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2017 Vancouver By-Election Wrap-Up | School Board

Vancouver School Board 2017 New Trustees to Be Sworn in on October 30, 2017

At 7pm this upcoming Monday, October 30th in the main Board room of the Vancouver School Board — located at West Broadway and Fir Streets (your attendance is encouraged) — nine newly-elected Board of Education trustees with be sworn in to sit as our elected VSB representatives through until the next Vancouver civic election, set for less than a year from now, on Saturday, October 20th, 2018. The following nine novice and experienced trustees were elected by a bitterly small turnout of the voting electorate, with only 10.99 per cent of eligible Vancouver voters turning up at the polls on by-election voting day, held on Saturday, October 14th.

2017 Vancouver civic by-election School Board vote

The Vancouver School Board by-election was necessitated arising from the decision of the previous B.C. Liberal Minister of Education, Mike Bernier, and then Premier Christy Clark's administration to fire the Board for failing to pass a budget (which they were going to do on the evening they were fired by the Minister — but that's politics for ya as practiced by the previous, now ousted anti-public-education B.C. Con-Liberal government), and the campaign commitment by Premier John Horgan's newly-elected provincial administration to hold a Vancouver School Board trustee by-election at the earliest possible opportunity in his new administration.


2017 Vancouver Civic By-election VanRamblings Wrap-Up, Part 3: School Board

In today's column, the final by-election wrap-up column (be forwarned, it'll be lengthy, indeed) — sure to please no one, least of all the Green Party of Vancouver — where today we will attempt to provide insight into the exigencies of the by-election, and what the VSB by-election results will mean for all of us over the course of the next year, and into the future.

2017 Vancouver School Board Green Party by-election candidatesGreen School Board trustees Janet Fraser, Dr. Judy Zaichkowski & Estrellita Gonzalez

The Green Party, municipal, provincial or federal, is less a "party" than it is an amalgam of opportunists possessed of no overriding philosophy, other than supposedly being the "environmental party" — and, let's face it, they even have a hard time living up to that claim, given that the Greens believe in moral suasion over legislative inducement for corporations to "do better". Although most of the folks affiliated with the Green Party mean well, given that the Greens don't stand for anything in particular, what you have with the Greens is a rugged group of generally non-political neoliberal (for the record, VanRamblings hates that epithet), almost libertarian, iconoclasts.

Somehow, though — because Vancouver voters generally like federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr — the Green Party manages to secure the votes of a goodly portion of the electorate at the polls: members of the naïve left who believe the Greens are progressive (they're not), and right-of-centre folks who see the Greens as some form of Liberal / Red Tory alliance (which is closer to the mark).

All of which explains why Green Party candidates, including recently fired and even more recently re-elected Vancouver School Board trustee Janet Fraser, emerged as the top vote-getters in the recent by-election.

Incoming Vancouver School Board Chair Janet Fraser

Janet Fraser. The unassuming person in the picture above may, or may not be the incoming Chair of the Vancouver School Board, who up until mere hours before publishing today's column VanRamblings believed would be acclaimed in that position by all nine of the new Board of Education trustees, at the first meeting of the new Board next Monday, October 30th. We are no longer quite so certain — politics at the Board, as would seem to be the case at present, so thick and morbid as to fell a horse in mid-stride.

At no point during the recent Vancouver School Board by-election did VanRamblings endorse Dr. Fraser, nor for that matter any of her Green Party colleagues. We do not believe Dr. Fraser to be a particularly vocal proponent of public education — unlike the five Vision Vancouver by-election candidates, the two One City candidates, or COPE's Diana Day.

Not for no reason did Dr. Janet Fraser support 2014 NPA-elected school board trustee (and the lowest vote-getter) Christopher Richardson as the new Chair of the Vancouver School Board, and six months later when Dr. Fraser demanded that the very same Mr. Richardson step down, chose to vote for his NPA colleague, right-of-centre trustee Fraser Ballantyne (who, even as you read this, is doing his level best to stab Dr. Fraser in both the front and back) as the new Chair, her vote putting the "not at all advocates for public education" NPA in charge at the Vancouver School Board.

Still and all, Dr. Janet Fraser may become the new Chair of the Vancouver School Board. What would that mean for parents with children enrolled in the Vancouver school system, the children / students themselves, and for all those who consider themselves to be advocates of public education?

VanRamblings believes that with Janet Fraser at the helm, public education advocates would find they have a bloody-minded, take no guff, even-handed, largely non-political, dedicated and incredibly hard-working (let's repeat that: incredibly hard-working) Chair of the Vancouver School Board.

Rob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Education, and Mable Elmore, MLA and Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Poverty ReductionRob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Education, and Mable Elmore, MLA, Poverty Reduction

With Janet Fraser at the helm, there'd be no politicking when it comes to negotiating with Rob Fleming, British Columbia BC NDP Minister of Education, and Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore, who has been put in charge of the important poverty reduction file by Premier John Horgan. Negotiations for a speeded-up seismic upgrading / school replacement programme would be straightforward and uncomplicated, with Chairperson Janet Fraser making no untoward demands of the Minister. The same would be true with MLA Mable Elmore when it comes to funding of breakfast programmes in Vancouver's inner-city schools: the negotiations between Chairperson Fraser and MLA Elmore would be straightforward and in the best interests of children enrolled in the Vancouver school system.

Janet Fraser is no flaming radical, nor is she a desk thumper. Rather, Dr. Fraser is even-keeled and thoughtful, with a strong tendency towards evidence-based decision-making. Clearly, Vancouver voters got things right when they cast their ballot for Dr. Janet Fraser as both a balm, and the glue who will hold a somewhat tattered Vancouver School Board together.

Still, as you read this, the NPA is seriously considering supporting second term Vision Vancouver trustee Joy Alexander as the new Board of Education Chair of the Vancouver School Board, Fraser Ballantyne's ignoble hatred and disdain for Janet Fraser so acute and abiding as to perhaps cause him to do the unthinkable: support a Vision Vancouver trustee as Board Chair.

With Dr. Joy Alexander at the helm of the Vancouver School Board, trustees would find they have a calm, reasoned, reassuring and generally non-partisan (or non-political, if you will) trustee at the helm, a calming presence who would listen to all voices at the table and in the community, and who would be a staunch advocate for public education — which would satisfy incoming OneCity Vancouver trustee Carrie Bercic's demand that whoever is chosen as Chair be both a progressive and a vocal public education advocate — and a Chairperson that all trustees, Board administrative staff and the provincial government could both respect and work with in support of a thriving public education system in Vancouver.

Dr. Judy-Zaichkowsky, newly-elected Vancouver Green Party School Board trustee

Dr. Judy Zaichkowski (pictured above): Newly-elected Green Party of Vancouver Board of Education trustee. Experienced. University professor of marketing in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, five year member of SFU's Board of Governors and Associate Dean of SFU's Dean Beedie School of Business. Possesses a Bachelor's degree in home economics. Educator who taught at Vancouver's Point Grey and Templeton Secondary schools. Suffers from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.

When VanRamblings attended the Vancouver Green Party by-election campaign kickoff, we heard Dr. Judy Zaichkowski give one of the most bizarro, intemperate speeches we'd ever heard a political figure make to a crowd of supposed sympathizers (and, no, we're not going to report what she said). Say senior Green Party officials, "Yes, we heard what Judy had to say at the campaign kickoff, and we spoke with her immediately after she gave her speech, strongly expressing our concerns to her. During the by-election campaign period, we worked with Judy to be more thoughtful in her remarks in a public setting and give thought to how the audience might receive her words, encouraging her to be more temperate in her remarks."

Now, we realize how odd it is that VanRamblings might be seen to express a concern about foot-in-mouth disease, given that VanRamblings has a well-known penchant for intemperance — several times in the course of a day, and more often than not requiring surgical intervention. Still. Chances that Dr. Zaichkowsky will make an off-putting, concerning and intemperate remark at the School Board table, causing her fellow trustees to look upon her aghast? VanRamblings would suggest that it's only a matter of time.

Says the Green Party, "We can only hope her professorial nature kicks in."

Estrellita Gonzalez. Founder / Director / President / small business person in charge at Vancouver's seemingly lauded westside Derma Bright Clinic (no mean feat, that). Self-styled "Queen of Living Clean." Has a son enrolled at Eric Hamber Secondary School. Graduate, Distance Education Programme, Thompson Rivers University, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management. And the newly-elected Vancouver School Board trustee VanRamblings feels most sorry for.

Does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea what she's gotten herself into by being elected to the Vancouver School Board as a Board of Education trustee?

Where Vision Vancouver school board candidate Theodora Lamb brought vast community organizing experience to her candidacy, not to mention years of Board experience with the VanCity Credit Union, an organization where Ms. Lamb is Chair of the Governance Committee, and a member of the Audit and Digital Strategy Committees (not to mention her involvement with the BC Co-operative Association), and whose husband is Kurt Heinrich, a former Public Relations Manager with the Vancouver School Board (who knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak), we can find no such community involvement or Board, Council or Committee work in Ms. Gonzalez' résumé. Don't even get us started on newly-elected NPA School Board trustee, Lisa Dominato: mother of a daughter in Grade One at a Vancouver elementary school, Chairperson of the The Kettle Society Board of Directors, an educator with 10 years experience teaching in Vancouver, and most recently the Director, Integrated Services and Safe & Healthy Schools, British Columbia Ministry of Education. In other words, qualified.

Does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea what she's gotten herself into? Says an official with the party Ms. Gonzalez ran as a candidate with ...

"We in the Green Party believe that elected office should not be the personal preserve of those who have dedicated their lives to achieving elected office. As can be seen in the recent elections in Barcelona — which unseated a municipal government that had been in power for 30 years — the Green party is a Commons-based coalition of ordinary citizens, the Green Party — as is the case with Ms. Gonzalez' candidacy, and election to the Vancouver School Board — represents an authentic departure from business as usual in the political sphere. It isn't enough just to win elections; we have to change the rules of the game."

Still, we ask again: does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea of what to expect when she finds herself seated as a Board of Education trustee next Monday at the offices of the Vancouver School Board? We have no doubt about Ms. Gonzalez' capacity to learn, nor her work ethic — given that, as representatives from the Green Party were wont to point out to us, that Ms. Gonzalez made a huge contribution of time and energy to her run for office: there wasn't an activist 'meet the voter' street campaign she wasn't involved in, an all-candidates meeting that she didn't assiduously prepare for, nor a commitment to her party or the voter she didn't meet. But ...

Ms. Gonzalez should know that most trustees, on average (for the $20,031 she'll earn as a trustee) will put in 35 - 40 hours a week meeting the demands of her new job, according to a broad cross-section of current and former trustees with whom we've spoken, a trustee's duty including ...

  • Attendance at the bi-weekly Vancouver School Board meetings, which involves not only attendance at the Board meetings, but participation in the in-camera preparatory meeting that takes place in the two hours prior to the start of the public meeting, and the two hours afterwards. Not to mention, Ms. Gonzalez will be gifted with a thick binder of background information on all the issues to come before the Board, information (taking hours to read and digest) she will be expected to know.

  • Committee work. There are five standing committees — Management Co-ordinating, Planning and Facilities, Education and Student Services, Personnel and Staff Services, Finance and Legal — one of which she'll likely Chair, and another committee on which she'll be expected to sit, those committees comprised of Board administrative staff, members of the Parent Advisory and District Students' Councils, the two teachers' associations, the professional administrative staff association, CUPE union locals 15 and 407 and representatives of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 963, and both the Vancouver Elementary Principals' and Vice Principals' Associations and the Vancouver Association of Secondary School Administrators. As you might well imagine, these meetings take awhile, tend to be contentious (with a great many competing agendas), and require of the Board trustees a vast knowledge of the issues. There are those strange folks who love meetings (of which VanRamblings is one, as long as those meetings are run respectfully and democratically, and each participant is provided an open and welcoming opportunity for input). Ms. Gonzalez is in for quite an education over the next year.

  • Liaison. With 55,500 students enrolled in kindergarten to Grade 12, and over 3,000 adult students in adult education centres, with 18 secondary schools and 91 elementary schools in the Vancouver School District, each trustee is assigned as a liaison to at least ten elementary schools and two secondary schools, where they're expected to participate as the Board liaison to the Parent Advisory Committees, not to mention which attendance at the occasional teacher meeting is always a good idea. On top of that, trustees are the liaison between not only the teachers but the administrators at the schools to the Board — which means that trustees must develop an abiding relationship of respect and advocacy for student, parent, teacher and administrator concerns.

    And let us not forget, either, that the Board assigns a liaison to the Vancouver Library Board, and any number of the citizen advisory committees at Vancouver City Hall. Tired yet?

Make no mistake, sitting as a Board of Education trustee on the Vancouver School Board is nothing less than a full-time job.

A meeting of the Vancouver School Board, with trustees and administrative staff around the table

For all those citizens in the community who whine about our elected officials, believe us when we say: there is no higher calling than elected office, and no matter the party or political affiliation, all dedicated elected officials (VanRamblings knows not one who doesn't throw themselves into the work, whether at Park Board, School Board, City Council, provincially or federally) give their lives over to public service, and the public interest.

In terms of time commitment, making matters even worse for Ms. Gonzalez and her fellow elected trustees: from the moment each trustee takes their seat around the Board table, they're going to be in election mode. With the 2018 Vancouver municipal election set for next October 20th, all of the trustees will find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time on the hustings, attending party functions, raising money, working closely with school trustees in other Metro Vancouver school districts (and around the province) — so as to further raise their public profile — writing opinion pieces for The Straight, the Vancouver Sun and other mainstream media, and making regular appearances on our local radio and TV stations, speaking to educational (and other) issues at the Vancouver School Board.

The next Board year will prove to be an exemplary model of vox populi.

(Click on Read More for much more School Board by-election coverage)

VanRamblings cannot begin to tell you how much we wanted to see the more-than-qualified, humane, fiscally responsible and savvy, community activist, mother to a young son who will be entering the Vancouver school system in the not-too-distant future, small business owner, a respected consensus-builder who believes in a collaborative approach to public education, a member of the Board of Directors of the British Columbia Co-operative Association, recent community consultant to the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation, the Vancouver Street Soccer League, and Family Services of Greater Vancouver, broadcast journalist, member of the Board of Vancity Credit Union, and progressive, Theodora Lamb, elected to office.

VanRamblings believes that Vancouver requires an activist Vancouver School Board, comprised of staunch advocates for public education, Board of Education trustees who will always fight for a better deal for students, who see their work as a sacred trust, who believe to the core of their being in vox populi, who don't and will not "play politics" ever and certainly not at the expense of the interests of students enrolled in the Vancouver school system, or the parents who advocate for the interests of their children, who see their job as one of advocacy, and dedicated public service.

Vision Vancouver's School Board candidate team were and are the band of hardy advocates (along with OneCity Vancouver's Carrie Bercic) committed to our too-long-beleaguered public education system. But, alas, Theodora Lamb and Mike Lombardi were not elected to our new Vancouver School Board. Sad to say, Vancouver students and their parents will pay the price.

Mike Lombardi, outgoing Chair of the Vancouver School Board

VanRamblings has known Mike Lombardi since our days in the late 1970s working on educational issues in the Vancouver Coalition of Progressive Electors civic party, and later as colleagues at the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. We have always known Mike to be reasonable, gregarious, humane, generous of his time and his spirit, a great father, a person dedicated to British Columbia's public education system — for his children and all children enrolled in the British Columbia's public education system — and one of the finest men and public servants it has been our privilege to know and to work with.

Yet Mike Lombardi (pictured above) was not re-elected to a third term of office on the Vancouver School Board.

  • Was it not Mike Lombardi who fought to keep the 11 neighbourhood schools School Board administrative staff wanted to see shuttered (a recommendation the NPA was only too willing to accede to) open?

  • Was it not Mike Lombardi who negotiated an arrangement with the Mayor of our City and the City Councillors to fund breakfast and lunch programmes for the most vulnerable of our students enrolled in the Vancouver school system, when a penny-pinching, heartless Christy Clark administration eliminated funding for the food programmes?

  • Was it not Mike Lombardi, as Chair of the Vancouver School Board, who called for and ensured that there would be public meetings at secondary schools across the city to hear the voices of parents and students, allowing them the needed and much-desired opportunity for input into the drafting of a budget for the 2016-2017 school year?

  • Was it not Mike Lombardi who spent innumerable hours working on the business of the Vancouver School Board, who never played politics at the Vancouver School Board table, who worked with his colleagues — whatever their political affiliation — to ensure that all students enrolled in the Vancouver school system might be given the best opportunity for educational success? And always with a hearty laugh & a firm handshake.

  • Was it not Mike Lombardi who was a dedicated public servant, an elected official who actually listened to the voice of the people, and — despite what the wrong-headed, biased and too-political-for-words WorkSafe BC and Goldner reports had to say — worked respectfully with all administrative and other staff persons working within the Vancouver School Board? For it wasn't Mike Lombardi who called then Superintendent Scott Robinson on the phone to scream at him, and dress him down — no that, according to VanRamblings' sources, would be re-elected NPA trustee Fraser Ballantyne.

  • And what of these three issues: was it not Mike Lombardi who fought to ensure that aboriginal children enrolled in the Vancouver school system were afforded equal access to opportunity, who fought to ensure that the recently named Xpey' Elementary School (the former Sir William Macdonald) would better serve the educational, social and community interests of its aboriginal student population, fighting as well to ensure that the school would not close due to what the previous provincial goverment called "greviously low student enrolment", all the while fighting to keep open a DTES programme for immigrant, non-English speaking parents of children enrolled at Strathcona and Admiral Seymour elementary schools, and lobbied the provincial government to continue funding for the government-funded Adult Basic Education programme?

The NPA ran a duplicitous, incredibly damaging, despicable and lying — yet ultimately successful — take down campaign of immense proportion against Vision Vancouver School Board Chair Mike Lombardi, one of the finest elected officials ever to serve the public interest, in the entirety of the history of civic political engagement in our city. All of us owe Mike Lombardi a debt of gratitude for his unequalled and dedicated public service.

Vision Vancouver 2017 by-election team of School Board candidates

VanRamblings realizes that the recent Vancouver by-election vote was largely an anti-Vision Vancouver vote, which proved particularly damaging to the School Board aspirants, arising from a too large (and we would suggest, witless) segment of the population only too willing to demonize Vision Vancouver as — to read recent social media commentary refer to the governing party as, "vile, disgusting, obnoxious and corrupt, with one comment reading, "it boggles the mind how many dumb sheep in this city are ok with moonbeam's madness. I don't get it! Can't they use their brains?!!!", who utterly fail to recognize any contribution whatsoever that Vancouver's civic governing party has made to the livability of our city.

The Vision Vancouver school board candidate team were tarred with the decisions of their civic party in the Council chambers, when the school board has no say whatsoever on development in the city — Vancouver City Council, a municipal entity, and the Vancouver School Board, a provincially-mandated elected body, have absolutely nothing to do with one another other than the name under which candidates run, and raise funds.

Ken Clement, Joy Alexander, Allan Wong are the Vision Vancouver School Board trusteesKen Clement, Joy Alexander and Allan Wong, Vision Vancouver School Board trustees)

In yet another ABC-election — just look at the candidates who won: Alexander, Ballantyne, Bercic, Clement, Dominato, Fraser, Gonzalez — thank goodness that Vancouver voters had the wit to elect the three dedicated Vision Vancouver Board of Education trustees pictured above.

VanRamblings rarely writes about Vancouver School Board trustee Allan Wong without putting the words entirely tremendous before his name.

Allan was first elected to the Board in 1999, which means that at the end of his current term of office, the affable, bright, dedicated, hard-working, possesses an intimate understanding of all of the issues that come before the Board, has always sought to act / acted as the voice of the community at the Board table, most recently was Chair of the Planning and Facilities Committee that initiated Vancouver's seismic school upgrades / school replacement programme, advocated for the interests of ESL and special needs students — not to mention which worked toward ensuring improved aboriginal student graduation rates — enrolled in the Vancouver school system, the entirely tremendous Allan Wong will have served 19 years.

VanRamblings is beyond overjoyed that Allan Wong was re-elected to the Vancouver School Board as a Board of Education trustee, where he might continue his indispensable advocacy work for students enrolled in Vancouver's school system, who we know is dedicated to working closely and co-operatively not just with his Vision Vancouver colleagues — Dr. Joy Alexander (about whom we've written earlier) and Ken Clement, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), a member of the Ktunaxa First Nations who has worked tirelessly to ensure that every student, irrespective of where they live in the city, the socio-economic status of their parents / caregivers, or cultural or ethnic background and most particularly, but not exclusively, the success of the aboriginal student population enrolled in the Vancouver school system — working with all of his colleagues around the Board of Education table.

Carrie Bercic, OneCity Vancouver Board of Education trustee

VanRamblings was going to write that Carrie Bercic (pictured above) is the Vancouver Board of Education's newly-elected Patti Bacchus (who we both love!), but sad to say we have been forbidden from writing such. Oh well.

Still, VanRamblings predicts that, over the course of the next year, Carrie Bercic will emerge as the 'go to' person the media will want to interview on any and all issues that come before the Board because ...

Carrie Bercic was the must vote in the recent VSB by-election, who attended every meeting of the Vancouver School Board dating back to 2014, who worked with her OneCity colleague Erica Jaaf on the Parent Advocacy Network (PAN) Board, sat as a Parent Advisory Chair at both General Wolfe elementary school where her daughter was enrolled, and Parent Advisory Chair at Eric Hamber, where her son Jordan was enrolled, is now and has always a been a down-to-earth, informed, co-operator who believes in collaboration with the community in developing School Board policy, and who emerged as perhaps the most articulate and ardent defender of and advocate for public education in the recent by-election.

Carrie Bercic is heart-filled, tough and tough-minded, a longtime community activist, is one of the most humane, kind, generous persons of VanRamblings acquaintance, is loved by everyone who has ever had the privilege of meeting or working with her, who just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary to her husband, John, remains a public education activist extraordinaire, and who emerged on October 14th as the first elected public official for Vancouver's nascent OneCity Vancouver civic party, and who will become your voice around the School Board table.

Carrie Bercic will working collaboratively with her fellow Board of Education trustees to ensure that the Vancouver School Board integrates community input and representation in decisions taken by the Board, ensuring that the voices of LGBTQ2S folks, cultural communities, urban Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities, women, people living in poverty, and other marginalized communities are heard loud and clear, while working to end social, political, and economic injustice, ensuring as well that when new School Board initiatives are in their nascent planning phase the communities most affected by decisions taken at the Board table will be heard, seeing to it that parents and students and the community-at-large will possess the power to impact on how those decisions are made, and finally implemented.

Carrie Bercic's clarion campaign message of inclusivity, public education advocacy, reconciliation with our First Nations peoples (and all our students enrolled in the Vancouver school system), to ensure the academic and social success of our indigenous students — and all students — and her commitment to ensuring the safety and preservation of our neighbourhood schools was also heard loud and clear throughout the by-election campaign, and in consequence, on Saturday, October 14th a surfeit of citizens cast their ballot for their advocate at the School Board table — Carrie Bercic.

VanRamblings also predicts that Carrie Bercic will emerge as the top vote-getter in the October 20th 2018 general municipal election, that over the course of the next year Ms. Bercic will become much-loved by Vancouver citizenry, that love and devotion to the values Ms. Bercic espouses resulting in 75,000+ votes at the polls in mid-autumn of next year.

Lisa Dominato, newly-elected Vancouver School Board trustee

One of VanRamblings' biggest regrets during the recent Vancouver School Board by-election campaign was not getting to know the erudite, approachable, very bright, accomplished, 'will make a great addition to the Board', and winning Lisa Dominato (pictured above) better, who ran as a candidate for the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA), with fellow elected trustee Fraser Ballantyne, and Rob McDowell (someone we believed deserved your vote), former School Board Chair Christopher Richardson (both of the latter about whom we'll write below), and newcomer / big Jason Kenney supporter, Julian Prieto.

To say that we were impressed with Ms. Dominato when we were introduced to her at the NPA nominating convention, and were equally impressed with her command of the issues — not to mention, her humanity and forthrightness — at the two School Board all-candidates meetings would be to understate the matter. VanRamblings believes that Ms. Dominato finds herself on the progressive wing of the NPA, and will likely emerge as an NPA-elected very much in the mould of recent NPA Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung (about whom VanRamblings believes the sun rises and and sets). We understand Fraser Ballantyne will nominate Ms. Dominato as Board Chair at next Monday's inaugural meeting of the Board — we hope she refuses the entreaty of her colleague and casts a ballot for either Joy Alexander (who Allan Wong will nominate) or Janet Fraser.

We look forward to getting to know Lisa Dominato well in the next year.

Diana Day, Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate for the Vancouver School Board

VanRamblings knows, worked with, has written glowingly about, supports & supported Diana Day for School Board trustee in the recent by-election.

Diana had broad support among the electorate who turned out at the polls, coming within 900 votes of being elected to the Vancouver School Board.

Unfortunately, in the latter two weeks of the by-election, there was a whisper campaign among the political cognoscenti that Diana Day was a one issue candidate (aboriginal education), an impression that was only reinforced by an October 4th Vancouver Courier article where Ms. Day failed to mention a third "concern she would champion" at the School Board table should she be elected, making reference to only ...

    1. Recruitment of teachers and administrators, specifically those of Indigenous descent, and

    2. Implementing a curriculum rooted in Indigenous reconciliation

with nary a mention of the issues of concern expressed by her fellow candidates: seismic upgrading and / or building new schools, re-establishings programmes that have been cut (e.g. elementary school band and strings, ESL immigrant parent outreach, establishing a positive relationship with the Ministry of Education), among other issues.

The so-called whisper campaign to which Ms. Day was subjected suggested that she might prove difficult to work with, and that the possibility existed that she would emerge as a trustee solely focused on issues related to aboriginal education, to the detriment of a Board discussion on a broad range of issues brought before the Board for thoughtful adjudication. A 900-vote deficit indicates that Ms. Day was darn close to taking a seat at the School Board table — perhaps next time, the winning, socially conscious, hard-working and sophisticated Diana Day will expand her focus to, at points, include all students enrolled in the Vancouver school system.

Christopher Richardson and Rob McDowell, NPA candidates for the Vancouver School BoardChristopher Richardson (l) and Rob McDowell, candidates for Vancouver School Board

VanRamblings signed Christopher Richardson's nomination papers at the NPA nominating convention, and would gladly have done so for Rob McDowell — we love both gentlemen, believe both Christopher and Rob would have made fine Vancouver School Board trustees, and can't believe that Christopher was not re-elected, and that Rob did not ascend to the Board, where it would quickly become clear that Robert McDowell is, perhaps (had he been elected) the finest political figure to grace the Vancouver political scene, and the School Board, in a generation.

For voters going to the polls in the 2017 by-election to elect a new School Board, there was an embarrassment of riches from which to choose.

Alas, Rob's and Christopher's election to School Board was not to be.

Why, given that Rob McDowell came within 443 votes of being elected, and former Board Chair (and the VSB's hardest working Board of Education trustee) Christopher Richardson — perhaps our favourite person on the planet — found himself 774 votes shy of a deserved second term on the Vancouver School Board? Well, at least in part, although we had interviewed Christopher at length during the campaign, and had a lengthy conversation with Rob in the days leading up to voting day, VanRamblings did not find our way clear to endorsing either gentleman, which grievous decision on our part and a failure to publish an in-depth interview with both gentlemen on VanRamblings may very well have cost them a seat at the Vancouver School Board table.

That either one of them is still talking to VanRamblings (and they are, but God knows why?) well, perhaps it is because both Rob and Christopher are the best people we know, and it is entirely consistent that neither would hold a grudge, although each would be well within their rights to do so.

VanRamblings will publish often on both Rob and Christopher over the next year, to give you an opportunity to get to know the both of them better. Yes, yes, we know — too little, too late. Still, there's always next time.

Adi Pick and her beloved, Nico, visiting Venice, while she considers a run for School BoardAdi Pick and her beloved Nico, in Venice (did she run for School Board? Yes, yes, yes!)

Perhaps VanRamblings' greatest joy during the recent by-election campaign was the knowledge we gained that Adi Pick actually exists on this Earth, such knowledge filling us with much hope for the future that a person possessed of a sometimes biting wit (well placed, and humour-filled, but biting nonetheless), unending humanity, grace, compassion, the ambition and well-developed skill set and political and emotional intelligence to make a difference, who embraces the world around her and all those in it, whose curiosity to know more and to do better, to transform our world into a fairer and more just place for all ... is so close, so well within her grasp to be that transformative cultural political figure who will make your life, VanRamblings' life, the lives of our children and grandchildren and all those in our city, and far far beyond better, kinder and warmer of collective spirit.

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2017 Vancouver Civic By-Election VanRamblings Wrap-Up

Part 1 of VanRamblings' by-election wrap-up is available here.

Part 2 of VanRamblings' by-election wrap-up is available here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 26, 2017 10:44 PM in 2017 By-Election


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