The Municipal election was a difficult time for candidates school board trustee in the four board represented in North Grenville. The candidates faced an almost complete aura of neglect, as voters concentrated almost exclusively on candidates for council and mayor in the municipality. At some all-candidate meetings, those running for school boards were not even allowed speak. It takes great effort, patience and dedication to continue campaigning when so very few seem to be paying any attention.
But campaign they did – those, at least, who were not acclaimed and didn’t have to face the trauma of election night. Rachel LaForest, Trustee for the French Public School Board, was in that happy position on election night. Traumatic it was, however, for the other candidates, as the special character of the Trustee positions meant that candidates had to wait for results in more than one municipality, before knowing their fate.
Lisa Swan, who won re-election as Trustee for the Upper Canada School Board, was still waiting for official confirmation of her election days after the count was supposedly complete. Because of delays in Prescott, and even though her lead over challenger, Andrew Shanks, at that point seemed unassailable, Lisa could not be officially named as Trustee. Lisa represents Ward 6 of the UCDSB, which includes the communities of Edwardsburg-Cardinal, North Grenville and Prescott.
Brent Laton was re-elected for the English Separate School Board. His two challengers, Jean LeClair and Carol Charlebois, effectively split the vote. Their combined total of 1,226 far exceeded Brent’s 883. That’s how elections can be sometimes. For the French Separate School Board, Anouk Tremblay had a significant winning margin over her rival, Edwil Fleury, who had an uphill battle to unseat the popular incumbent.
If this election for Trustee proved anything, it is that a new approach is needed in future in order to allow candidates for these important positions to have an opportunity to be heard by the voting public. The majority of voters in the municipality may not even have a child attending one of these four school boards, yet they have the same vote as parents and guardians. That is fair enough, given that all taxpayers support one of the four Boards and deserve a vote. But it would be so much better if the issues and options involved in the running of school boards could be aired more generally, so that all voters could have the chance to make an informed choice. Perhaps things will be different in four years time.