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Byelection candidates are all in

February 9, 2016 Laura Harris, ATA News Staff

Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca was blasting in every nightclub. ­Eaton’s filed for bankruptcy. Jean Chretien was prime minister. The year was 1999 and it was the last time there was a race for the position of district representative (DR) for Edmonton District.

After his win in 1999, Glen Buchan was re-elected by acclamation in 2001. Greg Jeffery followed him as DR from 2003 through to 2013, and Sean Brown served from 2013 until his resignation in October 2015. Neither Jeffrey nor Brown was challenged for the seat during their tenures. 

Brown’s resignation, resulting from his being hired to Association executive staff, opened the door for someone to fill the position left vacant on Provincial Executive Council. Two teachers, Paul Froese and Karen Wilson, have thrown their hats into the ring of the necessitated byelection, effectively ending the span of acclamation in Edmonton District.

Neither candidate, however, cited the need for a contested election as their motivation for running.

Froese said he’s running because he now has the time to give back to the profession and his colleagues.

“The Association has given a lot to me over the years — time to give back,” Froese said. “The best way to do that is to represent hard-working teachers in the classroom who can’t be on the executive, who don’t have time to give back to their local and still need that fair, honest, hard-working representation that the Association provides to every teacher.”

Wilson shares Froese’s sentiment. She believes that the education system needs to change.

“I just felt that once again with the focus coming on collective bargaining and some of the provincial issues coming up, that it was kind of the time to jump back in,” said Wilson. “And to be honest, teacher workload is a big issue for me. … I think teachers and students have evolved, but the system hasn’t and that’s a key factor for me. I think the system has to change in order to meet the needs of students and teachers.”

Representing the voices of the members is a major role of a DR. These representatives play a critical role in the governance of the Association by sharing with colleagues on Council the experiences and concerns of the teachers they represent. DRs gather such information by working with the presidents of the ATA locals in their geographic district; attending meetings of local councils of school representatives, ATA specialist councils and ATA committees; and hearing from individual members. The information, knowledge and experience DRs bring to Council directly influence the positions, decisions and actions taken by the Association on issues at provincial, national and international levels.

ATA president Mark Ramsankar encourages teachers in Edmonton District to get their online ATA accounts, learn about Froese and Wilson, and vote in this byelection, not just because it’s the first contested race in the district since 1999, but to ensure they take advantage of the opportunity to participate in a democracy with direct ties to their livelihood.

“What members have to say is heard by Provincial Executive Council because their DR brings their voice to Council,” Ramsankar said. “What is heard by Council informs what the Association takes to the tables of the provincial government, Alberta school boards and other education stakeholders. Our members need to know that by voting they have the opportunity to choose who will give them a voice at some very important tables.” ❚

Get all the information you need on the Edmonton District byelection by clicking the link of the same name in the Information On section of the Association’s website at

Results of the 2016 Edmonton District Byelection will be posted on the ATA’s website and shared through Facebook and Twitter on Feb. 12.

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