Two districts of school board trustee candidates agree to scrap signs

Photo by Rick Couper.

The city will have even less signage posted during the election now that two districts of public school board trustees have decided not to use signs as part of their campaigning.

The candidates running for public school board trustee (English) positions in both the ‘Countryside, Pittsburgh & Frontenac Islands’ and ‘Loyalist-Cataraqui, Collins-Bayridge & Lakeside’ districts will not be buying or posting signs as part of the 2018 municipal election. (The districts for school board trustees consist of two or more combined districts within Kingston and the Islands.) The two districts have a combined total of five candidates running for the two school board trustee positions. And all of them agreed it was an easy choice to make.

Spurred by the recent news that the candidates in the Portsmouth District running for city council will not be using signs during the election, Christine Innocente decided to reach out to the trustee candidates aligned with the #TRUSTee movement in the area to see if they might want to do the same. The #TRUSTee hashtag is used by those who believe that school board trustees should: put education first; remain accountable to the electorate, and; create and support the transparency they feel past boards have lacked. Seven trustee candidates running in the Kingston election have publically aligned with the #TRUSTee movement.

Innocente reached out to Billy-Jo Hollywood who is running in the Countryside, Pittsburgh & Frontenac Islands district, and Paul Smith in the Loyalist-Cataraqui, Collins-Bayridge & Lakeside district. For Hollywood, the decision to scrap signs from the campaign was a simple one.

“Signs are expensive. Put money where the money could be used in much better places and a much more personal effect,” Hollywood said, adding that signs are an eyesore and not environmentally friendly.

Smith echoed Hollywood when he explained his reasons to forgo election signs.

“I believe that they are of limited value, and what value they offer is offset by the level to which they clutter the landscape, and intrude upon people’s viewscapes during an election.  I plan to reach out to people personally, and through digital media, to have dialogue with them about their education concerns,” he said.

“Lawn signs cost money. I’d rather use that money in support of campaign efforts that encourage two-way communication.”

Smith explained how he and his fellow candidates in the Loyalist-Cataraqui, Collins-Bayridge & Lakeside district came to this agreement.

“Once the list of candidates was determined, we connected with each other in anticipation that it might be useful to have an open line of communication as we headed into the election. Through this open line, we shared an article that told of candidates who had agreed that they would not use election signs,” he said.

“We checked in with each other, and agreed that we would like to take the same approach to the election.”

Trustee candidate Peter Dendy (Loyalist-Cataraqui, Collins-Bayridge & Lakeside district) credited Smith for taking the initiative to bring the ‘no signage’ concept to the table, and said his personal thoughts on the issue align with those of his fellow candidate.

“Without an incumbent in this area, we are on a level footing without them,” Dendy said of the signs.

“Of course, it will be important for us to bring our messages and raise awareness through other means, as using signs is a long held method in Ontario to help engage the public in the democratic process.”

Smith and Dendy’s fellow Loyalist-Cataraqui, Collins-Bayridge & Lakeside district candidate Judith Brown agreed with her opponents for the trustee position, and underlined the environment aspect of the decision.

“I feel it a responsible move as the signs are made of plastic and, given the reports of plastic and their damaging nature to our environment, it is a sound ecological move. I also like the idea that it is an economical move,” said Brown.

“[And] it is better to interact with electors through person to person contact and social media.”

And Hollywood’s fellow trustee candidate in the Countryside, Pittsburgh & Frontenac Islands district, Bob Godkin, said the decision to go sign-less was one based not only on the environmental aspect, but also on the concept of leadership.

“I think particularly in the case of the school board trustee race, it sends the correct message to the students,” he said.

“I was very happy that my opponent shares those values.”



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