Like so many others in the area, I was preparing to complete my ballot for the upcoming municipal election. While the local newspapers provided good information on the profiles and platforms of the Council candidates, I could find little, if any, information on those candidates for the English Separate School Board Trustee. The ballot indicated three candidates were running for the position, Susan Artymko, Mervin Merkowsky, and Rose Noonan. I could vote for only one.
So, I was able to find the email address for each of the contenders and wrote to them asking for some information about themselves and what motivated them to let their name stand as a candidate for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board. I mentioned, of course, that I would be interested in any further information they might provide, for example how they might fulfill their role as an advocate for Catholic Education in Renfrew County and what they have done to inform themselves of the interests of their constituents.
Within a day I had heard back from both Mrs. Artymko and Mrs. Noonan. I have not, yet, received a response from Mr. Merkowsky.
The following are the summaries I received from the two candidates who responded.
I have lived in Barry’s Bay for the last 28 years. During my time here I have raised two daughters (now in their twenties), volunteered with many local groups, and worked as a supply teacher for a year, as the office administrator at St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church, and at the Home Hardware Building Centre for almost 10 years. I have volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society, and at my daughters’ elementary school, St. John Bosco. I was also a board member of the Barry’s Bay Public Library (now Madawaska Valley Public Library) for 8 years, 4 of which were as chair.
I felt that librarianship was my calling, so a few years ago I went back to university (at Western) for a Master of Library and Information Science degree (I also have an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto). I am now the CEO/Head Librarian at Bonnechere Union Public Library in Eganville.
I decided to run for School Board Trustee because I like being part of the process and giving my time to the community. My daughters were in the Catholic School system in Renfrew County at the elementary level, and my husband is a teacher with RCCDSB. I felt that there was a need for new people on the board, and I feel very strongly that students need a normal school year (and continuing on) after the last two-plus years of disruption. I want to make sure schools stay open, students can interact with their friends and classmates, and that they are not denied extracurricular activities and sports. I also do not want to see masks being mandated again.
As for my role as an advocate for Catholic Education in Renfrew County, I am a Catholic and will uphold the Bishop’s counsel and guidelines, and the right to a Catholic education for those who wish it. In the past couple of months, I have been to a few community events where I have spoken to people about being a school board trustee, and I have attended the last two all-candidates meetings in Madawaska Valley Township, one of which was actually a meet-and-greet. I am planning on going to the meeting in Palmer Rapids this evening, as I am aware that the territory covered by the position I am running for includes Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, as well as MV, and Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards.
To inform myself of the concerns of the constituents in this area, I went to my neighbours’ houses, spoke to other parents of kids that go to my kids’ school, other parents at Toy Bus playgroup, and many community members I met when working as a waitress over the summer. I also attended election events in Killaloe and Barry’s Bay. I was at the meet the candidates’ event at the Opeongo Seniors Centre last week, but the newspaper didn’t seem to mention the school board candidates at all, even though we were all there (Catholic English).
Rose Noonan posted the following information on her Facebook page:
To all Municipal Electors of the Townships of Killaloe Hagarty & Richards, Madawaska Valley and Brudenell Lyndoch Raglan,
My name is Rose Noonan and I am running in the 2022 municipal election as a candidate for Catholic English Language School Board Trustee for KH&R, MV and BLR.
I live in Combermere, Ontario with my husband and our four children. I have a degree in English Literature and a graduate certificate in Publishing. I worked in Canadian Media until about ten years ago. Since then, I have been working in the hospitality industry. My Ottawa Valley roots go back to 1834 on my father’s side when Dennis Noonan arrived from Ireland. My mother’s parents were teachers who met at University of Glasgow and moved to Canada from Scotland with their five daughters in 1967 and were active members in the Catholic community.
As a graduate of the Catholic education system in Ontario and a parent of current and future students, I am familiar with our schools and confident I can represent students and families well in our community. I am committed to accountability, honesty, and working towards the best Catholic education possible for our children. If elected, I will do my best to help students achieve their educational goals, support their well-being, and contribute to keeping our school environments safe for all. For those of you who may not know me yet, please reach out and say hi. I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you and learn about your perspective, opinions, and concerns.
Thank you in advance for considering me for Catholic English Language School Board Trustee on October 24, 2022. Regardless of the decision you make, please remember to vote. Our children’s future depends on it.
Editor’s note: To learn more about the role of School Board Trustee, visit https://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/