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Burnaby school board's lone non-BCA trustee not running for second term

Burnaby Green Party trustee Christine Cunningham, who ended a decade of one-party rule on the Burnaby school board four years ago, has decided not to run for a second term.
Christine Cunningham5
Burnaby Green Party trustee Christine Cunningham takes the oath of office with B.C. Provincial Court Judge Pedro de Couto at a public school board meeting at Burnaby Central Secondary in November 2018.

The trustee who ended a decade of one-party rule on the Burnaby school board four years ago has decided not to run for a second term.

By the time Burnaby Green Party trustee Christine Cunningham was elected in October 2018, the Burnaby Citizens Association had held a monopoly on the board for 10 years.

She promised to bring “a new voice, a different voice” to the board.

After only one term, however, the board’s lone non-BCA member has decided not to run in October's municipal election.

“I feel like this should be passed on to younger people,” she told the NOW.

Cunningham said she is also looking to spend more time with her grandchildren and pursue other interests.

Looking back on her four years at the board table, Cunningham said it has been a “great honour” to have served as a trustee and she is proud of the work the current board has done, especially its anti-racism initiatives, its first-ever standalone sustainability strategic plan and it response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With five rookie trustees elected in 2018, Cunningham said she’s seen the current board come into its own over the last four years.

“That takes a bit of figuring things out, but I feel like the board grew into its proper role, and its proper role is not just to rubber-stamp things,” she said. “It is to give careful consideration to the issues that are being brought before the board, and to ask thoughtful questions about what the operations side of things is doing and why they’re doing it that way.”

Cunningham admits she had some learning to do herself.

“I didn’t really understand the role I think very well when I started, and so it has been a learning curve,” she said. “What I really kind of learned is that the role is one of providing direction to the school district but also protecting the good work that goes on within the school district, standing up for the district.”

She pointed to the district’s COVID response as an example.

Five of Cunningham’s school board colleagues (Jen Mezei, Gary Wong, Larry Hayes, Bill Brassington and Peter Cech) are running again in this fall’s municipal election.

The BCA has also announced two new trustee candidates (Mikelle Sasakamoose and Kristin Schnider).

The Greens have announced two school board hopefuls as well: Harinder Parmar and Jeff Courson.

Running as independents are Rocky Dong, Paul Kwon and Spenser Sproul.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor




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