One former school board chairperson and one longtime education worker are in the running for Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s vacant school trustee seat.
Steve Rae and Naomi Bailey are the two candidates running for school board in a Jan. 15 byelection. The vacancy at the table was created when Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Lisa Marie Barron resigned her seat earlier this fall.
Rae was school board chairperson during the previous term, but did not run for re-election in 2018. He said his understanding of the school district and knowledge of the workings of the school board are assets considering that there are only months left in the board’s term.
“With my past experience, with the relationships that I’ve established, I can hit the ground running,” Rae said. “I think I’m uniquely qualified to jump in with little or no disruption to the school district today and help them get to the end of the term.”
He has been on the Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation’s board of directors the past few years and said looking out for vulnerable kids in the district continues to be a priority for him. He’s also interested in helping the school board continue to build relationships with Indigenous partners and local governments, and wants to help advocate for a new high school.
Rae said he wants to be back on the board because he said it’s gratifying to be able to play a role, from that position, in the growth and learning of young people from all walks of life.
Bailey said she never thought she would run in a political campaign, but said the timing was right and she feels she has the right kind of experience. She has worked in schools for 25 years and during that time has taught from kindergarten to Grade 12, worked in student support services, been a counsellor-adviser, and has worked a stint as a school administrator with Stz’uminus First Nation. She is now acting manager of Indigenous protocol at Vancouver Island University.
“I feel like I have the experience and the knowledge,” Bailey said. “I’ve always been passionate about working with students and have loved my job, so I feel I have a lot to offer.”
Something she hopes to advocate for at the board table is more hours for education assistants which she said would help with hiring and retention.
“The students that require EAs, they need consistency, they need that same person there every day, especially the younger children. That’s one of the problems with the system right now,” she said.
Bailey would also like to see more child and youth care workers in the district, as she said mental health needs to be a priority. She mentioned as well that she’s interested in being part of school district facilities planning as she sees schools filled up north of Departure Bay.
Bailey, who is Indigenous, added that she’s very passionate about supporting Indigenous learners and reconciliation and said “I think as Canadians we can walk together in a really positive way.”