Well here we are. About eight months since I registered to hold my position on the SCDSB. This past week, I hardly slept at all. I was waiting for someone to come along, register to run against me, and launch a battle to represent Adjala-Tos, Essa, and Borden. As each day passed, I got less sleep. I bet I slept for about 3 hours last night. I’m beat!
And 2:00 PM today came. I checked the townships’ websites. Nada. I called the Clerk’s office. Nope. No takers. Well – if you like me – its all good news. And if you don’t – well – it is what it is. People had almost nine months to register.
Given that the entire south Simcoe area is seeing more election activity than I’ve seen in at least a decade, how do I explain this? I’m hoping that it’s because folks in Essa, Adjala-Tos, and Borden feel I’ve done a decent job. I think I’ve done pretty good. Tens of millions of dollars have flowed into capital projects there, scores (which will be released next week) will make the news (I’m not allowed to say just yet), and we as a board have managed to protect what we could in an era of decreasing enrollment, and decreasing funding. I’ve been on Twitter, Facebook, and blogged and updated my website. I hope this had something to do with it as well. I spent a great deal of time on these, and look forward to tweeting and blogging, and so on into the future.
I’m also a realist. I know that the race for Trustee does not generate near the press that a race for Councillor, Deputy Mayor, or Mayor does. It’s strange really. The larger municipality that I represent has a budget of about $22 million I think. They have 5 on council. The school board manages a budget of over half a billion dollars. We employ almost five THOUSAND people, and we serve the educational needs of 50,000 students in over 100 facilities. And nobody wants to talk about the race for Trustee. Nobody cares, until something really makes them care. School closures. Loss of a program. WiFi. Moral Education, etc. Then, they care. Pay attention to what’s going on in your local school, and school board. It affects your kids. It affects you. It affects your community.
Seeing as I won’t be stumping for myself this time around, I’d like to offer some advice to the voters out there. Ask questions of your candidates. Ask them tough questions. Ask them about how they’ve voted on various issues in the past. Tell them what’s really important to you – long and short term.
If you are in an area outside of AT and Essa, and are voting for Trustee, might I suggest a few questions to ask.
- How familiar are you with how the board actually operates (Decisions moving from committee to board, what are the duties and rights of a trustee, what’s closed session and what’s public session, and so on).
- How familiar are you with how the larger system operates? (Hiring of teachers, duties of a principal, class size calculations, bargaining groups, etc.)
- What real leadership positions have you had in various areas? Describe your leadership style.
- If you’re an incumbent trustee, do you vote only for the short term, or do you see the big picture. Can you make required but perhaps unpopular decisions?
- How do you get along with people? Do you have an ego, or can you work as part of a team? Can you persuade people to vote with you based on information and vision, or do you try to plow through issues like a bull in a china shop?
- Can you take up one issue at a time, and then move onto the next without holding a grudge? Will your emotions cloud you judgement?
- Do you have a passion for public education, or are you just there as a stepping stone to something seen as ‘higher’?
- Do you have a vision for the future, or do you just tell people what they want to hear?
And when you ask any of these questions, get specific. Get examples. Most of these questions can be applied Councillors, Deputy Mayors, Mayors, MPs, MPPs, etc.
Ask the questions.
The answers are your future.