Dakota Kochie is less than a year removed from fighting to win games on the football field for Murdoch MacKay Collegiate Institute.
These days, he’s fighting to win votes to represent Ward 1 as a River East Transcona School Division trustee.
The 18-year-old said he’s long held an interest in politics and taking a run at a trustee seat is "a good place to start", especially as he starts classes at the University of Winnipeg this fall.
"It’s something that doesn’t take up all my time, and then I’m still involved with an actual elected position (should I win)," explained Kochie, who is also transitioning to coaching with the Clansmen football team this season. "I just recently got through the Manitoba high school (system) and the public education, so I can bring something fresh to the table.
"I’m not here looking to collect compensation. I’ve had people say ‘Oh, you’re just looking for a part-time job,’ but no. I’m sincerely looking to do the best I can for our school division and our school board."
Kochie said he has run into a fair number of people on the campaign trail who have been wary because of his age, but he stressed his experience coaching sports at various levels for the past four years, his presidency of the University of Winnipeg’s Young Liberals of Canada branch, as well as his research through talking with teachers and former trustees.
He said one revamp he’d like to see is changing the way professional development days for teachers are approached, as Kochie said several teachers he’s talked to have been underwhelmed by offerings in recent years. As well, as a former high school athlete, he heralded the benefits of physical activity by proposing to reduce barriers to students by encouraging increased participation.
"The benefits of physical activity when you’re in school are just huge," he said. "I know for myself, I know how to be a team player, I know how to take responsibility — just all those little intangibles that can build you into the best person you can be."
Kochie also declared his support for gay-straight alliances and safe-sex education in schools.
Kochie underlined the importance of education and outlined how he feels all members of society benefit from a better-educated population. Tax-wise, he said he’d look into a reduced rate for seniors, as well as a different assessment plan to, at the very least, spread out the burden for local residents by collecting the taxes at a little later time — six months, perhaps — than other taxes.
"I’d like to see the school taxes taken off of property taxes," he said. "For some families, that’s a lot of tax to deal with at one time. There is a monthly payment program, but that’s still a lot of money for some families to take on at one time.
"Education is not a civic tax. It is a provincial tax, and it should be assessed that way."
Those looking for more information can contact Kochie at firstname.lastname@example.org