They ran, they lost, will they be back?


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I first met Sherri Rollins 12 years ago when she came to my door as a Winnipeg SD school board candidate.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2014 (3078 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I first met Sherri Rollins 12 years ago when she came to my door as a Winnipeg SD school board candidate.

As I recall, she was somewhat surprised to encounter a voter who followed the school division’s issues so closely.

We were remembering that Wednesday night, when I had to call Rollins really late at night, to avoid having the shame in Thursday morning’s paper of having declared Dewey the president-elect.

And, if I ever get to the point, I’ll smoothly segue into writing about how rare it seems to be that unsuccessful school board candidates run a second time.

Rollins was elected in the far south end Ward 1 seat in WSD Wednesday night. She told me Wednesday night that when she’d run before, it was pretty much at the last minute and without a lot of organization, as a reaction to Betty Granger.

Moving on, to why I’d called her.

I’d tweeted and put a story on our website Wednesday evening that all the Aboriginal school board candidates around the city had lost. Whereupon, a reader named Esther hit the ‘report an error’ button on our website and said that Sherri Rollins is Aboriginal.

Which made my tweets and webbie problematic, not to mention my story for the dead trees edition yet unpublished.

I went back through Rollins’s website and the biography she’d supplied to the city elections website, and found nary a syllable mentioning that. Back to Esther I went, and she pointed me to a lengthy on-line questionnaire to which Rollins had responded, and way down, one short line, Rollins mentioned that she is Aboriginal.

Which is why I called Rollins late Wednesday night. Rollins told me that she’d discussed her heritage at the door, and I would have been aware had I joined Linked-In and read her profile — note to myself for next election, do not rely solely on candidates’ websites and autobiographies for all pertinent positive information — and that she’d been hoping to work alongside fellow Aboriginal candidate Kevin Settee, who lost a close race to Kevin Freedman in Ward 5.

Freedman was one of the handful of previous unsuccessful candidates who’ve tried again.

See how effortlessly I segued?

The twitterverse has been full of congrats for first-time losing young candidates, with Louis Riel trustee Chris Sigurdson pointing out to them that he lost three times before winning his first election.

I went back to the 2010 school board elections, and besides Freedman, found only four unsuccessful candidates who tried again this time, Chris Wilson, Robert Page, Roland Headley, and Dennis Ruggles. None made it.

I think Rockford McKay was the only defeated incumbent in 2010 who tried a comeback this time, and he fell short.

So back I went to three recent by-elections, the ones that saw Colleen Mayer, Mark Wasyliw, and Rita Hildahl win seats. Hildahl had been a trustee before, but had retired.

That’s a whole separate category of people who left of their own accord and later returned, including Rod Giesbrecht, Scott Johnston, and Brian Olynik. But back to the main thread.

Those three by-elections brought out large fields, and those runners-up all built up some degree of profile. Only one of them ran in a subsequent general election, perennial candidate Shane Nestruck who ran against Jenny Gerbasi for council this week.

Also among candidates contesting those by-elections were Colleen McFadden, Ben Shedden, Jeremiah Kopp, Edna Sears, Gary Brownstone, Colin Fast, Barbara Coombs, and a bunch of others who were all one-and-out.

There was a guy who ran in a WSD by-election and got hammered, 3.83 per cent of the vote, named Carlos James, who impressed me enormously: incredibly bright Aboriginal candidate from single-parent home, articulate, analytical thinking about education issues, knew more about computers than most of Silicon Valley. I stumbled across him one time while tracking what had happened to a deposed private school principal here, and he followed her to an elite private school in Toronto.

The 2010 school board elections, one of the most impressive candidates I recall was a guy named Gurpreet Brar, but no trace of him this election.

I’ve yet to find an academic who’s done any research on school board elections, but I’d like to hear from candidates. If you’re running again in 2018, why, what have you learned, what would you do differently? If you’ll never run again, why?

From what I’m seeing on Twitter — and since it’s on the internet, it must be true — that Carlene Rummery, Lisa Webinger, Tanjit Nagra, Candace Maxymowich could be on ballots in 2018.

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