With less than two weeks before residents head to the polls to choose a new school board trustee, the campaigns are amping up.
Some New Westminster residents have already received a pre-recorded call or two from the local MLA or MP in support of labour-endorsed candidate Dee Beattie. Both Peter Julian and Judy Darcy, along with Mayor Jonathan Cote, offered their support for her campaign, Beattie said.
“I just reached out to people and was looking for support and it just kind of happened. They offered to do them. So it’s been pretty exciting, the amount of support I’ve gotten. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the support, but it’s been good,” Beattie told the RecordWednesday, after casting her ballot at the byelection’s first advance poll.
On Tuesday, the former CUPE employee officially retired from her job with the Surrey school district after more than two decades. Beattie was endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour Council, after she was chosen by the council’s committee over two other candidates. (The council would not provide the names of the other people who applied for the endorsement.)
The endorsement has been a point of contention for some New Westminster residents who’ve taken to Twitter to criticize the district labour council, but Beattie said the endorsement doesn’t mean she’s beholden to the left-leaning organization.
“Being labour-endorsed is an honour. I’m a CUPE person; I have a CUPE background,” she told the Record. “Being labour-endorsed means we all share the same values and we have the same principles. We all want a strong public education system. That’s what’s really exciting about this board. I think they have those values, we share the same values, we all want the same thing for the school district, which is a really good school system that works good for kids.”
Carolyn Rice, secretary-treasurer of the New Westminster and District Labour Council, echoed Beattie’s comments when asked about the council’s endorsement during a byelection.
“We don’t treat a byelection any differently than a general election. Every candidate has to be vetted in the committee, then (the committee) weighs all the qualities of the candidate, and Dee certainly was the strongest of the candidates we considered,” Rice told the Record.
The labour council doesn’t organize or run her campaign, Rice said.
The endorsement comes with no strings attached, and it’s not a slate, Rice added. It’s just an endorsement and often comes with a donation; for Beattie, that was $500.
“We have people from so many backgrounds that all bring different skills to the table,” Rice said. “Dee would bring, again, something else to the table that isn’t currently there, and that’s her experience and capacity working in the public school system.”
Current school board chair Jonina Campbell, who attended a barbecue with fellow labour-endorsed trustees and city councillors in support of Beattie, said the endorsement is nothing more than that, and no matter who wins the election, Campbell is looking forward to working with them.
“Obviously, as board chair, I recognize my role to represent all trustees on the board and stay committed to that and recognizing also that this is an election and we’ve been endorsed by a similar group,” she said.
Once elected, trustees must work together no matter what, Campbell said, adding the school board has worked hard over the years to cooperate and do its best to improve education for students in the city.
“That sometimes, in politics, is not always something that is easily accomplished at any level, but I think that our school board has done a really good job of coming together and working together and putting students first,” she said.
Thoughts from the Twitterverse:
@k0dibear I’m not at all impressed with endorsements from 3 levels of NW politicians. As a result I’m voting Lalji on principle
@Crostyca R U comfortable #newwest Mayor Council MLA & MP campaign & endorse #trustee candidate? @TheRecord Once elected they represent all residents.
@laxdude Let’s hope that #NewWest votes against the wishes of Mayor robo-call @jonathanxcote just on principle.
@MikeFolka Maybe I’m being hyper sensitive but it doesn’t seem quite right to see elected trustees & council backing candidates in a by-election, no?
@lifeinnewwest @MikeFolka It does feel a little odd given there’s no ‘parties’ here. But I’d expect a Vision or NPA councillor to support their candidate