By DAVID PUJOL
Martha Durkin had one thing to say to Pima Community College students: “Follow your dreams. Find out what you’re good at and what you like – which are usually the same thing – and do it!”
Durkin is a city official, attorney, wife and mother and is the newest board member for PCC representing District 5.
Earlier this year, Durkin, like any other person that morning, picked up a newspaper and saw the opening for the PCC board member position. Shocked that there was an opening in her district, she decided to apply for it.
What made her want to represent the voices of PCC students and District 5? “I’ve lived in District 5 for 22 years and Pima College students are our community,” she said.
In mid-August, Durkin was one of five candidates evaluated by a committee of nine Tucson community members to see if she was the right candidate for the vacancy on PCC’s Board of Govenors.
Even with her previous experience and knowledge of Tucson, she did not feel confident she would get the position.
“I was very happy, honored and a little surprised and that continues,” Durkin said.
While she may not have been confident, the committee was.
“Martha was very clear with her answers whenever asked a question, but she showed the board she had experience dealing with the issues,” said Alec Moreno, 21, the PCC student representative on the committee that selected Durkin. “I think whatever expectations I have she will meet. She is an outstanding candidate in the eyes of all the committee members.”
“I was very impressed with Martha because she had a good handle on the importance of education and the need to get out in the community and find their needs and desires,” said Yolanda Herrera, a community representative on the committee.
Durkin has lived in Tucson since 1976 when she left Wisconsin to pursue a law degree at the University of Arizona where she attended for both her undergraduate and master’s degrees.
Her law degree specializes in employment law, governmental relations and administration. She has spent half of the last 30 years as an attorney in practice and the other half in administrative positions, most recently as Tucson’s Deputy City Manager.
“My expectation is for Martha to learn what PCC is and make sure every decision she makes while on the board will better PCC,” said Phil Lopes, a community representative on the selection committee.
Durkin will hold the board position until December 2016 when a special election will be held to select a board member for a longer term. She intends to run for the position in that election.
Durkin believes she is obligated to run so long as she feels accepted or the position ends up not being a good fit. She hopes this won’t be the case.
“I hope that I can be successful at Pima Community College,” Durkin said.
Apart from work, Durkin wants to see Tucson back on its feet.
“We all need to work to improve the image here, and just make sure our kids want to live here,” Durkin said. “As anyone who knows when you try to leave Tucson you really can’t; it becomes home in a very meaningful way.”