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Peraza takes over for Aguilar Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Aug 20 2011 12:00 PM

Humberto Peraza Jr. was sworn in by the Southwestern Community College District governing board Aug. 9 to fill a vacancy left by former board member Nick Aguilar.

Peraza, 37, will serve the remainder of a four-year term, which expires in November 2012.

"I applied for the position because I thought I could make a difference," he said. "I also knew there were tough decisions to make in the next few years and I wanted to be a part of that."

Southwestern College governing board president Tim Nader said Peraza would help bridge the gap and build consensus among the board.

"I was looking for somebody who could work well with the rest of the board, has the college's best interests in mind and also could tackle a learning curve quickly," Nader said. "Humberto has all of those qualities."

Peraza said the number one priority for the college is the selection of a full time president.

"We need someone to lead the way for the next decade or so," he said. "We want someone with honesty and integrity who understands shared governance."

Peraza said the previous board and former college president, Raj Chopra, failed due to a lack of shared governance and the administration not working with the constituency groups.

"I disagreed with many of the decisions that he (Chopra) made and I'd like to see policies created that prevent those types of things from happening again," he said.

Peraza was chosen to fill the vacancy over former interim Chula Vista Councilman Mitch Thompson, Nora Vargas, who is the vice president of community engagement for Planned Parenthood, and Chula Vista Ethics Commission board member Chris Shilling.

Peraza recently launched his own government relations firm, Counter Point Government Relations, whose clients are in San Diego, Sacramento and Washington D.C.

As a member of the governing board, Peraza will be paid $400 month.

Peraza graduated from San Diego State University and majored in political science with a minor in Spanish.

He worked with elected officials for 13 years, including California Congressman Xavier Becerra in Washington D.C., advising the congressman on legislative issues related to the environment, sports and arts.

He also served as the district chief of staff for Congressman Bob Filner for nearly five years.

In 2010 he ran against Aguilar's wife, Patricia, for a seat on the Chula Vista City Council and lost.

Most recently he worked as the senior policy advisor to San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso.

The next board meeting will include a public hearing on the budget on Aug. 24.

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