Tidbits about the B.C. school trustee election raceOctober 15, 2014
Nominations have closed and the race is on for B.C. school trustee wannabes. The job for all of us now is to get to know who is running in our school districts so we can make an informed choice on Nov. 15.
GOTTA KEEP BUSY
Christine Younghusband, already acclaimed for a second term as a Sunshine Coast school trustee, is also in the running to become Sechelt mayor, and she’s not the only one seeking double duty. Gary Cleave, a former communications director for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district, is a first-time candidate for both school board and the Maple Ridge mayor’s job.
YOUNG CANDIDATE WITH PROMISE(S)
At 19, Ravi Parmar is one of the youngest candidates in the race. A former student activist, who is now studying political science at the University of Victoria, Parmar wants a seat on the Sooke board of education. He led a student protest in 2011 that some say pushed government to replace the deteriorating Belmont secondary school. “I represent the voices of the future and as an SD62 grad, I understand the district’s gifts and challenges,” he told me in an email. “My goal as a trustee is to facilitate the creation of a positive, fully-funded local system that will keep students interested, engaged and supported every step of the way.”
FIRED ONCE BUT UNDETERRED
Seventeen candidates are in the race to replace Mike McKay, who has been Cowichan Valley’s official trustee since the former school board was fired in 2012 for failing to balance its budget. The candidates include five who were among those terminated – but not the spunky Eden Haythornthwaite, who led the charge as board chair. The board has seven seats, down from nine previously.
ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH
Michael Ewen, a Surrey teacher, has been a New Westminster trustee for more than three decades but says he’s not ready to quit yet. “These are perilous times for public education,” he wrote on Facebook. “We need strong advocates to fight for increased funding and the willingness to support innovative ways to help all our students.” One of the challenges he identified is getting government approval to replace the aging New Westminster secondary school, a project in development for more than a decade. Ewen is the longest-serving trustee in the province.
PARENT LEADERS STEPPING UP
Ann Whiteaker, BCCPAC president from 2009-12, has thrown her hat into the ring in Victoria along with a dozen other hopefuls. There are several other parent leaders in the province also trying to make the leap to school board, including Surrey DPAC president Bob Holmes, Coquitlam DPAC president Chuck Denison, Comox Valley DPAC chair Tonia Frawley, Langley DPAC exec member Suzanne Perreault and former Vancouver DPAC chair Gwen Giesbrecht.
NOW THAT WE SEE THE BIG PICTURE
Three parents who fought long and hard, but unsuccessfully, to save Cedar secondary from closure in June are taking their fight to the ballot box. But Scott Kimler, Steve Rae and Stephanie Higginson insist they aren’t single-issue candidates. “Over the course of the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to know a lot of things about our district that I think we could do better,” Higginson told Coast FM. They’re among 23 candidates for nine positions.
WHAT DID YOU SAY YOUR NAME WAS?
Richmond residents who vote along party lines will have to read their ballots carefully. Six parties with similar names have candidates running for school trustee: Rite Richmond, Richmond Community Coalition, Richmond Reform, Renew Richmond, Richmond First and Richmond Citizens Association. Good luck with that.
WILL THESE MONIKERS BE PERSUASIVE?
In Delta, meanwhile, party names are more descriptive (although not necessarily more helpful): Kids Matter, Independents Working for You, and Responsible Education and Academic Leadership Society (REAL) are the three parties with candidates in the race.
FREE ‘PRISONERS’ FROM COMPULSORY EDUCATION
A Burnaby candidate compares schools to prisons. “Fellow citizens, it is time that we begin to question our institution of compulsory schooling,” Elias Ishak says in the Georgia Straight. “Compulsory schooling has ruined, not improved, class mobility, and the state in effect now has a monopoly on certification of nearly all professionals. What a disgrace. Society would not collapse if we redeemed our independence. Do we prefer equality in slavery to inequality in freedom? That is the question.”
FROM ONE PARTY TO ANOTHER
Ken Denike has been a long-time Vancouver school trustee as a member of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). He was first elected 30 years ago, but the NPA recently dumped him and his colleague Sophia Woo after they made controversial comments about a new district policy to protect transgender students. But Denike and Woo have joined a new party and are still in the race. They say their party, Vancouver First, has an important power base in the Chinese community that will give them an advantage.
SOME HOT, SOME NOT
Voters in some school districts will have an abundance of choice when they go to the polls, but others won’t have any. Vancouver, for example, has 29 candidates for nine spots while Surrey has 24 for seven and Coquitlam has 25 for nine. In other districts (Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky, Stikine, Gold Trail, Okanagan-Similkameen) some trustees have been acclaimed because only one person was interested in the position.