Thursday May 15 2008
Cowboy boots to high heels – election has historical significance
By: Dr. Reyes Ortego Special to The News Messenger
Yes, the times, they are a changin’. As the course of presidential debates, primaries and super-delegates move forward, a sense of national pride expands as our dialogue fine-tunes itself toward the presidential elections this November. There is historical significance associated with this particular race to the White House. We are reminded that for the first time in our nation’s history, those who have been vying for the presidency are a sample representation of our varying parts. The presence of white males, a Mexican American, a woman and an African American, by all definitions, describe this juncture as a momentous occasion in the study of the history of presidential elections. Much ahead of the national election curve, California’s northern region and local political history is not so much in the making, but I would argue has already been made. Described as the new bedrock of Republican conservatism, Placer County now adorns a mantlepiece that was once held by our state’s Orange County of the south. This new political distinction is defined by the characteristics of traditional social conservatism. However, it may be surprising to some that parallel characteristics of traditional social liberalism have unfolded, as well. For example, the Sierra College District has earned a statewide reputation of excellence due in part to the cumulative visions of its presidential leadership and the educational philosophy of its faculty and staff. In its 72-year history, Sierra College stands as a higher education institution of prominence. For the past 15 years, new leadership dimensions of expertise have mirrored the demographic shifts of the state of California. While our nation learns how to embrace the notion of presidential feminism and colorism, presidential diversity has long proven itself worthy at Sierra College. The diverse academic and life experiences of two Mexican-American presidents and a female president have added to the rich legacy of those before them. Dr. Kevin M. Ramirez, Dr. Morgan Lynn and Dr. Leo E. Chavez have continued to build upon the educational and workforce opportunities that align the needs of our region with those of the state. The presence of women in leadership roles at Sierra College today is indeed a marker of success with a representation shift of 0 percent in 1969 to about 57 percent for the current academic year. Albeit white women, the tradition of leadership roles once held predominately by men are reminiscent of times past. Yes, times are changing. And the first to let us know would be the mothers, wives and daughters of the founding fathers of higher education in Placer, Nevada, Sacramento and El Dorado counties. Without a doubt, they would be quite proud of the inroads that have been made as we respond to our ever-growing and demographically changing region. – Dr. Reyes Ortega is a counselor and professor of history at Sierra College and lives in Auburn.