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Q & A: We've got ourselves an election; get involved

January 17, 2017 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: How does this election stuff work? Can any teacher run for Provincial Executive Council or do you have to have local experience?

Answer: In general, an active or ­associate member may be a candidate for provincial office. In fact, to hold office in any ATA position you need to be an active or associate member. The Teaching Profession Act requires this, although the General Bylaws can further expand on membership.

Active members are teachers employed by public and separate school boards, excepting the superintendent of schools or central office teachers who opted out of ATA membership.

Generally, associate members are teachers who can’t be active members and who ­acquire what is essentially a professional membership, and typically include superintendents, charter and private school teachers, education professors and other certificate holders. The General Bylaws do introduce some further restrictions.

Given that Provincial Executive Council governs the affairs of the active teaching profession, teachers who are in receipt of an Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund pension are not eligible to run for a position on Council. There is no requirement to have experience in local office to run for Provincial ­Executive Council.

The election to fill positions on the 2017–19 Provincial Executive Council commences this month, with nomination day on Jan 18. The election period will be underway, with voting by electronic ballot scheduled for March 13 to 20. The results of the election will be announced on March 21.

Candidates for table officer positions and district representative positions will be campaigning hard to win the provincial election. You can read the platforms of all candidates in the election issue of the ATA News, and the ATA’s website will include additional information from the candidates. In many parts of Alberta, there will be election forums, and candidates will certainly be soliciting your vote. You can expect to see many candidates at teachers’ conventions, as well.

If you have not yet set up your ATA online account so you can vote, you need to do so to participate in the balloting. (You also need an ATA account to vote for a central table collective agreement, so it’s really important to sign up.)

But you should do more than that. Get involved. Engage with the candidates, and ask them about their platform and their vision of the ATA. It’s a very important democratic process that’s at the heart of your organization. And you decide who serves on Provincial Executive Council.

Teachers elected to Provincial Executive Council take office on July 1 for a two-year term. The 18 teachers elected on March 21 will join past-president Mark Ramsankar on Council, and in my role as executive secretary and chief executive officer, I will continue to serve as a non-voting member.

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House.

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