Of the eight candidates running for school board trustee only three live in either ward 1 or ward 2

By Lynn Crosby

May 24, 2023



Burlington is in the midst of a by-election for the Halton District School Board Ward 1 and 2 Trustee seat.

Anyone who lives in the Region can run for a Burlington seat.

Online voting took place the week of May 15, the advance polls are open today, May 24. Election Day is Monday, May 29.

Voter turnout in the June 2022 provincial election was the lowest in Ontario’s history, at only 43.5%. Here in Burlington, it was far worse, with only 27.6% bothering to vote. By-elections historically result in even lower turnouts, and when the by-election is for School Trustee, it is likely lower still.

This is a shame – voting is a right for which our veterans fought and died, and we Canadians are lucky that we have this right, where so many in the world do not. I suggest that we have a duty to vote, but also to first inform ourselves about the candidates and the issues.

For many of us who have been following this by-election campaign, we are questioning some factors that are both abnormal and concerning.

We have eight candidates running for Burlington Wards 1 and 2 HDSB Trustee. Only three of them live in either Ward 1 or Ward 2.

Two of them don’t even live in Burlington – they live in Oakville.

The chart below has been making the rounds on social media. Former HDSB Chair Andrea Grebenc and other past and current Trustees in both the HDSB and HCDSB have shared this chart.

All believe that the public should research their candidates carefully and then must get out and vote.

Why is a candidate from Oakville running to be a Burlington Ward 1 and 2 Trustee in the first place? Personally, I would never vote for a Trustee who doesn’t live in my city, let alone ward. I feel it is very important that our Ward 1 and 2 community be represented by someone who lives here, knows the schools and can provide meaningful input on boundary reviews and the neighbourhoods.

If an Oakville candidate wants to be a Halton school trustee, he or she should have run in June 2022 in Oakville, or should wait until the next election and contest an Oakville seat.

Six of the eight candidates live in Burlington but only three of the six live in either ward 1 or ward 2.

While the provincial rules permit anyone living in Halton can run in any municipality in the Region, the practice has always been for the trustee to live in the ward to effectively represent parents.

The Gazette has interviewed two of the three – links to those interviews are set out below.

The other head-scratching factor in this by-election campaign is the recent public endorsements on social media by two Oakville MPPs, Stephen Crawford and Effie Triantafilopoulos for one of those Oakville candidates, Celina Close.

Close was also endorsed by the Burlington People’s Party of Canada candidate and spoke at their recent event. When Effie was questioned by a trustee on Twitter about the appropriateness of her wading in to endorse a school trustee candidate, Effie responded in the usual manner of many politicians: she immediately blocked the trustee from communicating with her on her Twitter.

What is going on here that we have such interest in this seat, from across Burlington’s wards, into Oakville, and by sitting Ontario MPPs?

I urge Burlington Ward 1 and Ward 2 residents to get out and vote on Monday, May 29. Please know your vote matters – in a by-election especially, every vote counts, and the seat could be decided by a 20-vote difference. Look at the platforms and experience of the candidates, think about where they live and why they are running. Whether you have children in the school system or not, your vote is a vote for the future. We all benefit from having the best public schools possible, and from having strong leaders on our school boards. We pay considerable tax money for our schools and our Trustees represent our voices.

Our children are our most precious resource – they can’t vote, but we can. Vote wisely.

Related news stories:

Robbie Brydon

Daniel Warren Oke

The Gazette was not able to reach Ross Montgomery.

There is a news story on Montgomery here

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1 comment to Of the eight candidates running for school board trustee only three live in either ward 1 or ward 2

  • Gary Scobie

    A cautionary tale, Lynn. Whatever happened to the tradition of councillors and trustees living in the ward they want to represent? It seems misrepresent is becoming a “thing” today and not in any good way. Same thing with MPPs now trying to influence their followers if they happen to live in the voting area, even though they themselves have no vote.

    Another example of the Province trying to manage everything within the province when they can’t even manage their current responsibilties. Deflect and bully rather than govern. Not a good lesson for Halton kids.

    I’m glad Ms. Grebenc and some of her former colleagues on the School Board are on to this trend and pointing it out to parents.

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