I delayed this one for a bit due to a challenge selecting a fifth endorsement. However, I sat there in my Advanced Voting booth today and I just decided that I would leave that fifth option open for discussion.
For the 2021 school board by-election, I was much more involved. I hosted the only all candidates “meeting” (via Zoom) and also sent out my 10 Questions for each candidate. This time around I was much more active with the Council race, so I relied a bit heavier on other well meaning and knowledgable people who were invested in this race. That said, I still poured over all the responses to the Question for Better Schools and did my best to speak to the candidates who I didn’t know so well.
In order of ballot selection:
Gareth Lockhart had mentioned his possible intention to run for school board trustee even before the 2021 by-election. While it was apparent that it was a role that he was very passionate about, I got the sense that he wasn’t going to run against Charlie Fox and Joel Neufeld for a single spot. So it wasn’t a surprise to me when he mentioned that he felt like he was going for it this time around.
Gareth and I don’t see eye to eye on many things. I deeply appreciate his knowledge and advocacy for the firefighters union and fire safety in general. I may have once referred to him as the most philosophical firefighter that I know.
He admits that he doesn’t know all the ins and outs of school politics, but he’s already appeared to be a quick study and he’s got something a lot of candidates are missing: a strong willingness to listen. I don’t mean that in a cliche way – but rather in a way that he will actually stop talking and pretending like an all knowing politician who is going to tell you what he thinks you want to hear and just listen to what your needs are.
Gareth didn’t re-invent himself for this election. He went to work on the research and came armed with wisdom, not scripts. What you’ve seen in his campaign is who he is. I respect that.
Suzanne Perreault is a warrior for kids, for inclusivity, for understanding, and compassion. I might go so far to say she is the heart of the board. One parent told me she is “the most tireless, selfless advocates for children and families.” Many people who know Suzanne will say something similar.
While it is readily apparent to many parents with children who have special needs that Suzanne is one of their champions, I have personally found her to be an important advocate for mental health in schools and parent/teacher relations. Coupled with her knowledge of the district, Suzanne is an obvious choice for trustee again in 2022.
Stacey Wakelin was on the ballot for the tough 2021 by-election and I’ve gotten to know Stacey over the years. It was actually in her 2018 council run that I regretted not endorsing her. She had some technical problems and couldn’t get her answers to my questionnaire in time. Although I had already made my endorsements, she sent them in anyway later and I was extremely impressed.
I am extremely glad that Stacey stepped up again here in 2022, as another incredible advocate for kids, especially those who are under-served. I can see her as one that would seek out those who might get lost in the system. One of her responses to my questionnaire was one that I connected most to:
It is such a shame that we need to even keep asking these questions and one day I hope we will all operate under the assumption that diversity and inclusion are threads that must be woven throughout everything we do in the district.Stacey Wakelin, trustee candidate
Marnie Wilson is probably the candidate I know the least personally, but one that continues to have the unwavering support of pretty much everyone I trust. I see her knowledge and commitment at the board table. An ongoing thread that many parents is that even when they disagree with Marnie, it comes out of research and a genuine effort to make the right decision with the big picture in mind.
It was also important to me that it wasn’t just parents that support the candidates, but also fellow peers, staff, and those working in the district. Marnie consistently is noted to being someone that works tirelessly and with empathy and foresight.
Personally, I find that Marnie could be one of the biggest allies on the board for getting more school spaces within the current model. I also think that she could be a strong mentor for new trustees that are hopefully elected this term.
*Notes for 5th Endorsement
I struggled with a 5th vote – whether to vote for one of two people or neither. I won’t say who I did or did at all, but I want to give a highly reserved honourable mention to both Charlie Fox and Holly Dickinson. For those who are highly engaged with Langley’s politics, you might think this is a contradictory comment and maybe even insane.
I’ve made a commitment to try to stay as positive as possible in my endorsements, so I’m not going to have a lengthy preamble of my thoughts of Charlie Fox on Langley council (other than to say that he is largely responsible for my involvement in Langley politics) or early missteps (my opinion) on the board. I will say that the board either needs Charlie or needs someone like Charlie. He has incredible experience in the district, an astute understanding of the mechanism of the school system, its budgetary processes, its people and I’m told he has a heart for kids, proven by his countless years as teacher, principle, and volunteer. He has, according to several of his colleagues, been conciliatory, humble, and easy to work with on the board. I don’t know where this person was on Council. So let’s just say that I have very mixed feelings about Charlie Fox as a candidate.
Secondly, there is Holly Dickinson, who I highly considered endorsing in 2021. I don’t know her well, but Holly appears to have a strong compassion, advocacy for kids and involvement with schools. However, I did not find her answers to my questionnaire quite strong enough to overcome the influence of the electoral organization she is associated with. As a parent with four children in the Langley school system, I would find it worrisome that Eric Woodward’s Contract with Langley electoral organization would have any influence in the school system. While I have tried separating individuals from their organization overall, this may not be possible in some circumstances.
Those are my statements about the the two candidates that I considered for my own fifth vote. However, keep in mind that you do NOT need to vote for all five – you can vote for one or four as well… any number up to five. If you strongly want just one candidate in and don’t care about the rest, just vote for the one! No one will judge, promise.
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