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School District 46 Electoral Area 1 candidate: Jay O’Keefe

Election day is Dec. 9
Jay O'Keefe, one of the Trustee candidates in the coming by-election

Two candidates are running for the Trustee Electoral Area 1 (Upper) seat in School District No. 46.

With less than two weeks from voting day, Coast Reporter reached out to the candidates, to learn about them and their campaigns.

Advanced polling begins Nov. 29 and voting day is Dec. 9.

Jay O’Keefe

Jay O’Keefe has spent the last 40 years working in arts and music, with an emphasis on theatre. O’Keefe was the vice president of IATSE Local 118, a trade organization representing the theatre and stage technicians in Vancouver, where he learned skills related to contract development, policy procedure development and labour relations.

A father of two currently in the school system, O’Keefe said his previous work had led him to feel he would succeed as a trustee. 

“I feel that it's just one of those areas where I can be of greatest service to others, just have the ability to maximize my efforts and skills for the greater good of everyone here on the Sunshine Coast.”

O’Keefe said his familiarity and interest with the complexities of acts and legislation, along with his strong background in representing employee groups makes him an ideal candidate.

“Having worked in the arts, every day is a collaborative effort, so you have to find ways to communicate with people and get the result that's needed,” he said.

Current issues the school district faces that are of high importance to O’Keefe include recruitment and retention of teachers and support staff, and interventions for young children with developmental needs. He noted that the support of older students, such as ones who are living alone under ministry contracts, is also imperative to him. 

O’Keefe also mentioned supporting new families moving to the Coast where English is not their primary language.  “Hopefully, we can find ways to not only support the children so that they can be successful in school, but also support the parents so that they can be better at being their own advocates and be in a better position to understand what can be offered through the school system.”

Having spent his life immersed in the arts, O’Keefe said he knows how important music and art is to a life of learning and how important they are to developing lifelong skills.

“Having a strong art and a strong music program, that's another avenue to really be able to see when kids are going to need support, and how we can do that,” O’Keefe said. “That would be something that, I personally have a strong interest in.” He calls music “the ultimate team sport.”

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.