Spoiled Ballot

The 2017/18 BCSTA Board of Directors taking their oath at the 113th AGM.

It’s the day after the BC School Trustees (BCSTA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). I must admit, it was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. This year, I did not put my name forward for the 2017/18 Board of Directors. I’ve served for 3 years on the board and I am very happy of the work that we accomplished. I was surprised how many people asked me “why I was not running” throughout the entire AGM. Let me rephrase this. Some members did not realize that I was not running during the AGM. It was more like “you’re not running?” That was shocking. Pre-conference materials, nominations from the floor (with names of candidates posted on the screen), candidate forum, and speeches… and still some members did not know I was running. I’m not sure if I was suppose to campaign to my colleagues that I was not running, but I was humbled by the kind words that many people had to say.

The other weird experience that I had during the AGM was being outside of the campaign. This was the first time in many years that the BCSTA had an election for the position of President. I’ve seen one other election for the position of Vice-President. Most times it’s an election for the position of Director. Strangely again, there were very few candidates for the position of Director. Not going to lie, I felt great not having to campaign throughout the weekend, think about what strategies to take to woo the voting membership, and stand on stage to the judging eyes of my colleagues. This was exactly what I was trying to avoid for the last month because I wanted to spend more cognitive time with my dissertation… and I did. The election campaign for President was even more interesting. Personally, I was conflicted. I did not have neutral feelings, but I did not have a clear “winner” in mind either. For me, it was a neck-and-neck race. Members would come up to me to ask if I had any information to impart to sway their vote because I knew the candidates relatively well from being on the Board of Directors with them for the last two years. Long story made short, I had nothing to offer to bring solace to sway their vote.

Before the AGM, I anticipated that there would be 3 clear tribes within our membership… those who supported one candidate, those who supported the other candidate, and those who were undecided (like me). The AGM was a struggle for me. On the one hand, I was wrestling with the whole notion of not running and fielding questions of why I was not running (e.g. complete my dissertation and defend). On the other hand, a president and the other positions of vice-president and directors had to be decided. I must admit… it got ugly. When people started engaging in the politics, it just wasn’t the same. What do I mean by that? Aside from people looking for some information on one candidate versus another, others would approach me to tell me which candidate they were supporting and/or endorsing. This was fascinating to me. I was confident that they were clear with their why and their vote, but I was undecided. Sounds strange, I know. I should know, right? Not the case. As a result, I felt like I was perceived to be supporting “the other candidate” if I did not agree. That was telling to me, in the big picture… about politics, self-interest, and integrity.

My local school board knew how I felt. They could see my internal conflict. What I love about my board is that we can have a team huddle where some members of my board had a candidate that they were fully supporting and some were undecided like me. We discussed the candidates and the election the day before the vote. I love how we could be candid with each other, but no personal crap (aka. drama) got in the way. It’s a level of mutual respect that I truly love and not take for granted. By election day, I was still undecided. In my mind, it was still 50/50. Because of this, my board offered me one of our four votes. There were five of us at the AGM. This was the kindest gesture I could of imagined. They mutually decided the three votes and I was given one for myself to decide. I was overwhelmed with the decision but wanted to make one. That said, I was not big and bold enough that I could completely step away from the vote even though I imagined I would have.

The dilemma persisted up until the ballots were collected and I did not vote in the end. I get it… that’s not a spoiled ballot and the title of the blog is somewhat misleading. That said, it’s very much like a spoiled ballot because the ballot would not count. Either way, it felt good not to vote. I could not decide and unintentionally, I didn’t. My conscience is free from making that decision and luckily the outcome was not within a one-vote difference. I would have felt horrible if that was the case. I am a firm believer in the democratic process and believe that every vote counts. I was happy that the assembly decided which candidate they wanted as their president and vice-president. Looking at the numbers, both rounds of voting were relatively close. The decision was not easy to make and I empathize. I truly do. Overall, I am very pleased the 2017/18 BCSTA Board of Directors as a whole. I look forward to all of the work that is set upon them by the membership at AGM. I wish them all of the best and hope that they will do their best to represent membership boards in the province as well as advocate for quality public education in BC.

I loved my work on the BCSTA Board of Directors. I loved being the liaison of the BCSTA Legislative Committee this year and BCSTA Education Committee (now renamed the Professional Learning Committee) for two-years previous. I am grateful for the people I have met as the VISTA Branch and previously the Metro Branch Liaison… and I am honoured to be part of the BCSTA Learning Guide (a curriculum for school trustees and boards of education) Working Group Committee. I would absolutely agree with Past President Teresa Rezansoff who said to the 2016/17 Board of Directors that we have left many fingerprints behind. We did. Thank you to all of the BCSTA Staff and kudos to our CEO Mike Roberts for all the work he has done with the Board of Directors to steer our organization along.

This was an excellent BCSTA AGM. I loved connecting with trustees from around the province as we move forward together to improve public education for all students in our communities via governance, policy, and decision-making. Being on the Board of Directors was an awesome experience and I am honoured to have represented boards of education over the past few years. Now that it’s the day after AGM, there is no question in my mind that I made the best decision for me.

2 comments:

  1. You are loved and respected by your fellow trustees from around the province. Being selfish myself I wished you were still on the board of directors because I truly feel you brought an energy no one else has. I also respect your decision that you have to do what is best for you. We will miss your leadership but I am sure it will be utilized in other areas behind the scenes. I love what you wrote and fully agree with the process of the campaign with the struggle of picking candidates for election. I think you did the right thing by not voting. You working so close with Candidates running for top positions would make it very hard to pick when they come with such great platforms themselves. You are always just a FB message or email away so I feel you will always be a valuable source to discuss issues and positives with. Talk soon. Just remember you Rock Christine.

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