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Richmond’s 2022 trustee candidates, in their own words

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:57 PDT, Fri September 30, 2022

Last Updated: 12:25 PDT, Fri September 30, 2022

Fifteen school board trustee candidates are running in Richmond’s civic election, set for Oct. 15.

There are three candidates running for mayor and 27 running for councillor.

The trustee candidates are profiled below. Their positions will also be shared via video interviews published at https://richmondsentinel.ca/richmond-election-2022.

For more information on the candidates, visit click here.


Name: Rod Belleza

Party: RCCA—Richmond Community Coalition

Richmond resident since: 1983

Occupation: Financial advisor

Why are you running for office? I would like to continue my mission to ensure that the Richmond Board of Education provides quality public education for our children. As an immigrant, I want to pay back the goodness of Canada by serving on the Richmond Board of Education.

Top issue in this election and your position? With the soaring inflation and world energy crisis during this post-pandemic time, underfunding public education will have a negative impact on our school programs and support for our students and  staff. If elected, I will strongly advocate for sufficient funding and resources for public education. I will engage with our stakeholders through a consultation process and take political action if needed.    


Name: Dean Billings

Party: Independent

Richmond resident since: 2012

Occupation: Software project manager

Why are you running for office? As a parent of primary school-aged children in Richmond, I am concerned about the priorities of the board and its decision-making. We are copying too many ideas from “progressive” American jurisdictions. We should focus on youth at risk and position Richmond to be a nation-leading district for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math.

Top issue in this election and your position? My top issue is the education system’s role in gender affirming care. My position is that this is a medical scandal that is having a devastating impact on children and families, and that not enough people know about it.


Name: Chris Dinnell

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 1980 (all my life)

Occupation: Real estate agent with RE/MAX Westcoast and the Dinnell Real Estate Group

Why are you running for office? Giving back to our community is something I believe in very strongly, and of course our youth, as they are the future of this city. I would be proud to say that I helped make some much-needed changes in our school system. I believe I can offer a fresh perspective on many ongoing topics within the system and look forward to speaking to that as a future member of the Richmond Education Party. I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my professional and personal life.

Top issue in this election and your position? Equity and inclusion—implementing recommendations from the diversity and anti-racism working group and continuing to support the work of the SOGI advisory committee. 


Name: Kay Hale

Party: Independent

Richmond resident since: 1984

Occupation: Real estate marketing

Why are you running for office? My grandchild attends school in Richmond, and I have a multicultural background and am multilingual (English, Cantonese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, conversational Mandarin).

Top issue in this election and your position? The school board and administration should reflect the diversity and of our students. I often interact with other parents and guardians on school grounds to discuss ongoing activities. Parents of different ethnicities are frustrated that their voices are not heard, due to a language barrier. The diversity of school board staff should reflect that of the students, to better implement school policies. With my background and experience I will help bring meaningful communication channels. 


Name: Ken Hamaguchi

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 1960

Occupation: Autism/behaviour consultant and minor hockey service provider

Top issue in this election and your position? Student safety and well-being. The last couple of years have been very stressful for our students and staff. COVID has disrupted their lives in many ways. We may not know the true impact of COVID for years to come. But until then, we need to ensure that our students and staff feel safe and secure. That means safe buildings (that are seismically upgraded), a safe school environment (free of racism and bullying), and a supportive teaching staff and administration.


Name: Heather Larson

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 1970

Occupation: Trustee

Why are you running for office? I have a lot to offer as a past employee and trustee.

Top issue in this election and your position? SOGI (fully support). Inclusive learning environments enable students to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. Sexual orientation and gender identity is not its own curriculum, it is one aspect of diversity that is embedded in subject areas. Inclusive lesson plans teach students to treat each other with respect and dignity and more accurately reflect the SOGI diversity in students’ lives.

We have a robust SOGI policy. Our SOGI advisory committee creates an opportunity to work with partners in developing ways to raise awareness, improve understanding, and provide a safe environment for all.


Name: Richard Lee

Party: Independent

Richmond resident between: 2008 and 2018 (a resident of Vancouver since 2018)

Occupation: Lawyer (retired)

Why are you running for office? To serve the families and children in Richmond School District; to contribute to a better learning experience for all our K-12 students.

Top issue in this election and your position? Our students with disabilities—I want to serve them better. Teacher shortage—I want to ensure that it does not happen in the future.


Name: Linda Li

Party: RCCA—Richmond Community Coalition

Richmond resident since: 1997

Occupation: Licensed managing broker and agent at Selmak Realty

Why are you running for office? COVID-19 exposed many vulnerabilities in our school system. When our students needed the trustees to step up and protect them, the leadership demonstrated their inadequacies. Richmond needs strong school trustees and I have an extensive track record of community leadership and am ready to defend our students’ safety and fight for their future.

Top issue in this election and your position? Student safety and mental health—I will advocate funding and resources to enhance programs for mental wellness.


Name: Rachel Ling

Party: RCCA—Richmond Community Coalition

Richmond resident since: 2008

Occupation? BC Health Regulator

Why are you running for office? As a mother of two young children, I want all Richmond students to enjoy a quality public education by ensuring our students and educators are fully supported. I will apply the knowledge and skills I gained from serving on the board of governors at Simon Fraser University to contribute to student success in Richmond public schools, by securing proper resources and funding. 

Top issue in this election and your position? Securing adequate funding and supports for the recovery of the Richmond School District from the COVID-19 pandemic; collaborating with community partners to promote an enriching learning environment where everyone can thrive.


Name: Rajan Paul

Party: Independent

Richmond resident since: 1974, and I’m never leaving

Occupation: Previously 30 years of experience as a front line worker at a homeless shelter; currently a community volunteer for a number of organizations in Richmond

Why are you running for office? If you raise happy and healthy children, they will become happy and healthy adults and productive members of society. It all starts in our schools with the help of the school board. I bring a unique perspective with hands-on experience working with children as a PAC member at Homma elementary for seven years, currently at McMath secondary, and a multi-sport coach of seven years.

Top issue in this election and your position? Increase the support of mental health resources for students in the district. Support pre-existing breakfast programs and look for other areas in need of this program. Address classroom support needs in the area of education assistants and resources. Fundamental physical movement and physical literacy skills.


Name: Donna Sargent

Party: Richmond United

Richmond resident since: 1987

Occupation: Richmond Board of Education school trustee

Why are you running for office? I passionately believe that a safe, inclusive, and caring public education is the key to everything and every child is entitled to the very best education.

Top issue in this election and your position? Adequate, predictable, and stable funding to ensure these top priorities are supported: safe schools (seismically well maintained facilities and city centre school); mental health and wellness (for students and staff); and equity and inclusion (Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, supports for different ways of learning, and health and wellness for students and staff). Advocacy is an important part of the role of a trustee.


Name: Andrew Scallion

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 1999

Occupation: Sales

Why are you running for office? I have been deeply involved with the school district for 11 years as a parent volunteer and president of the Richmond District Parents Association. I would like to continue to serve the parents and students of Richmond as a trustee.

Top issue in this election and your position? SOGI—although the district passed a SOGI policy in 2018, it is still poorly understood by many parents. I currently serve on the SOGI advisory committee and would like to continue that work as a trustee to help promote education and understanding around SOGI so everyone in our schools can feel safe, welcome, and respected.


Name: Debbie Tablotney

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 1981

Occupation: Trustee for last 18 years

Why are you running for office? My business experience has made me well suited to make decisions regarding district finances. I am an experienced leader who serves with passion, integrity, and understanding. 

Top issue in this election and your position? II want to continue advocating for safe and inclusive schools; supporting diversity, truth, and reconciliation in the district; ensuring buildings are maintained to current safety and environmental standards; and securing and providing funding for enhanced support for students with learning challenges.


Name: Alice Wong 

Party: RCCA—Richmond Community Coalition 

Richmond resident since: 1992 

Occupation: Community volunteer 

Why are you running for office? I am passionate about having a strong public education system in Richmond. I believe that good communication and relationships are important. I will deliver a more open and transparent consultation and engagement process for all stakeholders. I am running with a team that will deliver action on key issues to improve education outcomes in Richmond. 

Top issue in this election and your position? Help students recover and transition coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Support student social and emotional development, and programs that focus on mental health and wellness for students and staff. 


Name: David Yang

Party: Richmond Education Party

Richmond resident since: 2006

Occupation: Public servant

Why are you running for office?: As someone who grew up and recently went to school in Richmond, I want to ensure that future generations can have a quality education as I did. I hope to be a strong progressive voice for residents, especially for those who have been politically underrepresented in our city.

Top issue in this election and your position?: Supporting diverse learners—students in Richmond are diverse and learn differently. The past few years have been financially challenging, but we cannot afford to shortchange public education. This means more staff on the ground, expanding ELL (English Language Learning) and language programs, more resources for special education, and other improvements to address diverse learning needs.

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