Bios: Richmond's school trustee candidates

As part of our election coverage, the Richmond News asked all trustee candidates to introduce themselves by submitting a 170-word bio. They were asked to include their name, party and occupation as well as tell us why they were running and list the key issues they would focus on, if elected.

Here are the candidates for Richmond's school board: 

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Charvine Adl

Charvine Adl

Party: Independent (Parents’ Slate)

Occupation: Chartered professional accountant

Why are you running for office: My child’s experience in the public school system has shown me that teachers face challenges in delivering the core curriculum and has exposed us to some inadequate facilities.  I have also done a great deal of research and have been involved with SOGI since its introduction. I believe that my professional skills and experience with education can help resolve these issues.

Key issues in this election:

1) Support teachers in delivering core academics first and foremost.

2) Speed up the earthquake-proofing of Richmond schools and ensure that students have access to safe facilities and a healthy environment.

3) Change the SOGI policy to respect the rights of parents, restore free speech and protect teachers and students from discipline based on ideology.

 

Sergio Arrambide

Sergio Arrambide

Party: Independent

Occupation: Works with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and volunteers with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation

Why are you running for office: Sergio Arrambide loves being a father. He and his wife have two boys and one girl. He is here because education is important for all of them.

Sergio wants to contribute with his skills to balance the interests of children, parents, and teachers. As an independent candidate, he is willing to listen and work together with parents, children, teachers, and unions; taking your interests into consideration.

 Sergio brings a new perspective and feels a real connection with parents coming to school for the first time.

 “My first child is coming to school and I know what parents go through”

 Mr. Arrambide graduated with a Master of International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University in 2017 and received the Recognition of the 2018 Summer Institute for Future Legislators from UBC.

Key issues in this election:

1) Empowerment, inclusion of women

2) Family values

3) Children safety

 

Rod Belleza

Rod Belleza

Party: Richmond Community Coalition

Occupation: Financial advisor and lawyer (Philippines)

Why are you running for office: I am running for public office because of my passion for community service and public service.

I believe that community service is our best gift to humanity. 

Three key issues you would focus on if elected:

Key issues in this election:

1) Underfunding of our public schools:  We cannot provide the best quality education unless we adequately and properly fund our public education. Our children deserve to have the best quality education. 

2) School safety:  Safety upgrades should be done. Acts of discrimination and bullying will not be tolerated.  The rights of everybody under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms shall be enforced.

3) City centre school:  Prepare a plan to address catchment issues and the need for a city centre school

 

 

Jeff Danis

Jeff Danis

 

Party: Richmond Education Party             

Occupation: Senior consultant and partner

Why are you running for office: I am running for the position of school trustee. Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, I moved to B.C. in 1989. I have been a Richmond resident since 2002. Over the years, our family has been involved with numerous community sports which has allowed me to take an active role, volunteering, coaching and a board member. 

Professionally, I spent 27 years in the industrial sector, before transitioned into HR and recruitment. I am currently a business owner, with a focus on the B.C. market.

Key issues in this election:

1) To be an ambassador for Richmond’s educational programs with the commitment that identified needs that are voiced to government.

2) To assure that teachers, students and parents are all working together to strive for better programs and resources. 

3) I work with people from all walks of life in my career. I feel that my back ground and experience would be an asset to the school board.  It would be an honour and privilege to serve as one of Richmond’s school trustees.

 

Norm Goldstein

Norm Goldstein

Party: Richmond First

Occupation: Mathematician

Why are you running for office: I have a passion for education, and to give back to the community where I raised my family.

I served on the Richmond School Board during 2011-14, and know that a trustee is responsible for financial soundness, district policies, advocacy, transparent governance and consulting with stakeholders.  In addition, I feel a need to address the availability of parent choice in our district, as well as to fine tune our education model with respect to integration of all learning abilities in classrooms and meeting the specific needs of all learning abilities and interests.  For example, addressing special needs students is essential, as well as addressing highly motivated students, offering, say, incentive programs, both at the catchment and district levels.

Safety and acceptance is an important aspect of inclusion, which I wholly support. 

The SOGI policy is well-founded, applies to all students, and addresses the well-documented needs of a vulnerable segment of our student population. 

I fully support the implementation of this policy.

 

Andrea Gong-Quinn

Andrea Gong-Quinn

Party: Independent (Parents’ Slate)

Occupation: Self-employed

Why are you running for office: To participate and contribute to our education system as a parent with a child currently attending public school

Three key issues in this election:

1) Advocate school developments in the city centre and facility upgrades of schools in need.  We need to work with the city and province to provide sufficient resources for our school.

2) The recently passed SOGI policy has divided our diversified multicultural community.  Parents felt they were not involved enough in the process of making or implementing the policy and are concerned about promoting gender fluidity to students at a vulnerable age can cause great confusion.  A constructive way is to engage the parents and teachers to review and make amendments to it. Every student deserves to feel comfortable at school and be protected regardless of their beliefs of LGBT+ or heterosexual. 

3) Prohibit any marihuana-related product and in and nearby school area.  

 

Ken Hamaguchi

Ken Hamaguchi

Party: Richmond Education Party

Occupation: Autism/behaviour consultant and minor hockey administrator

Why are you running for office: I am running because I believe I have a lot to offer the school district (experience and education), and I’ve always told my kids that everyone needs to give back to their community

Key issues in this election:

 Student safety - seismic upgrading of buildings and ensuring all schools have appropriate emergency management supplies

Student facilities - explore all options before deciding to build a new city centre school

Student programs - we need to look at providing more programs/services to students with mental health issues

SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Program - monitor the new policy to ensure that it is working and meeting its objectives

 

Heather Larson

Heather Larson

Party: Richmond Education Party             

Occupation: Customer service

Why are you running for office: After 19 years of experience with the district, I hope to bring another perspective to the board, and there isn’t a better place to work.

Key issues in this election:

Safety (emotional and physical)

Increase mental health support. Listen and advocate until we get the answers and support we need.

Implementation of SOGI (provide the educator training resources and needed support for ALL district staff) monitoring of the policy which includes staying involved.

Teacher and EA shortage; we need to strongly advocate and be creative in our thinking. We need to support the teachers and EAs in order to ensure safe, inclusive healthy schools.

Equity in schools for earthquake preparedness! It’s appalling that there are schools with the needed supplies and others without.

Disaster training (although difficult) is crucial in a time of panic.

It might be worthwhile to revisit the ‘pilot disaster plan’ done at Lord Byng years ago.

 

Richard Lee

Richard Lee

Party: Independent (Parents’ Slate)

Occupation: Lawyer

Why are you running for office: I aspire to serve because, as an experienced trustee (last served in Burnaby 05-08), as a lawyer helping my clients, I served and will serve with understanding, integrity and hard work.  As your trustee, I will hold myself accountable to you.  It bears repeating, the next generation is our future, that’s why I am running as trustee.

Three key issues in this election:

1) We need a school in the city centre in two years and we need seismic upgrades to all at-risk schools (four targeted, 24 more to go); 

2) Work with the City of Richmond to make schools more accessible to our community groups after school hours (childcare) and work with Victoria to bring more resources for our students (programs and lunch for hungry kids) and for our teachers (education assistants and related professionals)

3) We must work with our parents when bringing on new ideas and implementing changes to our school system

 

James Li

James Li

Party: Independent (Parents’ Slate)

Occupation: Child care teacher/travel consultant

Why are you running for office: I have been a longtime Richmond resident and volunteer. As a child care teacher, I have worked with children in daycare in Richmond for many years. I also worked with children with special needs. My child is in a Richmond public school.  I am running for school trustee because I care about the education of my child and children in community.

Three key issues in this election:

1) Improve academic education. I have master degree from one of the top universities in the world. I expect Richmond schools build strong academic foundation for children and adults in lifetime learning.

2) Enhance family’s involvement in the school system. I believe effective communication is essentially important.

3) SOGI policy. The recently passed SOGI policy failed to address the concern of parents: Inclusiveness for all children and protecting all children in school community. I believe it need to be reviewed and revised.

 

Jason Zhen Ning Li

Jason Li

Party: Independent

Editor’s note: Li did not respond to the Richmond News’ request for information.

 

Keith Liedtke

Keith Liedtke

Party: Richmond Community Coalition  

Occupation: Realtor

Why are you running for office: As a proud resident of Richmond, I enjoy giving back to the city that has been good to me, serving as a director on numerous Richmond not-for-profit boards. I would like to take my governance experience, and focus on our most important asset – our children’s education – the children are our future!

Three key issues in this election:

1) The safety of our children, teachers, and support workers is of paramount importance. If elected, I will do everything possible to advocate for more funds from the provincial government to be used to have more schools approved for seismic upgrading.

2) The rapid construction of new condo towers in our city’s centre, has created a huge need for a new City Centre school. If elected, I will push for a strategy to source land and secure approval for funding the construction of a new City Centre school.

3) If elected, I promise to listen to the concerns of all school district stakeholders (parents, students, teachers and support workers) with respect.

 

Sandra Nixon

Sandra Nixon

Party: Richmond Education Party

Occupation: School trustee/ordained minister

Why are you running for office: Public education is vital to the wellbeing of our community. Offering my time and skills to help ensure our children receive the best education possible is the best investment I can make in my community and its future!

Key issues in this election:

School facilities/student safety: Seismic and other school upgrades to address issues like lead in water.

Full public consultation on schools and catchments, including City Centre.

Earthquake preparedness — equip all schools, update manuals, staff training.

Classrooms, teachers and programs: support teachers with updated resources and technology; funding to create more engaging and inspiring classrooms and learning spaces such as outdoor classrooms; address teacher and EA shortages; more specialty programs.

Student wellness and mental health: Inclusive school environments where all students feel a sense of belonging; implement the new SOGI policy; expand mindfulness programs; more programs for vulnerable students.

 

Rahim Othman

Rahim Othman

Party: Richmond Community Coalition

Occupation: Program manager

Why are you running for office: To bring harmony, balance and action to the school community in Richmond.

Key issues in this election:

Children and staff safety is of utmost priority. My priority is to put forward an expedited plan (and mitigation plan) for all schools that require seismic upgrade.

Building on RCC Trustee Jonathan Ho’s success with introducing financial literacy in schools, working with teachers and schools. I will partner with non-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions to teach the technical and entrepreneurial skills that will prepare our children to succeed in the real world as well as programs about nature, farming and sustainable environment.

Implement a multilingual 24/7 anti-bullying and mental health hotline for children, school staff, and parents in partnership with organizations like Vancouver Coastal Health.

Put programs and events in place to encourage and support school staff, parents and youth to embrace multiculturalism and engage positively in civic issues.

 

Ivan Pak

Ivan Pak

Party: Independent (Parents’ Slate)

Occupation: IT consultant

Why are you running for office: To serve our community by dedicating my experience and passion to the education system. I encourage parents to participate in our schools, and be positive and courageous to any new challenges in regard to our children’s education.

I also believe an effective communication platform between parents and school officials is very essential. Communication keeps us connected, helps us understand each other, helps us to respect our differences, and most importantly keeps us together in the community. If I am elected, I will work with our school officials, students, parents and other school trustees to build a safe, inclusive, professional education system!

Key issues in this election:

School safety: Prohibit cannabis products in schools, establish workshops for students to understand how cannabis will affect their health.

Continue support of special needs students, and their family by allocating more resources to schools.

Encourage parent engagement in our education system, such as the discussions of district policy implementation.

 

Harv Puni

Harv Puni

Party: Richmond Community Coalition  

Occupation: Professional master of ceremonies

Why are you running for office: I am beyond excited to be running for school trustee.  Being born and raised in Richmond, I have seen all kinds of changes, but will always cherish the amazing years I spent in this school system.  I consider myself blessed to have spent 41 years in the most beautiful little city on Earth.

Now I’d like to help ensure that my two boys receive the same quality education and school experience I enjoyed.

Key issues in this election:

 I will try to ensure that our schools not only receive the proper funding, but use those funds the right way.  Our students should have a variety of elective courses available to them.  

Every student should feel safe and accepted at all times.  Their mental health should always be a priority. And the growing gaps should be bridged between students, teachers, parents, administrators, support staff, trustees and city council.  

We owe this to our students.

 

Karina Reid

Karina Reid

Party: Richmond Education Party

Occupation: Sales manager

Why are you running for office: To provide equitable educational opportunities for all Richmond children. As a mother of two, I’m passionate about education and our community.

Three key issues in this election:

1) Ensuring student safety by keeping on top of the seismic upgrades needed in our Richmond schools. Working on advocating for funding to have emergency preparedness supplies in all Richmond schools. We need a reunification plan implemented and practised for school staff to carry out their role in the school’s emergency plan. Creating an Emergency Preparedness Standing Committee within the Richmond School District to ensure accountability and priorities.

2) Working on implementing the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy that will help ensure there are teaching and learning resources for parents, students and staff.

3) Resourcing and supporting parents of children with special needs; and more focus on mental health programs. Working on transforming more classrooms into innovative, inspiring, engaging environments including more outdoor classrooms.

 

Donna Sargent

Donna Sargent

Party: Richmond First

Occupation: Trustee/BCSTA director/Maples director

Why are you running for office: I believe my knowledge, passion and integrity are needed to ensure we continue to make public education better for kids.

Three key issues in this election:

1) Seismic: The recommendations in the Long Range Facilities Plan need to be pulled out and have a collaborative process about the current and future needs.  We must continue to strongly advocate for capital funding to ensure our schools are safe environments for our students/ staff.

2) Funding: The Ministry of Education is currently in a Funding Review Process and it is essential we are involved to share the needs of our community. 

3) Inclusive environments: Every student is entitled to and must have a safe, caring environment in which they can learn, grow and be successful. Each student comes with their very own way of being which should be celebrated and supported.

Working with our partner groups and our provincial association (BCSTA), of which I have served as a director for four years, is key to ensuring we have the highest quality public education.

 

Andrew Scallion

Andrew Scallion

Party: Richmond Education Party

Occupation: Hettich Canada (Distribution sales and training coordinator, Western Canada)

Why are you running for office: A Richmond resident for nearly 20 years, I have two children in elementary and my wife has been an educational assistant in Richmond since 1992.

I was PAC chair William Bridge Elementary, six years and vice-president, Richmond District Parents Association (RPDA), three years.

RDPA has allowed me the opportunity to meet with and understand the issues faced by PACs and parents in all of our schools.

I’ve served on district committees including Policy 100, Code of Conduct, Calendar and Lockdown. I have an excellent working relationship with senior staff and all district stakeholder groups.

Key issues in this election:

As a passionate supporter of public education, I plan to bring that passion to the Richmond Board of Education as a trustee. I will work hard to increase student safety through seismic remediation and enhanced earthquake preparedness in our district, increased supports for mental health and continue to ensure that all students in Richmond feel welcome, included and safe in our schools.

 

Jeffrey Smith

Jeffrey Smith

Party: Independent

Occupation: Post-secondary teacher/instructor

Why are you running for office: To ensure that our children are provided education that helps them become successful and build strong inclusive communities

Three key issues in this election:

1) Supporting Incentive and other accelerated learning programs. I believe we owe it to our children to maintain these programs that challenge them academically and physically, providing those tools for success. Staffing to appropriate levels are key.

2) I fully support the policies of SOGI in our school systems. I used to work at UBC for the AMS Student Society and we had tackled this issue several years ago by ensuring gender neutral washrooms in the UBC Student Union Building and adopting SOGI-like policies regarding language in communicating with students.

3) I believe that funding for technology should be ongoing in order to improve the learning of all students and also giving teachers a better tool in providing instruction more effectively and efficiently

 

Debbie Tablotney

Tablotney

Party: Independent

Occupation: Richmond insurance broker/ Richmond school trustee 14 years

Why are you running for office: I want bring my experience back to the board to ensure all voices in the community are included in school district consultation processes and to continue ongoing and enhanced support for learning challenges, fine arts and specialized programs. I will continue to make student-centered decisions with passion, integrity and understanding.

Three key issues in this election:

1) Overseeing the planning, execution and construction of facilities. Over the years, my experience has helped me understand the complexities of long-range facilities planning needed to move the district forward into consultation with the community, stakeholders and the ministry.

2) It is important to foster a sense of belonging and support respect for diversity for all students, staff and families in the district. Ensuring all voices in the community are included in school district consultation processes. 

3) Focus on mental and physical wellbeing services for vulnerable youth.

Re-elect an experienced leader with passion, integrity and understanding.

 

Grace Tsang

Grace Tsang

Party: Richmond Community Coalition

Occupation: Certified financial planner

Why are you running for office: As an immigrant who has benefited from B.C. public education, being able to serve on the Richmond School Board is one way I can give back to our society. 

Key issues in this election:

Inadequate ministry funding: I will work with the BC School Trustees Association and stakeholders to advocate for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding to support public education programs to ensure students’ success. 

Safe and healthy schools: I will ensure that the Richmond School Board will work closely with the Ministry of Education to monitor and complete all seismic upgrade projects.

I will collaborate with our community partners to support initiatives for both physical and mental wellness for students, teachers and staff. I will support implementation of policies and programs which contribute to the safe and healthy growth and development of our students, promoting mutual respect and peace in the school. 

I will work with the ministry and city council to build a City Centre school to ensure that students, who live within the area, can attend their neighbourhood school. 

 

Sharon Wang

sharon wang
Party: Independent

Occupation: Registered nurse

Why are you running for office: For kids, for children-centered education

Three key issues in this election:

1) Promote an overall, more positive, inclusive culture in Richmond public schools to support each individual child and to improve all learners’ physical and psychological health and well-being; involve the parents as the partner in child’s education; encourage open dialogues to develop mutual understandings on topics of interest.

2) Support the developments of educational programs that provide a variety of learning opportunities for children/parents/public, make these programs more accessible, and implement strategies that promote individualized learning/teaching plans based on learning needs. 

3) Upgrade the ageing infrastructure of our schools to ensure the safety, reduce size of over-crowded classes, and support teacher workforce recruitment and retention in Richmond public education system. 

 

Alice S. Wong

Alice S. Wong

Party: Independent

Occupation: School trustee

Why are you running for office: I like to serve the community.  With my 15 years of volunteer experience in the school community and four years of school board experience, I can continue with a second term as school trustee.  Also, I can take part of decision-making for various issues.  I know the needs of our schools, educators and students, and the district’s future challenges with a City Centre school. 

The coming Oct. 17 cannabis legalization is a concern. I requested adding an agenda item at a policy committee meeting to have a proper policy to prevent marijuana access in schools.

Three key issues in this election:

1) My priority is a safe place for staff and students; seismic upgrades are needed for another 27 schools. I will continue to advocate for project funding so that all schools will be completed by 2030.

2) As well as government funding for Emergency Preparedness, I had made a motion at BCSTA Provincial Council.

3) I will continue advocating for classroom enhancement funds for hiring enough teachers for special education and ELL programs.

 

Elsa Wong

Elsa Wong

Party: Richmond First

Occupation: Constituency assistant for Richmond South Centre; real estate marketing assistant

Why are you running for office: I strongly believe that children deserve everything we can provide to build a successful future and it has become my passion and dedication to support them by ensuring they receive a proper education of quality.

I am the President of Canada Asia Pacific Business Association and have lived in Richmond for over 25 years. I believe our children’s future begins with government investing in education. With the mindset of helping young people better prepared for their future, I have established an Apprentice Entrepreneur Team in 2006 and mentored over 400 youths ever since. With my continuous cultivation, many of them have become important parts of the community, while others are furthering their education at universities at home and abroad.

Three key issues in this election:

1) Seismic upgrades to all Richmond schools

2) Accessibility to physical and mental wellness services for students and staff

3) Transparent and accountable governance

 

Eric Yung

Yung

Party: Richmond First

Occupation: Staff scientist, BC Cancer Agency

Why are you running for office: Many initiatives (seismic remediation, inclusive policies) are just starting, and I wish to see them through to completion and be responsible for any changes needed.

Key issues in this election:

The  new  curriculum  has  exciting  possibilities,  but  also  must  be  carefully  managed  to  ensure  the  best  outcomes  for  our  students,  not  just  change  for  the  sake  of  change. 

There  will  also  be  changes  to  the  school  district’s  facilities  over  the  next  few  years  due  to  declining  enrollment,  seismic  remediation  and  changing  district  needs  which  will  also  need  careful  consideration  and  consultation.

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