30 candidates in the running for Greater Victoria School District

30 candidates in the running for Greater Victoria School District
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There are 30 people who have put their names forward to be elected to the Greater Victoria School District.

In the district, there are nine trustee seats up for grabs, with five incumbents seeking re-election.

In 2018, 67,273 votes were cast in the Greater Victoria School District election where 12 candidates ran.

In this race, there is also a slate called VIVA Victoria that has six candidates for the school district. This slate has been criticized initially by James Coccola, vice-president for the BC General Employees’ Union, for being a far-right group with ties to the People’s Party of Canada. He says a number of the candidates also hold views that SOGI 1-2-3 should be repealed. As reported by Capital Daily, the party has ties to the PPC and the convoys that were calling for the removal of COVID mandates.

SOGI is the provincially-mandated program where school districts have to have policies to make schools inclusive spaces for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Salvetina Agba

Agba is the parent of a child about to enter kindergarten in the district and works as a psychiatric nurse.

She is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected, she says she would like push for parents to be empowered to be in charge of their child’s education where their children are being taught in ways that align with their faith, culture and tradition, have more transparency in the school system, have more supports for teachers, and respect for multicultural diversity in schools in terms of race, culture, tradition, and religion.

Agba’s profile can be found here.

Natalie Baillaut

Baillaut is an on-call teacher in the Saanich School District and facilitator with the BC Teachers’ Federation who hopes to bring their perspectives and insights from the classroom of the needs of students, teachers, and the school community to the school board.

If elected, their priority is ensuring schools are safe and inclusive spaces for all students with a focus on reconciliation, accessibility and support for students from all backgrounds.

Baillaut’s website can be found here.

Cindy Bedi Ralph

Bedi Ralph is the parent of two children in SD 61 and graduated from the district. She works at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training and previously worked at the Ministry of Education for seven years.

If elected, she plans to have an approachable and transparent governance strutcture with meangingful engagement processes, proper and adequate funding for special needs students, mental health and wraparound services, inclusive spaces for all LGBTQIA2S+ students.

Bedi Ralph’s website can be found here.

Esther Callo

Callo is a pre-service teacher with five years experience as an educational assistant. She also has 17 years experience as a parent volunteer and PAC director.

If elected, she hopes to ensure full funding of school programs, ensure education is inclusive to all students, consult with the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations for steps towards reconciliation and language revitalization, ensure a transparent governance process, implement environmental initiatives, and revise the culture at the school board.

Callo’s website can be found here.

Angela Carmichael

Carmichael has served as president of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Council and has advocated for equity and transparency in the district.

If elected, she hopes to issue an apology and invite stakeholders back to the table after they boycotted meetings due to the suspension of two trustees, put a freeze on senior district staff to address budget issues, work towards forming a cohesive team of the trustees, focus on the Climate Action Plan, and address staffing shortages in the district.

Carmichael’s Facebook page can be found here.

Sacha Christensen

Christensen attended Sir James Douglas Elementary, Central Middle School and Esquimalt High School and has served as an executive for the Camosun College Student Society.

If elected, he hopes to support 2SLGBTQIA+ students, implement student enrichment programming, work towards reconciliation, fulfill the district’s duties to students with disabilities, and build a better community.

Christensen’s website can be found here.

Matthew Cook

Cook is a father of two who hopes to push to make schools a welcoming and safe space to mold students into engaged citizens.

If elected, he plans to push for more resources to ease the strain on public schools, equality for all and for SOGI to “stay where it is,” and ensurce social services are well funded.

Cook’s Twitter can be found here.

Mavis David

David is running with her ancestor’s guidance to lay foundation for generations to come.

If elected, her priorities would be teamwork with constituents, putting children first, and communication with teachers, families and communities.

Nicole Duncan

Duncan is a business consultant and has a child currently attending school in SD 61. She has served as trustee since 2018 with a focus on student supports, student safety and privacy rights, climate accountability, financial oversight and transparency, administrative fairness and respectful Board governance.

If re-elected, she plans to push to address underfunding of schools, which in SD 61 has resulted in too few supports for the classroom, deferred maintenance, and the sale of school land “which should be safeguarded to meet the needs of students and families attending public school now and in the future.” She plans to prioritize measures the ensure equitable and inclusive supports in the classroom, and adequate capital funding.

In 2018, Duncan received the fourth most votes with 21,728.

Duncan also ran in the 2020 provincial elections in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding with the BC Green Party. She came in second with 7,362 votes.

Duncan’s website can be found here.

Jennifer Foster

Foster is the mom of a child about to enter kindergarten and is a former teacher. She now has a career in instructional design.

If elected, her priorities include ensuring SOGI is fully implemented, including Indigenous education, and meaningfully inculde students. She also hopes to be fiscally responsible, and ensure teachers are supported.

Foster’s website can be found here.

Derek Gagnon

Gagnon works in emergency management as a public egagement officer and volunteers with the 2136 Canadian Scottish Regiment Army Cadet Corps. He has worked with Edmonton Public Schools as a communications consultant and volunteered with Special Olympics Edmonton.

If elected, he hopes to work towards reconciliation, rebuild community trust, support mental and physical health literacy, and support the needs of LGBTQ2S+ students.

Gagnon’s website can be found here.

Daphna Gelbart

Gelbart has worked as a sexual health educator who stepped forward to run after hearing about a slate of candidates running to change SOGI in schools.

If elected, she hopes to work to ensure schools are vibrant and inclusive to prepare them for the future. She also plans to make decisions that consider the impact it will have on the broader community, make funding decisions with kids best interests, funding specialty programs, and to take action on climate change.

Gelbart’s website can be found here.

Leslie-Anne Goodall

Goodall retired from her work at Royal Jubilee Hospital, where she had been working since 2014.

She is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected, she plans to have sex and gender education be an optional program with full parental consent, and to do “all she can to correct what she sees as a failing school system.”

Goodall’s profile can be found here.

Karin Kwan

Kwan is the parent of four children, two who have graduated from the district and two currently attending. She has a bachelor of education from UVic and was a teacher on call for eight years. She then moved to a career in payroll and accounting and has sat as an executive on the Oak Bay Figure Skating Club as Treasurer, and the Cedar Hill Middle School Music Parents Association as Treasurer.

If elected, she plans to use her financial experience and knowledge of budgets to ensure funds are used effectively for students, ensure equal access to education for all by protecting actions like SOGI that are already in place and meeting the actions outlined in UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, creating innovative solutions to problems that arise in the district, and commit to transparency and keeping an open mind while making decisions.

Kwan’s Facebook page can be found here.

Charles Lamb

Lamb has owned and operated a general medical practice for six years and has two children attending schools in the district.

If elected, his guiding principles will be accountability and transparency to the public, fiscal responsibility, access and availability to public feedback, clean and effective communication, and altruism.

Lamb’s website can be found here.

Piers MacDonald

MacDonald has a bachelor of science from UVic in computer science and has spent over 15 years working in the software industry.

If elected, he plans to make decisions based on facts and reason, ensure the public is informed and eduated about what is going on at the district, and to engage with the public in a fair and transparent manner.

MacDonald’s website can be found here.

Emily Mahbobi

Mahbobi graduated from Reynolds Secondary in 2014, and from UVic in 2019. She has taught piano at the Victoria Conservatory of Music since 2019, and is an owner of Quadratic Sound, a local music studio and performance venue.

If elected, she plans to support initiatives for accessibility, mental health, and music.

Mahbobi’s Facebook page can be found here.

Diane McNally

McNally was first elected in 2011 and has served on the board since then. She has 35 years experience in public education and has a bachelor of education, a master of business administration, and a French language diploma.

If elected, she plans to continue to advocate for student involvement at the board, to listen to what the community would like in the district’s budget, and collaborate with partner groups in the interest of student success.

In 2018, she received the second most votes with 22,790.

McNally was one of two trustees who were suspended for allegations of bullying and harassment. She filed a petition in the court saying the court does not have the authority to suspend elected officials for the duration of their term. The B.C. Supreme Court recently ruled in her favour.

McNally’s website can be found here.

Kyle McStravick

McStravick works as an urban planner at the municipal level and has done policy work and real estate project management for the provincial government. He has a masters in city planning, and a bachelor in english literature.

If elected, he plans to ensure music education is in schools, work towards First Nations reconciliation, ensure responsbile fiscal management, and support SOGI.

McStravick’s website can be found here.

Janice Novotill

Novotill has worked in a range of fields including retail, manufacturing, computer support, and as a health care aide. She was involved in PAC as her two children went through the school district.

She is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected she hopes to support student mental health, have open and authentic communication with schools and parents, and balance the budget.

Novotill’s profile can be found here.

Rob Paynter

Paynter is an incumbent trustee seeking re-election for the board. He is a parent of students in SD 61 and another who has graduated and has moved on to post-secondary education. He was first elected in 2014 and has chaired the Board’s Operations, Policy and Planning Committee and Audit Committee. He has been a resident of Greater Victoria since 1983 where he attended Royal Roads Military College and later served in the 3rd Bn PPCLI.

If re-elected, his priorities are to ensure the edcation system is fully funded to meet the needs and aspirations of students, implement a strategic planning process that engages the Four Houses and the district’s educational partners, transparency and accountability in decision-making, and have meaningful engagement with students, parents, teachers, administrators, educational partners, the Four Houses and municipal leadership.

Paynter was one of two trustees who were suspended for allegations of bullying and harassment. He filed a petition in the court saying the board does not have the authority to suspend elected officials for the duration of their term. The B.C. Supreme Court recently ruled in his favour.

In 2018, he received the sixth most votes with 20,103.

Paynter’s website can be found here.

Roberta Solvey

Solvey has a BSc and has been a teacher in many jurisdictions including Saskatchewan and England.

She is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected, she hopes to address curriculum concerns that class time is taken up with “topics and information on the fashions, ideologies and political agendas of the times.” She wants the focus of schools to be on academic learning and ensure schools are a place that children can flourish and that schools honour the values and beliefs of parents, families, churches and social groups.

Solvey’s profile can be found here.

Tyson Strandlund

Strandlund was born and raised in Victoria and is a member of the MĂ©tis Nation of BC. He has academic writings on decolonization, racism, and nationalism and was a recipient of the Geraldine and Peter Shostak Scholarship in Ukrainian Studies.

If elected, he hopes to defend public education, promote a healthy learning environment, support Indigenous education, and guarantee adequate funding for music and the arts.

Strandlund’s website can be found here.

Jordan Watters

Watters has been a trustee for eight years and is seeking re-election. She has 14 years of experience in policy development, research and stakeholder engagement. She works in the Overdose Emergency Response Centre with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

If elected, she hopes to work towards a vision of good governance, inclusion, equity, reconciliation, climate action, safe and active routes to school, and leverage school district lands for community benefit.

In 2018, she received the fifth most votes with 20,315.

She previously served as the chair of the school board, but stepped down after the board faced allegations of systemic racism and she was asked by Songhees, Esquimalt, Metis and urban Indigenous communities to resign as chair.

Watters’ website can be found here.

Ann Whiteaker

Whiteaker is seeking re-election as a trustee in hopes to make a difference for students and to encourage collaborative and transparent decision making.

If re-elected, her priorities include increased advocacy to the provincial government to address underfunding of the schools, broad community engagement and a budget process to focus resources on students and classrooms, a commitment to board mentorship and support for colleague learning, and improved trust and confidence between the board, staff, and public.

Whiteaker’s website can be found here.

Michelle Wiboltt

Wiboltt is running for a trustee position, and also for mayor of Victoria.

If elected, Wiboltt would like to implement policies to ensure students are fully vaccinated, schools are completely free from religion, have a new selection of books including ones written by students, and introduce new classes starting at Grade 1 on topics like deportment, confidence building, basic banking, budgeting, sex ed, critical thinking skills, and logic puzzles.

Oliver Wu

Wu has a bachelor of science and has worked as a marine biologist in Canada since he immigrated here in 1999.

He is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected, he plans to support music programs, and “bring compassion and common sense to the school board.”

Wu’s profile can be found here.

Ali Zahra

Zahra has a BCOM in accounting and auditing, and has studied Chartered Professional Accountant. She hopes to bring her administrative and accounting skills to the school board.

If elected, her priorities are to screen programs and focus on the most efficient and inclusive programs and balancing the budget.

Sasha Zhang

Zhang has a masters in education and has taught at South China Polytech and Godwin High School in Richmond, Virginia. She has been a small business owner and entrepreneur for 30 years.

She is part of the VIVA Victoria slate.

If elected, she plans to allocate school funds to ensure students get classes in music, arts, and civics. She also hopes to improve access to counselling.

Zhang’s profile can be found here.

Judith Zulu

Zulu is a member of the community and parent to children in the public schools. She says she was inspired to run after seeing how hard the school board and teachers worked to ensure students had access to education during the pandemic.

If elected, she plans to respect parents rights and involvement to recognize gaps and respect parents input and diversity in ethnic and cultural values, create safe environments, implement more supports for teachers, fund music programs, and ensure multicultural representation.

Zulu’s website can be found here.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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