Ryan Clayton confirmed today that he will not be running for the Vancouver School Board, citing personal health reasons.
“It’s mostly private, but, yeah, it’s health related,” the 24-year-old says. “It’s nothing that anyone needs to worry about, but it’s enough that I thought it’d be best for myself to not run in this election.”
In February the openly gay education activist announced his intention to run for the Vancouver School Board as a Vision Vancouver candidate in the municipal election this autumn.
“It wasn’t an easy decision at all. I’m pretty miserable about it, but it was a decision I had to make due to a downturn in my health,” says Clayton, who did not specify the nature of his health issue.
Vision Vancouver executive director Ian Baillie says the party was notified of Clayton’s intentions on either Wednesday or Thursday and that they have already found a candidate to take his place at tomorrow’s nomination meeting. He won’t name the replacement candidate at this time.
“These things do happen,” says Baillie. “This is not unheard of that candidates sometimes have to remove themselves from being a candidate for a lot of personal or business-related issues. Obviously we’re sad to see Ryan having to go for personal reasons, but at the same time, these things happen, life happens. I think this is one of those cases where he has to, obviously, focus on himself at this point, and politics is a very demanding and time-consuming business.”
Gay Councillor Tim Stevenson, who says he encouraged Clayton to run, is disappointed that he’s dropping out of the race.
“I have been in contact with him via email, and he returned an email to me telling me that his health nosedived in the last couple of weeks,” says Stevenson. “I think he anticipates sometime in the future getting back involved, but obviously you have to watch out for your health first, so I’m supportive of him for him doing what he needs to do for his health.”
Clayton says he doesn’t know if he wants to run again in the future but does not rule it out.
“I think there’s some issues that won’t get the focus that I would have brought to it, but in the time I’ve been out there I’ve made clear what I think is important and I can still follow up,” he says.
Stevenson feels this will be a loss for the school board and the gay community.
“I think it’s a loss for the queer community because I believe he would be very good on the school board, and he certainly brings a unique perspective with the work he’s been doing in the school that’ll be missed,” Stevenson says.
Clayton is already thinking of ways to support the school board and Vision Vancouver as a member of the community rather than a candidate.
“I’m still supporting them, especially supporting the school board team, because I believe they will do a really good job with the issues that I have brought up,” he says. “I do wish I could be a part of that team, but it’s just one of those things in life that didn’t work out.”