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Telling Tales Out of School

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Anyone running for school board? Anyone? Hello?

Posted: 05/5/2014 3:07 PM | Comments: 0

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I see Gord Steeves and Brian Bowman are running for mayor of Winnipeg, which means we now have more announced candidates for mayor in the city than we have announced candidates for the eight school boards within city limits.

Which, like, you know, just isn’t right.

Gerritt Theule and Lisa Naylor have told me they’ll be running in Winnipeg School Division. And Mark Sefton is looking for four more years in Brandon.

And that’s it, so far, for the most important elected office in Manitoba.

Sorry, a wave of arrogance passed over me — maybe some candidates have announced without telling me. Is that even possible?

Last time around, the majority of the 311 school trustee positions in Manitoba were acclaimed or weren’t even contested — they had to be filled later by appointment. It would be nice to have real races everywhere this time, just to let the province know that school trustee is still a viable office.

WSD this time has nine wards of one seat each, rather than three gi-normous 43,000-voter wards of three seats apiece. The change was supposed to open up the races to a more diverse field of candidates lacking deep pockets or party connections to provide hordes of campaign workers. No sign of that happening yet.

I have no idea yet how we’ll cover school board elections. At my age, looking as far ahead as late October...

One thing I can pretty much guarantee is we won’t be contacting 100 or more city trustee candidates individually and personally, whether by phone or snail mail, and inviting them to be interviewed. That’s what several miffed candidates demanded in 2010 after they realized post-election that most of our coverage was online.

Reminding you once again that I’m a senior citizen, and if I can do this Jetsons stuff you can too, listen up people: if you’re running for office, you should be on Twitter, you should be on Facebook, you should have a website full of information and which allows voters to interact with you, you should be on Instagram and on MySpace if it still even exists, and you should be on whatever gets invented between now and late October. You should be reading this newspaper in every form we offer, and following other major media, and following the school board you’re contesting — they’re all online. 

Synchronize your watches — let's see how long it takes Sandy Nemeth to RT this. And if you don't understand any of that, do more homework before picking up your nomination papers.

If you’re going to run, you should already be out there meeting people, chatting up your neighbours, getting your name out to the parent councils. You should be telling me that you’re running, and you should be telling me why people should vote for you.

As we move along and school board election excitement overwhelms the populace, I’ll be getting into more specifics. I know you don’t like being asked why you’re running for public school board if you put your own kids in private school. I remember the candidate in St. Vital who didn’t like being asked why he didn’t want anyone to know what he looked like. You can run in a ward in which you don’t live, sure, but I and the voters have every right to ask why. And I won’t let you get away with saying you believe in a quality education and fiscal responsibility without explaining what those cliches mean.

Meanwhile, let’s hear from you, eh?

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