Congratulations to all the election winners, all of them members of the Surrey First party, who now control every seat on council and the majority of school board.
Many people were surprised at the election sweep by Surrey First. Obviously, having a big money machine helped. Money buys advantages. A Surrey First sweep is bad for democracy.
This year, Surrey First trustees were able to ignore the many parents who expressed the need for a change when they realized how deeply the cuts have affected our schools.
Door knocking, I found out many citizens are unsure of what goes on at school board meetings. Few people realize the lack of openness and accountability. Board discussions often take place behind closed doors and we don’t know how each trustee votes. Questions asked by the public are not recorded.
Where was the board during the teachers strike? They were silent. Where was the board on the continuing cutbacks of the education system?
Silent. We need open, transparent board meetings with a chance for the public to hear and to be heard.
We need a board that will stand up for schools and education in Surrey.
Victoria is starving public education.
And so a lot of new faces (like myself), new to politics, entered the election as candidates to express our dissent. New voices are good for democracy. More of that was needed on the Surrey Board of Education.
In the next four years, our only hope for change is for citizen and parent engagement at a grass roots level and at board meetings to ensure these elected trustees bring back a fully funded public education in Surrey.
Niovi Patsicakis, Surrey School Board candidate