A new slate of candidates is running for Delta school board.
Trustee Rhiannon Bennett is seeking re-election and has formed a new slate of “strong women to advocate and bring a wider breadth of voices to the table,” Bennett told the Reporter last month.
Delta Voices is comprised of Bennett, education assistant Andrea Hilder and Paromita (Mita) Naidu, director of development and communications at WISH Drop-In Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
A formal announcement is expected early next week, but the group has quietly launched a website (deltavoices.ca) outlining the candidates’ priorities for the coming term.
The slate’s stated goals include improving playgrounds and tracks, connecting families, students and educators, and putting “equity into practice,” according to the slate’s website.
The candidates also plan to advocate for students and recognize the diverse needs of the student population; build better relationships with community, local businesses, the province, other school boards and the City of Delta; bring about broader public awareness and input, and greater accountability from trustees; and support all students, staff and teachers and provide them better access and opportunities.
All three candidates have been officially endorsed by the New Westminster & District Labour Council as candidates to support, according to the slate’s website.
Bennett was first elected to Delta school board in 2014. Previous to her time as trustee, Bennett worked for the Musqueam Indian Band as a family outreach worker, and has also been an Aboriginal education enhancement support worker in the Richmond School District.
She volunteers with a number of community organizations including the Pulling Together Canoe Society, Ladner Fishermen’s Hall Co-op, Delta Secondary Alumni Basketball Tournament, an inter-community hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language revitalization committee, and founded the Musqueam Pulling Together Canoe Club. Bennett has also served as the vice-president of the Ladner Girls Soccer Association.
Bennett is Musqueam and was raised in Ladner.
Hilder is education assistant (on-call in Delta and permanent part-time in Richmond) and is pursuing her instructor diploma at Vancouver Community College, with hopes of teaching in an EA program and facilitating professional development workshops on reconciliation with First People.
Hilder is a second-generation Detla resident and lives in Tsawwassen with her son.
In addition to her work at WISH, Naidu sits on several boards including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and, until recently, the City of Vancouver’s cultural communities advisory committee. She previously held positions on the boards of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, the Indian Summer Festival and the Diwali Celebration Society.
Naidu was born in Kolkata, India, but grew up in Canada. A single mother of two, she lives in North Delta.
Delta Voices is the third slate of candidates to announce their intention to run in the civic election.
Current board chair Laura Dixon, trustee Nick Kanakos and district PAC chair Joe Muego are running on the Independents Working for You slate lead by mayoral candidate and former Delta Police chief Jim Cessford.
Kids Matter, a slate made up of incumbent trustee Bruce Reid, Richmond school teacher Victor Espinoza and Randy Anderson-Fennell, an electrician who works in the Surrey School District, threw their hat into the ring in early July.
Delta school board vice-chair Val Windsor told the Reporter that she intends to run as an independent candidate for trustee, but has yet to make a formal announcement.
Five-term trustee Fabian Milat announced on June 12 that he will not be seeking another term, freeing up one the seven seats on the board for someone new.
No word yet on whether trustee Dale Saip intends to run again.