By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – With all the attention focused on mayor and council candidates, it could be easy to forget there’s another reason you should vote on Oct. 27.
“The municipal elections seem to be the focus,” said Kevin Brisson.
He’s one of several candidates vying for a spot in the Upper Canada District School Board’s (UCDSB) Wards 8 and 9.
Brisson, a retail manager for a Cornwall store and former college instructor, is looking to end incumbent David McDonald’s reign as the UCDSB trustee for Cornwall (Ward 8).
His focus is on finding a new school board director, collective bargaining, balanced budgets, special education, and class sizes.
“My goals are to listen, work earnestly as part of the team, question and become informed about any needed information to make me a good school board trustee,” said Brisson. “I don’t believe in making promises that I can help every person with their individual issues, but I will do my best to represent the community as a whole and put student needs first.”
Meanwhile, McDonald’s goals are based on existing initiatives that have been on-going throughout his tenure: contract negotiations with the province, maintaining a 90 per cent graduation rate, increasing the achievement scores from the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), improving communication from home to school and from school to home, and new construction.
“Having served 14 years, I have a solid understanding of the complexities of the legislation that; governs the delivery of education, determines the distribution of funds to boards and the fiduciary responsibilities of the role of trustee,” said McDonald. “All of this coupled with the fact that I am a believer and champion for public education makes me qualified for this position.“
Rather than reinvent, Brisson is looking to bring a fresh voice from the community to the table. The trustee candidate wants to be an integral team player to ensure sound policies are followed and are developed when needed.
“I want to help ensure that budgets are maintained and followed, but that the needs of students are the first priority when decisions are made,” he said. “I believe it is important to represent parents and community members.”
In McDonald’s time at the UCDSB, he’s served as chair for four years and vice chair for eight. He also chaired the Audit Committee, which is responsible for reviewing the financial statements and to set the course for internal audits, and currently sits on the board of directors for the Ontario Public School Board Association as vice chair of the eastern region.
“I have the leadership skills to make tough decisions and the empathy to understand the needs of parents, students, and staff,” he said.
While Brisson and McDonald have to work to earn votes, Ward 7 (Dundas County) has been acclaimed by Winchester’s Jeremy Armer, which is currently held by UCDSB board chair and trustee Greg Pietersma, who is not seeking re-election.
There are also four people running for Ward 9, which covers Glengarry and Stormont, including William Fielding, Wendy McPherson, Bradley Nuttley, and incumbent Arthur Buckland.
One spot is available on the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) for Dundas and Stormont counties; incumbent Karen McAllister is squaring off with Michael J. Dunne.
Incumbents Ron Eamer and Todd Lalonde were elected by acclamation for the two CDSBEO Cornwall-Glengarry seats.
Jonathan de Serres, Michael Pilon, and Francois Bazinet have also been acclaimed as trustees with the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien.
And there’s a three-way race between incumbent Lise Benoit-Leger, Jean Bedard, and Jules Bourdon to represent Cornwall and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry in the Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario.
For more information about the candidates, where to vote or how to contact school board trustees, visit http://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/en/elections/2014/.