Former Airdrie City councillor and small business owner Fred Burley is adding his name to the race for a Rocky View Schools (RVS) trustee position in the upcoming municipal election.
“I know it’s a trite saying – but there’s nothing more important than the youth,” he said. “And if there’s any other way that I can help, that’s what I want to do.”
Burley said his decision to run for one of Airdrie’s three positions on RVS' Board of Trustees stemmed from a desire to once again become involved in the community after his time on City council. Though he added that following his departure from local government – which occurred in the 2017 election – he still stayed very much involved.
“I think I’ve served on every board that the City could ever have,” he claimed.
According to Burley’s website, he served as the chair of the Municipal Planning Commission, the Rocky View Foundation, and Airdrie Housing Limited while on council. He also was the vice-chair of the Community Services Advisory Board and was involved with Airdrie’s Council Budget Committee and the Emergency Management Advisory Committee.
He also ran for mayor in 2017 and finished third in the race.
“I’ve been involved, and I’ve kept involved, but I see some things that just worry me with what’s happening in the province and downloading costs to the municipalities,” said Burley, who has lived in Airdrie for more than 26 years.
Issues of particular concern to the trustee candidate include the need for more schools in the city, COVID-19 and class sizes, and the new elementary curriculum drafted by the Alberta government earlier this year.
On the topic of the pandemic, Burley said overcrowding in classrooms is contributing to ongoing problems associated with the virus’ spread throughout schools.
“If you’ve got too many kids in the class, you’ve got more issues than you would if you had the proper amount,” he said, adding that it all comes back to funding for schools and infrastructure.
Alberta’s K-6 draft curriculum was released to the public in March. According to the Government of Alberta’s website, the new teaching structure focuses on “essential knowledge” and is founded on four themes: numeracy, literacy, citizenship and practical skills.
The content of the new curriculum has been a point of discussion among parents and educators since its release.
Burley said he is not a fan of the draft curriculum.
“I agree that we need to challenge our youth, but if you deter them from enjoying what they’re doing at the same time, they’re going to fall through the cracks,” he said.
Character, commitment, competency and collaboration are essential to be an effective and efficient leader, according to Burley. He added he considers himself to have these qualities and that the combination of his decades-spanning residence in the city and his extensive municipal and community involvement make him a great fit for the role of a trustee.
“When I make a decision – whether you agree with me or not – you can never question how I made the decision. It’s always from the right place,” he said.
This year, there are six individuals running for three spots representing Airdrie, which falls under Ward 3 in RVS’ jurisdiction. Incumbents Melyssa Bowen and Todd Brand are running for re-election, while other candidates aside from Burley include Aftan Forrest, Jason Spratt, and Pam Thurston.
Ward 3’s other current trustee, Jim Forrest, previously announced that he would not be running for re-election.
Though he hopes to be elected on Oct. 18, Burley said the thing he wants most is for residents to go out and exercise their democratic right.
“Whoever you vote for, get out and vote,” he said. “Do your research, listen, learn, and make a concise, well-thought-out decision and vote.”
The municipal election is set for Oct. 18.