RITE Richmond Announces Candidates And Initial Platform For 2014 Municipal Elections
For Immediate Release
August 19, 2014
RICHMOND – The newly-renamed RITE Richmond (formerly Richmond Independent Team of Electors (RITE)) announced today that it will run two candidates for Richmond City Council, Carol Day and Michael Wolfe and three candidates for the Richmond Board of Education, Rod Belleza, Dr. Norm Goldstein and Michael Starchuk, for the 2014 Municipal elections on November 15. All five candidates ran for RITE in the 2011 municipal elections and are dedicated to bringing change to elected office in Richmond.
RITE Richmond also announced the first 5 major planks of their 2014 election platform:, Healthy Business Development, Development Fairness, Campaign Disclosure Reform, Programming Choice for Students and the Child Poverty Battle.
RITE Richmond’s Healthy Business Plan
With over 30 years of volunteer experience in civic issues with a strong business and education background, the RITE Richmond RITE Richmond City Council team will advocate for Healthy Business Development through RITE Richmond’s Healthy Business Plan. This plan supports the fast-tracking of businesses who provide much needed health services and subsequently promote longer, healthier living.
Day, a former School Board trustee, has owned and operated her own sign business, Cat Signs, for 37 years. She previously ran for City Council in 2005 and 2011.
“I am excited about this election,” said Day. “I feel people are ready for some new ideas from people with years of community experience.”
Wolfe, a public school educator and life-long Richmond resident, currently serves on the Richmond Health Advisory Committee.
“After attending the majority council meetings for the past decade, I’ve personally seen what needs to be changed, said Wolfe. “There’s a void in leadership on City Council. Our city councillors have been silent on a lot of important issues.”
RITE Richmond’s Development Action Plan
The RITE Richmond City Council team, riding on decades of experience on rezoning issues, will also advocate for Development Fairness through RITE Richmond’s Development Action Plan. This plan will put mechanisms in place for a greatly improved civic engagement process on rezoning. It also allows for new kinds of zoning and downzoning to maintain the characters of existing Richmond neighbourhoods.
“The RITE Richmond team is committed to changing the status quo and we stand for neighbourhoods,” added Wolfe. “We need to put citizens first, ahead of the needs of a select few. I’m running because I’ve been inspired by ordinary working citizens who are passionate volunteers. These are people who have seen our neighbourhoods under attack and are trying to make their voices heard to a City Council that does not want to listen. We stand to be a voice for those who feel voiceless and to those who have written letters and still don’t feel they’re being heard by this City Council.”
Wolfe has served on the boards of the Richmond Nature Park Society and Garden City Conservation Society. Through a 7-year battle, Day and Wolfe were instrumental in saving the Garden City Lands. They are also staunch, life-long defenders of green space in Richmond. Additionally, Day is the Chair for the Vancouver Airport fuel Project Opposition for Richmond (VAPOR) and has been so since 2011.
RITE Richmond’s Campaign Disclosure Reform Plan
As a major platform plank, RITE Richmond will take the lead with Campaign Disclosure Reform, becoming the first electoral group in Richmond to do so. In this initiative, RITE Richmond will make public all campaign contributions during the election. The group’s bylaws include a clause denying large contributions.
“Gone are the days of waiting until 2015 to learn who you voted for,” added Day. “We challenge the other candidates to change their ways and release to the public their financial disclosures in advance of the election.”
Programming Choice for Students Advocacy
With a central theme of building better people through the delivery of quality education and fighting childhood poverty, the RITE Richmond Board of Education Trustee team of Belleza, Goldstein and Starchuk will fight for change at the Board of Education, starting with Programming Choice for Students.
“Our district should have more options in secondary programs of choice and enrichment for students,” said Goldstein. “Such programs have been shown to improve student participation and enthusiasm.”
Goldstein is running for his second term as School Board trustee after being elected in 2011. On the Richmond Board of Education, he is Chair of the Audit Committee and Vice-Chair of the Personnel and Finance Committees.
“Education is vital in establishing healthy, democratic and pluralistic society,” said Belleza. “Putting our students first is of the utmost importance to the Board of Education and therefore, we need Trustees who will put the needs of students first. The RITE Richmond Trustee team will do exactly that and we have been doing that our whole lives.”
RITE Richmond’s Fight Against Child Poverty
Rising child poverty rates affect students in a number of ways and the RITE Richmond Trustee team will make this an even larger priority on day 1. Belleza, a life-long community volunteer, has been a School Board trustee since 2008 and has championed the cause of fighting child poverty.
“I am glad to have initiated and brought attention to the Board the issue of child poverty in schools,” said Belleza. “It has a negative impact on students and bringing this to the forefront has led the Board to enact measures to address child poverty in schools.”
Belleza was the first Filipino to be elected to public office in British Columbia. He has dedicated over 25 years of his life to community service, serving on the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee, Richmond Community Services Advisory Committee, East Richmond Community Association, Association of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies, Mabuhay Jaycees, Richmond Multicultural Community Society and various other associations.
Goldstein also serves on the Communications Committee and represents the Board on the Vancouver Coastal Health Local Governance Liaison Group. He noted that the District is moving forward on issues he ran on back in 2011, but that change needs a big push, going forward.
“The Richmond School District is on the cusp of change,” added Goldstein. “The District is re-evaluating how programming is offered to all students, including a redefinition/clarification of the central concept of inclusion. This endeavour is consistent with my philosophy on how to deliver education, and is in line with the reasons that I ran for the office of trustee in 2011.”
Added Goldstein, “I have sat on a private school board, taught at university, and with the past three years experience on the Richmond Board of Education, I look forward to another term where I will be able to support and guide the District for further positive change.”
The eldest of 5 boys, Starchuk has lived his entire life in Richmond and is dedicated to helping young people reach and exceed their potential. He works as the Senior Program Manager for Tomorrow’s Topkids Child Care Society, an out-of-school care organization in Richmond. Starchuk has been active in Richmond’s hockey community over the last decade with the Seafair and Richmond Minor Hockey Associations dedicated to helping children and youth play the game.
“Education needs an overhaul,” said Starchuk. “There needs to be a different philosophy. We need people who are going to bring a fresh outlook and I’m different from everyone else. I’m not a businessman or a lawyer. I work with kids everyday and my life is dedicated to raising good people.”
Starchuk also noted that education is more than just arriving at school and achieving passing grades.
“Education is about academics in a lot of people’s minds but it’s so much more,” added Starchuk. “It’s about building good people. Working with Norm [Goldstein] and Rod [Belleza], they’re about raising good people. Together, we want to offer choice in programs. We want to be creative in our ways and our RITE Richmond Trustee team will do that.”
RITE Richmond will also host a series of Free Barbecues for all of the public to join in on. The first of which will be on Sunday August 24 from 4 pm to 7 pm at 11631 Seahurst Road. This will be in a relaxed environment where Richmondites can join RITE Richmond candidates for some food and talk about issues.
“Richmond is a special place,” added Day. “We will work towards election reforms that will change the face of politics in Richmond. With our energy and passion, the RITE Richmond team offers a new approach to civic politics that the public will find exciting and engaging.”
Media contact: Ramesh Ranjan
Phone: 604 250 7415