It is hard to keep up with the number of candidates vying for mayor and city council. In a world of limited resources — and limited attention spans — the school board trustee races tend to get little attention.
Given that, Donna Blackburn is determined not to be lost in the pack. Blackburn — a lesbian and a mother — has been actively involved with education since her daughter entered the school system. She has since sat on various school councils, including at Barrhaven Public School, Cedarview Middle School, the Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils and the Barrhaven Consolidated School Council.
“As a mother, I wanted to be involved with my daughter’s education, so I joined the school council at Barrhaven Public School. We know that children whose parents who are involved in their children’s education tend to do better than children whose parents aren’t,” says Blackburn.
Her interest in the education system has expanded to policy and a larger concern for the educational needs of children in the Ottawa area. Blackburn is now running for the position of school board trustee in Zone Three — the Barrhaven/Knoxdale-Merivale area.
“I am putting my name on the ballot and the people of Barrhaven, Knoxdale and Merrivale will decide who the trustees should be,” says Blackburn.
This will be the second time that Blackburn has put her name forward as a nominee for the board. In 2009, a position was left vacant when trustee Alex Getty passed away. Trustees elected Mark Fisher to represent Zone Three until the next election.
The race for Zone Three is now wide open after Fisher decided to run in the zone where he lives, leaving three in Barrhaven: Blackburn, Alan Halfper and Ismail Mohamed.
“I just want to make sure that the school board is run in such a way that as many kids as [possible] get a good education,” says Blackburn. “The fact that I live in Canada, one of the most prosperous countries in the world and the fact that our goal as a school board is to graduate 90 percent of students — I think that goal should be 100 percent.”
Blackburn is optimistic and is willing to get right to work with the other members of the board to get the job done.
“I work shoulder to shoulder with people. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty,” says Blackburn. “I do the work, get in the trenches with the people, and I go to the meetings and I do the policy.”
Blackburn is a woman who lives by what she says. In the past year, she popped 5,000 bags of popcorn at Barrhaven Public School in support of the school council. And that kind of work ethic has made her eerily confident.
“I will be elected,” says Blackburn.