Bob Livengood is back on the campaign trail.
The former Mayor of Milpitas is currently running to be Trustee on the San Jose Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) board. His opponent is the incumbent, Rudy Nasol.
In terms of his own education, when Livengood was 18 years old and had graduated from high school, his family didn’t have the means to send him to a 4-year university.
“So I went to San Jose City College and Evergreen Valley College. I ended up getting my Associate degree that way, and later got my Bachelor’s,” shared Livengood in an interview with The Beat.
He got his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Southern New Hampshire University in 1985.
Said Livengood, “While at college, I had already become a member of the city council. I had my own business, too. I was pretty busy. Which is why I didn’t finish my 4-year degree. I had a lot going on.”
To boot, he was only 20 years old, the youngest-ever Milpitas city councilman. The year was 1976. He would go on to be elected to city council 7 times and the mayoral seat 3 times.
“As a very young kid…other kids were interested in baseball and other stuff, and I was interested in politics,” said Livengood. “I remember my 6th-grade teacher called me and said to hang around after class. She said you need to stay interested in government. I had run for student body president of our elementary school, and [later] high school. I always had an interest in politics. It seemed to be something that impacted people’s lives. If you don’t believe who’s in the white house matters, or who’s in the halls of congress matters, or even on city council, you’re ignoring what’s going on. I always felt politics was important and being in elected office was a noble cause of sorts. I moved to Milpitas when I was 9 and knew the community. And I thought I could do this.”
He then put his passion in the present tense: “The other day I was driving up Montague Expressway and saw that overdressing from the Great Mall side of Montague over to BART. And I drove to the BART parking lot.” Indeed, Livengood at one time helped to approve it. “My favorite part of having to serve is seeing things that I helped approve. And I didn’t do anything by myself; we always had other people that contributed. But it’s always cool to see something rise out of the ground—public improvements that will make people’s lives better…”
Livengood actually started working on BART back in the mid-1980s, long before its 2020 Milpitas launch.
“The best part is the gratification in seeing your vision come into reality.”
Nowadays that vision pertains to education: “If it weren’t for community college, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to have a college education.”
Livengood got partial scholarships to attend UC schools, but his family couldn’t make up the difference. He said of his current Trustee race, “I want to make sure that opportunity is there in the future for people like me. People who don’t have the opportunity to just write a check to a UC or private college and send kids to school.
“Community colleges perform an incredibly important service to our community, and I want to do my part to make sure that opportunity is there for any years to come, and that the district is able to help students like me get to a 4-year university or get a degree, or in many cases, learn a trade. A lot of folks who go here are getting ready for nursing degrees or other medical field jobs. Some people use it to take classes to make themselves more attractive in the job market, or many want a promotion for work.”
Livengood noted that he would seek to be an attentive and watchful Trustee: “I think we have to take a closer look,” he said. “In the past, the board has looked at what to do with 27 vacant acres of land the district owns—it’s a mess because the board signed a contract against the developer, and the developer has filed a lawsuit against the board. I want to figure out how to use that 27 acres to develop student housing…”
He spoke of students who need such housing because they’re working while attending school, and facing not only stress, but a real risk of poverty and homelessness.
The next issue? “It takes too long for some of these students to get through 2 years. The danger is if they get into college and because of economic hardship, they have to drop out. And it’s difficult to come back…
“We’ve got to figure out ways to get these young adults enrolled in our college. That we do everything we can to get them in and out quickly, enrolled in the workforce or into a 4-year university…finding ways to get them through their coursework quicker.
“Those are the kind of things I think I can help with if I get elected.”
Learn more about the candidate at boblivengood.com.