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Is it OK for candidates to do this?

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Is it OK to use your employer’s email as your contact for an election campaign?

I’m watching school board candidates starting to trickle in to the city hall website with their nomination papers, some of the candidates providing an email contact address and a few who even have websites.

So far by mid-afternoon, I’ve spotted two incumbent trustees in the city who are using their divisional email as their contact address. Then there’s a new candidate using his business address at U of M, and a third incumbent in a city division, who’s using the business email of the rural school division in which he’s employed in his fulltime job.

Is this OK?

Because, I’m thinking, if you’re an incumbent, it’s maybe inappropriate to use anything provided by the taxpayers for political purposes, be it email or phones or an office or stationery or the copier at the division office. And I’m thinking that your employer may not think it’s cool to use your business email as the contact for your political aspirations. I’m thinking candidates should be setting up a personal Hotmail or Gmail account, but that’s just me.

Louis Riel School Division says it doesn’t have a policy on trustee use of divisional email. Waiting to hear from the others.

And, I’m wondering, what do other candidates think who aren’t doing this? Is it fair?

Meanwhile, as I go through the candidates, one interesting name caught my eye, newcomer Rolf Salfert in Ward 2 of Winnipeg School Division.

Salfert retired this summer as a WSD teacher. I’d probably been in his Grade 6 classroom at Principal Sparling School annually for the past seven or eight years.

I’ve blogged before about the fun I had in his classroom doing stories on his Canadian heritage projects.

Salfert is the guy whose classroom was lined with pictures of important Canadians, some prominent, some overlooked, some forgotten. Each day he’d add a picture, quizzing the kids and challenging them to identify the day’s person by tossing out tantalizing clues.

Anyway, an interesting name. No, I’m not endorsing him, I have no idea what kind of a trustee Salfert would make — as Sir Thomas More said in A Man for All Seasons, and I quote or misquote from Grade 13 memory, "I do not recommend him. I point him out."

Out in the King Edward — Deer Lodge ward of St. James-Assiniboia, one-time board chair Scott Johnston is back after a retirement last time.

Running in WSD’s Ward 3 is St. John’s High School grad Darlyne Bautista, whose website contains the usual cliches about working with the community and ensuring a quality education as her campaign promises, but also cites a pretty impressive resume, including:

"a founding member of Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) Inc., a youth based organization that provides meaningful mentorship, educational resources, and scholarships to immigrant families and youth";

the Vice-President of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba;

coordinator of two accredited Philippine Studies courses at the University of Winnipeg, the first ever in Canada;

curator of the From Manila to Manitoba Oral History Project and Exhibit at the Manitoba Museum, the first Filipino-Canadian historical exhibit in Manitoba."

Gurpreet Brar is running in Ward 2 of River East Transcona School Division, and while his platform is again largely cliches with few specifics about how he’d handle issues, he’s got quite the background too — a national merit scholar, who studied and worked overseas and came home to stay.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s blog in which I lamented the lack of first-day nominations of school board trustees drew a sharp rebuke from city council candidate Livio Ciaralli:

"I am really surprised by your article. You are waiting ????

"I don’t understand what you are waiting for. I released 3 press releases to your newsline. I mean, you need a special invitation ? Come on. If you are really interested in increasing readership, voter turnout and perhaps finding out what 40 to 50 candidates have to say, you’d look into it.

"Oh by the way, I’m on a bike, and will be in minus 30 trying to save taxpayers some money. And no, I don’t have a beard and collect junk imn my backyard. Did I tell you I was going to set myself on Fire for some attention ?

"Maybe this election stuff isn’t as serious as I thought. I should get some sleep, these 20 hour days are a little tough," wrote Ciaralli.

OK, now you’ve got your name in the cyber-paper.....but just to clarify, you’re running for city council, I’m writing about school board candidates.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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