Friday, October 19, 2018

Jumping to Conclusions - the VSB Election.

School board elections tend to be low profile - they shouldn't be - but they typically are.  By the time voters work their way through the ballot and find themselves at school board a lot of people seem to lose interest in deciding. That's too bad as some of the most important societal decisions are made in our schools.  I've previously made public the kind of person I think is best suited for the role of trustee.  You can revisit my picks here. In this commentary I want to speculate on who will actually end up on the school board tomorrow and whether one should consider doing anything about it.

In past elections when there were two major parties going up against each other the popularity of the winning mayor had a lot to do with who won school board (though not always).  This time around with four serious contenders (though most pundits suggest it is still really a right/center race between Sims (NPA)  and Stewart (Vision in all but name).  Sylvester is presented as an ideological center ground.  Who knows, maybe she could squeak up the middle.  Running a distant fourth is Hector Bremner who formed his own party once the NPA denied him a nomination spot. This diversity on the center-right with no clear left wing candidate means, I think, that by the time voters get to school board choices they will be straying long and far from any kind of ideological consistency. So, here are my best bets on who will end up steering Vancouver's education system for the next four years.

I doubt that any of the candidates from the new right wing groupings (Vancouver 1st, Coalition Vancouver, Pro Vancouver, or Yes Vancouver ) will manage to win a seat on school board.  A couple of them have name recognition, but given the low polling numbers for their mayoralty candidate it's not likely they'll tip the scales enough to get a seat on the board.

I'm pretty sure that there will be enough conservative votes to elect at least two NPA'ers to the board (if not three). I would prefer that not to be the case. But, given the way things in Vancouver are shaping up, I suspect some people will consider these conservatives to be a centrist compromise choice. I think they're wrong and actually a dangerous choice this election, but the will of those who vote is what ultimately matters. So I'm going to bet on Ballantyne (an incumbent) and Richardson (who was previously on the board) getting enough just enough votes to join the board.

I don't think any of the independents will do more than a good showing.  I would like to see Morgane Oger get elected, but history runs against them. Of course, this could be the election where an independent with solid name recognition does get elected.  I would like that, but am not holding my breath.

I think there will be at lest two greens in the top three. These are the right/center candidates that appeal to a good swarth of middle-of-the-road voters. I'm with Patti Bacchus here on why it's not a good thing to vote for the greens, but I am fairly certain that at least the two incumbent greens will return to the school board and given the tenor of the times they will likely pull their running mate on with them.

I think that maybe one COPE candidate will get on the board, but the back room politics that created vision has had lasting damage on the ability of COPE to break back into electoral victory of any sort. However, if there was an election to turn the tide, this would be it. With Jean Swanson running for city council (essentially as the political conscience of justice and official opposition to the center-right block that will likely dominate things) her voters may be enough to swing at least one COPE candidate onto the school board.  Here the weight of the Vancouver District Labour Council endorsement of Barb Parrot (former VSB teachers' union activist) may be enough to give COPE a seat.

Vision is likely going to get shellacked though I think that long time trustee (first elected with COPE) Alan Wong will hold his seat. Vision is only running three candidates this time and Wong's two running mates are relatively unknown outside of PACs and the internal politics of public schools. Given the absence of a Vision mayoralty candidate I don't think things bode well for vision on school board.

OneCity will likely get two spots on the school board. I'm betting on incumbent Carrie Bercic. For second spot I suspect Erica Jaaf, given her Parent Advisory Advocacy, might get her the spot.  Jennifer Reddy also has an extensive network across the city as an immigrant support worker. Ideally all three of them would be great on the school board (that's how I voted).

So let me jump to some early conclusions!  Here is my predication for tomorrow's Vancouver School Board election listed by last name in rough order from most votes to least number of votes.

Fraser (Green)
Gonzalez (Green)
Chan-Pedley (Green) 
Wong (Vision)
Bercic (One City)
Jaaf (One City)
Richardson (NPA)
Ballantyne (NPA) 
Parrott (COPE)

I don't think this would be a good outcome for our schools. For one thing, past experience tells us that the greens are more likely to act like the NPA than either Vision or COPE.  Slight shifts to the right or to the center could make a big difference in terms of the composition of the board. Voters opting for the new right parties could pull down NPA votes enough to bring one or two more Vision or OneCity candidates onto the board (but without electing any of the new right candidates). Defections from Visions right could add a third NPA trustee to the board and potentially knock off COPE or Vision's Wong.  There are all kinds of ways this could go.

I'll end with a plug of my own recommendations and ask that you help me make my above predictions wrong, wrong, wrong!

Vote for the following great people:

Erin Arnold  (Vision)
Carrie Bercic  (OneCity)
Diana Day    (COPE)
Erica Jaaf   (OneCity)
Aaron Leung (Vision)
Morgan Oger (Independent)
Barb Parrott  (COPE)
Jennifer Reddy (OneCity)
Alan Wong (Vision)

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