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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Los Rios board trustee Pamela Haynes continues to be a strong voice at the table

(Photo courtesy of Pamela Haynes)
(Photo courtesy of Pamela Haynes)

In preparation for her run for re-election in November, Los Rios Area 5 Trustee Pamela Haynes purchased advertising space for her political statements in voter guides, mailed out envelopes stuffed with endorsement requests, and connected with community groups and organizations. She also took several community-oriented political action moves to gain an endorsement from the Democratic Party.

Haynes won re-election in November, having served for 21 years on the Los Rios board of trustees. In her five terms as a trustee, she has done a lot of work on behalf of the community.

“I am fortunate in that I’ve served for a number of years,” said Haynes. “I am known within the trustee area in which I live and serve. And I’ve been fortunate. I think I’ve only had one close election.” 

The Los Rios board consists of eight trustees representing seven geographical areas to provide oversight of the district’s half a billion-dollar annual budget, among other duties. One of those positions is held by a student trustee, elected by students from all four Los Rios campuses. 

Haynes said the board plays a significant role in overseeing the district’s fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities. According to Haynes, one of the jobs of a trustee is to collaborate with the board to approve budgets and all enacted policies.

“The Los Rios district has four campuses—four colleges, but it has six centers. It’s one of the largest in the state of California in terms of geography, but also in terms of the student population,” said Haynes. “It falls around the fifth largest district in the state serving close to 75,000 students. So it is a large oversight body to ensure that money is spent appropriately, that policies are promulgated, and that there is a smooth running of the district operationally.”

The board is also responsible for selecting the chancellor in charge of the district, Brian King.

“We don’t really manage our chancellor. We hire that person to oversee and to operationalize the policies that we set as a board,” Haynes said. “That person is responsible for ensuring that he or she hires the best possible professionals in their fields to actually implement the policies that we approve at the board.”

Haynes was first appointed to the board’s seat in 1999 for 19 months when there was a vacancy. Haynes said that after nearly two years, there were many people who wanted to become a trustee. 

“At some point, and because I had been involved in the community and all this other stuff when the opening happened in this trustee area, three people came up at different times and said, ‘There’s this opening, you should run,’” said Haynes. “So the first time they said it, I just listened and walked away. But by the time that third person said it, I said, ‘Well, maybe I should think about this.’ So that was the impetus for getting me to do something. I don’t know that I would have run for a seat if I would have had to run a campaign.”

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Haynes was born and raised in Los Angeles, starting her college education at Santa Monica College, then transferring to UCLA. While working and raising a family, she got a bachelor’s degree in political science and history and a double minor in American institutions and African institutions at UCLA. In 1987, while working for a labor union at Western Airlines, Haynes recalled that she was encouraged to apply to Harvard. A group of consultants came to analyze the airline and recognized her work on health and safety. 

“They started talking to all of the unions,” said Haynes. “There were multiple unions working for Western Airlines property. Ours was also one of them. And it got mentioned that the only [union-management] partnership that the airline had was my health and safety committee.”  

Haynes said she laughed at the idea of going to Harvard, leaving her children and her home. But the recruiter was persistent and Haynes decided that she wanted to take the graduate school assessment. 

“I guess I did well enough, and I applied to the Kennedy School for graduate school. And so, my master’s degree is in public administration,” said Haynes. “It was a wonderful experience, but that’s how I got to Harvard. Somebody said, ‘You should do this.’ And they had to say it a few times. And I find where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

In 1989, when Haynes first came to Sacramento, she was involved in community development and grassroots organizing. She recalled that there was a lot of energy and focus on political activism to ensure that the voices of African Americans in the Sacramento community were heard. That energy was harnessed most effectively through votes for local representatives and advocates. In 1991, Haynes and others in marginalized communities created five redistricting maps, one of which was for the city of Sacramento. 

“We did one for the county supervisors. We created a map for the SMUD board. We created a map for Sac City Unified School District. And we created a map for Skyway, which is Sacramento Untitled County Office of Education,” said Haynes. “And I was one of the folks that said we need to bring in other interesting groups of color and other sort of minoritized folks, and so we began working with and aligning with the Latino group of folks who were doing the same thing. An Asian group of folks that were doing the same thing, again, [a] lesbian group. [We were] really trying to maximize their influence on that.”

Haynes recalled the redistricting projects as one of the most important contributions to ensuring that voices of all minorities were represented. 

“So what you see today was really started back then in the 1990s to ensure sort of a fairness and an equitable analysis and view of how to create maps that maximize, and that provides opportunities for folks of color and other marginalized folks to not only run in the seats but win them.” 

Haynes said the thing she loves about being a Los Rios trustee is working on behalf of the community. Noting that her education played a key role in her ability to achieve so much in her career, Haynes said that working families remain very important to her.

“I care about economic development because economic development drives jobs. I like policy, but there’s a saying that goes, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” said Haynes. “For marginalized communities, many are not at the table. And as a result, there need to be voices at the table. They need to be at the table when the big decisions are made, where it’s our voices, not somebody interpreting what we say, but it is someone at that table, telling others what we think. And I think that’s critical.”

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