Sunday September 17, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated September 18, 2023 – 4:40 pm]
School board editorial analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The trustees who form the board of education of Sooke School District 62 are short one member. A full board is comprised of seven trustees, but currently there are only six.
Meanwhile, one seat was left vacant when former board chair Ravi Parmar resigned in July 2023.
Now that seat will be filled without so much of a fuss, as only one candidate submitted nomination papers by the September 8, 2023 deadline.
That denies voters in the Belmont Zone (Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands) an opportunity to have their say.
One candidate ‘elected’:
The one candidate — who the Chief Election Officer Joan Axford has declared as Elected, will be sworn in at a short SD62 meeting on Tuesday September 26. That candidate is Christine Lervold, who also ran in the October 2022 election cycle.
Coming in fifth and sixth in the Belmont Zone (eighth and ninth overall for the full board) in the October 15, 2022 election in the Belmont Zone were Christine Lervold with 4,672 votes (12.6%), followed by Mary P Brooke with 3,759 votes (10.1%), with that followed by Dominique Jacobs with 2,724 votes (7.4%).
Family connection & MLA endorsement:
Christine Lervold’s father Lanny Seaton said at a campaign event last year that elected representation should be “kept in the family”. Former Langford city councillor (and then-candidate) Denise Blackwell as present when Seaton said that to Island Social Trends and she was equally offended to hear that.
Lanny Seaton was a City of Langford councillor for over 25 years until 2022, and his wife Dianna Seaton was one of the longest-serving SD62 trustees until the 2022 election.
Recently-elected MLA Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca) posted in social media back in July that Lervold was his ‘pick’ for SD62 trustee. It’s unclear whether that sort of collusion is seen in other school districts. Parmar is the former SD62 board chair (he only resigned from the SD62 board on July 27, 2023 one day before being sworn-in as MLA).
Parmar called Lervold’s family connections “a long-standing tradition of community service”, in a social media post on July 27, 2023.
A former SD62 trustee and municipal council candidate in the 2022 election cycle, Wendy Hobbs said a few weeks ago that she was in favour of Christine Lervold in the Belmont Zone for this by-election.
Some senior elected and administrative leaders in the westshore community have expressed concern that the new SD62 board (elected in October 2022) was still lacking strength in budget analysis. Lervold has worked with the BC government including evidently in the education ministry, so perhaps that ‘shortcoming’ will be better covered now.
SD62 school board and schools:
School district boards in BC present themselves in unison — once a motion has been passed, all trustees must speak in alignment with the board’s position regardless of how they voted at the board table. That differs from municipal councils where each elected representative can speak about their position to the public.
However, each school trustee is elected by the community (well, unless they’re a shoo-in) and the voters have a right to be able to speak to their trustees directly about any concerns in the delivery of public education.
All but one of the SD62 schools are located in Langford, Colwood, and Sooke. There is one school in Metchosin. Voters choose trustees from two zones of the geographically large SD62 school district (Belmont Zone with voters in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands, and also Milne’s Landing Zone which has voters in Sooke and Juan de Fuca).
Current board composition:
The new SD62 board chair is Amanda Dowhy who was recently elected by fellow trustees into that position. Vice-chair is Ebony Logins. Both chair and vice chair — as well as second-term trustee Allison Watson — are all from the Milne’s Landing (Sooke) side of the SD62 school district.
The three brand-new trustees since the October 15, 2022 election (sworn-in November 1, 2022) were elected in the west shore Belmont Zone: Cendra Beaton, Russ Chipps and Trudy Spiller.
Now the seventh and newest trustee will also be from the Belmont Zone.
No by-election October 14, 2023:
Almost one year to the day, another election was to be held on October 14, 2023 for school trustee in the Belmont Zone of SD62.
“The timing for declaration by acclamation is managed by the local government act. There must be time for challenge and withdrawal after the declaration of candidates on September 8,” said SD62 Chief Election Officer Joan Axford in an email to Island Social Trends on September 18. “I will do the official declaration of election by acclamation at 4 pm today as outlined in legislation,” said Axford on September 18.
The letter issued at 4 pm had no date on it.
The SD62 website already showed that one candidate has been declared as elected and be sworn in at a meeting on September 26. Christine Lervold will be sworn-in on September 26, 2023 at 5 pm.
- Oct 14 by-election to fill SD62 trustee vacancy (September 6, 2023)
- Helping BC families with back to school costs (September 5, 2023)
- All school trustees may speak to the media (September 4, 2023)
- New SD62 board chair & vice chair (August 29, 2023)
- SD62 reminds west shore voters about up-coming by-election (August 1, 2023)
- Ready, set… SD62 prepares to launch trustee by-election for October 14 (July 21, 2023)
- Five brand new trustees on SD62 board (October 21, 2022) – includes October 15, 2022 election results
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is the founder, editor and publisher of a series of news publications based on the west shore of south Vancouver Island: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and Island Social Trends (since 2020). The print publications from 2008 to 2020 are permanently archived at the Sooke Region Museum. Mary’s writing is about issues of today’s world through a socioeconomic lens and with a geographical root in the west shore of south Vancouver Island.
Mary P Brooke gives public talks on the current challenges of journalism in a world dominated by social-media. She also gives talks on urban food resilience. | Contact Mary P Brooke to arrange a presentation
Mary Brooke is the proud mother of four (now grown) children who attended schools in SD61 and SD62. She served on elementary school PACS in both Fairfield/Oak Bay and Sooke in the years 1992-1995 and then 2005 to 2007; a resident of Sooke 2007-2017 and now Langford since 2017, Mary P Brooke ran for SD62 school trustee (Belmont Zone) in the October 2022 election cycle.
Mary P Brooke covered the COVID pandemic daily from the end of 2019 through 2021, and into 2022 — including the impacts in public education. She now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery.
Ms Brooke was nominated in 2023 for the Jack Webster Foundation award that recognizes a woman journalist who contributes to her community through journalism.