On Running For Office

alberta school board association

There’s always been a piece of me, in the back of my mind, that would like to run for office. I am now closer than ever to making that a reality.

Last year I joined my local Community Association giving me a window on civic politics. Now, as the next round of elections loom in October, I find myself looking farther on the horizon to see if there are opportunities.

As my sons grow to school age, the business of School Boards is now one of the most important things in my life. From busing fees, to school locations, to zoning, and curriculum, I have an opinion on issues that 5 years ago meant nothing to me.

The more I sit and watch the issues facing the Trustees at Calgary’s Board of Education, the more I find myself shaking my head at the board’s inability to make common sense decisions and plan for the future.

I have written a few editorials [here and here] expressing my frustration and over the past few weeks I have been doing research at what it would take to actually run for office and try to affect the change I seek from inside the system instead of yelling at a brick wall from outside.

I went to an information seminar this week held by the Alberta School Board Association for prospective trustees. They ran down the expectations, the responsibilities, and the work load. Many people think of School Trustees as glorified members of a PTA, but they handle budgets worth tens of millions of dollars, and are responsible for shaping the future for our children.

As the meeting went on, I realized now is not my time.

While I am passionate about a few issues directly affecting the schools (or lack of schools) in my ward, I’m not well versed enough on the school system as a whole. The workload, while described as part time, is better suited for someone who wants to work part time instead of someone already with a full-time job who would increase their workload to more than time and a half.

I met some great people who are just as frustrated with the system as I am. I will support these people in the October elections, and I will start a few rungs lower on the ladder. I will join the system at the School Council level. I will champion the issues I’m passionate about at the micro level, while paying attention to how things work in the system.

So, despite the anticipation of some, I will not be running in October 2013.

October 2017? Maybe.

This has been a great learning experience that has made me more aware of this level of politics. While 70% of taxpayers don’t currently have children in the jurisdiction Calgary School Board, this is an important level of civic politics that needs good people making decisions that will affect our future. We need well rounded, happy, healthy, and engaged kids. That starts with engaged voters. Take some time to learn about the system, and place your X proudly this October.

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Buzz Bishop

Dad. Broadcaster. Writer. Media Disruptor. Two time Guinness World Record Holder. I run marathons for Team Diabetes.

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