Striding into Public Service

Created: 19/01/04

On April 22, 2018, I was having dinner with friends in Lahaina, Maui, at Fleetwood’s, owned by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. On top of excellent food on a spectacular patio, the music was phenomenal.

The conversation turned to politics. My friend is neighbour to the former Chief Administrative Officer George Harvie in Delta, who was expected to run for the position of Mayor of the City of Delta in the fall election. I have known George professionally for a few years and have always admired his work ethic and love for the place I have called home for 45 years.

My friend and I spent the better part of the evening talking about what George’s campaign might look like. I recall saying that although I was interested in public service, I was not yet ready to embark on such a mission. After dinner, we went downstairs where the band was playing and enjoyed the music until the restaurant closed. It was a great evening.

Election night with Mayor George Harvie

At 8 am Sunday morning, April 29, George Harvie called, wanting to meet with me about joining his campaign. I was stunned.

Three days later, George told me about his campaign plans and platform and all the great people he had assembled to run with him. When he asked if I was interested in joining the team, I said I wasn’t prepared to run for a council position. Council was not what he had in mind . . . George asked me to run for school board trustee.

I requested a couple of days to do some research. After some serious soul-searching, I agreed to join his team and campaign for the position of a school board trustee for the 37th School District of Delta.

From the beginning, I felt my chances of getting elected were low. Incumbents are not often defeated in school board elections. Seventeen people were running for 7 seats and 6 were incumbents.

My friend Ian Paton, MLA for Delta South, gave me some sound advice. He said if you want to win a campaign, all you need to do is have a meaningful discussion about yourself and your campaign platform with every single registered voter in Delta and you will be well on your way to securing their vote. 

What he was really saying was get out there and knock on doors. Knock on a hundred and a hundred more until your legs ache and your voice starts to crack. Then do it again the next day. That strategy worked for Ian; he had won the MLA seat quite comfortably. All his door-knocking made the difference so off I went!

We had 4 weeks to get our story across. Our team did a lot of doorknocking and the residents of Delta shared many thoughts, feelings, and even emotions with us. We took time to listen. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I engaged with my community as never before. I met many wonderful people and we shared many stories.

By election day, we had knocked on thousands of doors. We had worked hard; it was up to the electorate now. Had our message resonated? Did we meet enough people? Did we listen enough?

Advance poll results were released first and I was sitting third of the 17 candidates. The mood in the room got better and better as each poll result was posted. It was a night I will never forget.

By the end of the evening, a total of 8 individuals on our 11-person team were elected—3 members of our team of 4 are on the school board and we won the majority of the seats on City Council, with George Harvie as Mayor. The voters made a positive connection with us and gave us our mandate. It was a very humbling moment.

I have just begun 4 years of public service. The responsibility of ensuring that the children of Delta get the best possible education has been put on our shoulders as school trustees. I am confident Delta elected outstanding people overall to serve the next term

You never know what the future may hold. Dinner with a friend in April morphed into public office in October. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Life is a journey—enjoy the ride!

Reprinted with permission from The Scrivener, Volume 7 Number 24 Winter 2018. Download the original article here.