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UPDATED: Three of nine Vancouver School Board trustees won’t seek re-election

Vision’s Joy Alexander retires from politics, Ken Clement is out of the picture, Judy Zaichkowsky is reeling from real estate
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Vision's Joy Alexander is retiring from politics, fellow Vision member Ken Clement is no longer running for school board or council and Judy Zaichkowsky is sitting this election cycle out. photo Dan Toulgoet

Joy Alexander’s got travel on her mind, Judy Zaichkowsky is moving and Ken Clement is no longer running at all.

Outside of those three sitting school board trustees, the remaining six incumbents have confirmed to the Courier they’ll seek re-election Oct. 20.

Clement was announced as a Vision council candidate on June 20 but withdrew his candidacy last week due to health reasons, according to Vision spokesperson Michael Haack.

Clement was the first municipal official of First Nations descent in Vancouver’s history when elected to the school board in 2008. He did not respond to multiple interview requests from the Courier.

In Alexander’s case, the current Vision co-chair is leaving politics entirely after first being elected in 2014. She’d previously retired from teaching and is leaving municipal life to travel.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the school board,” she told the Courier in an email. “Public education is extremely important to me and I welcomed the opportunity to be involved in it.  My only regret is that I didn't run for office earlier in my life.”

Like many Vancouverites, Zaichkowsky’s life is being ruled by real estate right now. The Green Party trustee recently bought a new place in Vancouver to live and hasn’t sold her previous digs. On top of teaching two classes at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, she’s knee deep in real estate and can’t devote the time to campaigning or serving on the board.

Zaichkowsky garnered the second-highest amount of votes of the 18 nominees who ran in the 2017 byelection, finishing only behind eventual board chair and incumbent Janet Fraser.

“I would definitely run in the future but I’m well aware of how much time it takes to do this. And right now I just cannot commit the time,” she said in an interview.

The Green Party’s 2017 triumvirate was rounded out by Estrellita Gonzalez, who finished third in the 2017 vote.

“I feel the current board has done a lot to help ‘right the ship’ and now with a new, four-year term could really solidify a plan and take action to make VSB once again the best school district in B.C.,” Gonzalez said in an email.

Along with Fraser, Gonzalez will be joined by Britannia PAC member and IT consultant Lois Chan-Pedley. Nick Chernen, who manages a clothing store on Main Street, withdrew his candidacy on July 8 after not disclosing to party officials that he had an active lawsuit before the courts.

Given Alexander’s retirement and Clement bowing out, Vision’s three nominees are acclaimed: Aaron Leung, Erin Arnold and the board’s longest-serving trustee, Allan Wong.

First elected in 1999 and re-elected every term since, Wong’s work plan if re-elected is to hire more teachers and push for all seismic upgrading work to be done by 2030.   

“There [is] much to be done to support the district and students,” he said in an email.

First elected in 2011, Fraser Ballantyne will run again under the NPA banner, as will first-term trustee Lisa Dominato. The party is expected to hold its nomination meeting before the end of July.

“I’m proud of the initiatives I spearheaded to strengthen leadership, accountability and transparency at the VSB in the best interests of students,” Dominato said in an email.

OneCity incumbent Carrie Bercic will return to the fold alongside two other nominees: social justice advocate Erica Jaaf and Jennifer Reddy, associate director of leadership and community building programs at Simon Fraser University.

Jaff ran in the 2017 byelection, while Reddy served as a program coordinator in the field of the immigrant youth and settlement work with the VSB from 2010 to 2017.

“Moving forward, I will have a strong focus on teacher and staff support, and recruitment and retention,” Bercic told the Courier in an email. “In addition, my focus will continue to be on students in the classroom — most particularly finding ways to ensure students with diverse learning needs get the services they need, supporting our Indigenous students, and making sure critical programs and services are maintained.”

COPE’s nominees include retired teacher Barb Parrott and Diana Day, who served on the VSB’s Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement committee.

The election is Oct. 20.

@JohnKurucz