Just five months ago in the Land of Covid, I got clarity on what I wanted my next step in life to be about: Serving the Public. I took a big leap of faith and started the race towards last night’s election for Public School Trustee in WARD G. There are people to thank who were essential on the wonderful roller coaster ride that has been the last 8 weeks since filling my papers at City Hall. To the 38 people who stepped up and signed my nomination papers, I am grateful to you all. Thanks to Betty G. who came along to City Hall and took my first official campaign photo.
To the unbelievable help of the Amazing Mr. Troy Funk who just jumped on board and kept using the word “we” that calmed me every time. Troy, you made things real, you made COPY appear out of nowhere and made me look good (let alone the lawn signs and door hangers you got out there). We were a mighty team of two and we pulled off a miracle if you ask me (with help of Andrea at Acupuncture Works who kept me aligned and grounded).
To Darrin Hagen for a great photoshoot at The Meadows Rec Centre that was a joy, even with the sun in my eyes. To that first friend (nameless only because I wasn’t sure he wanted the fame) that just stepped up and said, “ how can I help, Heather” and he meant how do I get you some money for your campaign. To other dear friends that answered my call for donations – you made it possible for a self-employed artist to be a contender. To my old friends from far and away that posted here and there, who talked about me to neighbours and family and helped get my name out there – I may never know all the work you did yet I am grateful all the same. To Brenda O’D that gave great advice and inspired me to push forward. To my neighbour Gina that kindly said she would take on my social media. Thanks to my four wee friends (10yrs and under) that I hope will dream about running for office, after dropping fliers at doorsteps. To Sandra at Scona Copy that turned things around in a blink of an eye. And for my buddy Linda that got those fliers out in Ottewell when I knew I could not be in all places at one time. For those I ought not to have forgotten but have in the early hours of the morning after – I am grateful for all that you did.
And in the end, it truly comes down to the people of WARD G that literally opened their doors to a stranger to chat about Public Education. To all the folks that asked tough questions that I joyously answered – you confirmed for me that I wanted the job and that I would be great at it. It was a profound joy to meet you all and connect. I learned by the end what I knew in the beginning I truly want to be a Public Servant and not a politician. Thanks to all 3,844 Edmontonians that went to the polls and voted for me, I am so very grateful and you made my 94 yr old mother (who started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse at the age of 17) so very happy that her daughter stepped up and ran for public office.
I believe that running for municipal office is about meeting people face to face and finding out if what you want to get done lines up with what they think needs to get done. It is not about showing your political colours. I ran a campaign that was about me meeting other Edmontonians. I am proud of that.
Finally, for everyone who voted for Public School Trustee in WARD G please know we are living in interesting times and your work is not yet done. Education in Alberta is under attack and sadly that attack is coming from our own provincial government. With a 37% voter turnout last night the other 63% of Edmontonian have basically told the government that Edmontonains DO NOT CARE about Education. You and I both know that is not true. I give my support to Saadiq Sumar, our new Trustee, who will need all of our support to ensure that the Ministry of Education rewrites the draft curriculum. To all those people I spoke to at your doorsteps who were equally concerned about the future of Education in Alberta please let Saadiq know you support him. Saadiq has the tough job of getting our premier to stop portraying Education as a high ticket item that needs to be reduced and starts supporting Education as the INVESTMENT in our futures we know it is. Saadiq will need all of us to take an active role in supporting him to SHIFT our government and secure the future of high-quality education for all. I am ready to give him that support and ask those who voted for me to support Saadiq as well. We will need to move our feet, our hands, and our hearts to make sure the government shifts.
Go SAADIQ GO!
With profound gratitude and tired feet… THANK YOU.
Heather D. Swain
ABOUT HEATHER: Valuing education is in my DNA. I come from generations of teachers. My mother was a teacher, as was her mother, as was her mother before her. My sister recently retired after a career as a teacher and principal. The nightly conversations at our dinner table always reinforced the essential role education plays in creating a strong, healthy society and citizenship.
My mother’s answer to all the tough questions of the world has always been, “EDUCATION!”
I agree wholeheartedly.
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