École Cleveland Elementary participated in the Student Vote program, designed to help educate youth on elections and the voting system. | Mina Kerr-Lazenby
By Mina Kerr, North Shore News.
What if children ruled the world? One thing for certain is that the locals of West and North Vancouver could be facing a very different political landscape.
On Friday (Oct. 21), schools across the North Shore took part in Student Vote, a program run by CIVIX in collaboration with Elections Canada. Designed to impart political knowledge to the younger generation, it saw high school students turn classrooms into polling stations and don the hats of greeter, usher, voting clerk, scrutineer, voting officer and the voters themselves.
École Cleveland Elementary, whose Grade 5/6 classroom had been abuzz with excitement on Friday afternoon, had ran a tight voting operation that led to a mock result of Mathew Bond being elected as mayor, with 68 votes to Mike Little's 18.
The win shouldn't have come as much of a surprise to teachers or parents: Making up much of the hubbub on Friday afternoon had been plenty of miniature activists vocally championing Bond.
Perhaps his popularity had been a result of his visit to the school earlier in the week, or perhaps it was because the two-term councillor was, in the words of 10-year-old student Stevie, "smart and young."
Other students had praised him for his advocacy for housing affordability, including 10-year-old poll worker Rose, who was quick to point out how "houses in Vancouver are really expensive."
Grade 5/6 teacher Jeremy Flack had expected the result. Bond, he said, "gave a very compelling presentation" and did a "great job" of explaining why he was running for mayor.
Bond had been the majority favourite across the District of Vancouver as a whole. In total, 1,838 students cast ballots from 15 schools in the area, and Bond was elected mayor with 59 per cent of vote – 1,057 votes compared to Little's 721 – while candidates Jordan Back, Trey Bell, Betty Forbes, Jim Hanson, Herman Mah and Lisa Muri had been elected to council.
However in reality, Bond lost out to Little, who was re-elected as mayor of the District of North Vancouver following the count of unofficial votes late on Saturday evening. It had been a close margin though, with Little winning by 51 per cent of the vote, and those elected to council did include Jordan Back, Jim Hanson, Lisa Muri and Betty Forbes.
Newly elected to council were Catherine Pope and Herman Mah, taking seats left by Bond and Megan Curren.
Over in the City of North Vancouver, which saw the likes of St. Edmund's school, Ecole Larson Elementary and Bodwell High School participate, the results were more akin to the real deal. Linda Buchanan, who has been elected as mayor for the second time in a row, won the school vote with 315 votes, and the real vote with 5,275.
Guy Heywood, her sole challenger, trailed behind on both, with 147 votes in the school polls, and 3,925 votes in the official polls.
Meanwhile in the schools of West Vancouver, former council member Marcus Wong beat incumbent Mary-Ann Booth to the post with 279 votes to 226. Others vying for mayor, Mark Sager and real estate agent Teresa De Cotiis, had amassed 136 and 49 votes.
It provides an interesting contrast to the actual district results, which saw Mark Sager claim the top spot with 6,082 votes, besting Booth who finished with 2,833, Wong who garnered 2,436, and De Cotiis, who brought in just 80 votes.
Flack said teachers often struggle making "abstract" or "adult" concepts meaningful to students, but the Student Vote program had them engaged and actually excited about the election process. They "loved it," he said, and had learned that making an informed decision is not easy – nor should it be.
"In our debrief, I really stressed the importance of taking the time to research each and every candidate: their goals, values and how those elements align with their own perspectives and what they feel is important in their community," he said.
"My hope is that they developed a real sense of how important our responsibility to vote is."