
“There will be wage cuts and there will be furloughs, whether the administrators admit it or not,” Schmidt said. “I have talked to the trustees and they hinted that 18 months down the line, the funding will dry up.”
He said that he wants Los Rios to minimalize the financial impacts, and one solution is to establish a workers’ fund to support employees.
“They should have a workers’ fund to make sure they don’t have these problems, and make sure they are cared for and protected as priorities,” Schmidt said.
Los Rios officials closed all of their district’s campuses since March when the COVID-19 pandemic arose in the United States, and they decided to have students continue taking classes online during the fall semester.
Schmidt said that he called for the district to move their classes online in late February after he heard reports of Los Rios district students being possibly exposed to COVID-19. He said that Los Rios officials did little in response at the time.
“They said, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t happen,’” Schmidt said. “Nobody took it seriously.”
As for his views on the Los Rios district’s online education services, he raised concerns over their use of Proctorio software. He said that the proctoring program can violate users’ privacy and that he heard similar issues from students and faculty.
On his campaign website, Schmidt wrote that Proctorio can change the privacy settings on a user’s computer as well as altering the user’s data.
“It should be an important issue for civil rights,” Schmidt told the Citizen.
Schmidt and the Sacramento Taxpayers Association are hosting an online townhall meeting on Sunday, Oct. 4. He will address the Los Rios Community College District budget in a post COVID-19 world as well as issues that students and district staff could face.
This townhall meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held via the Zoom application. For access, visit Schmidt’s Facebook page at “Scott Schmidt for Los Rios Trustee Area 7.”