Transgender activist Jamie Lee Hamilton enrolls for Vancouver school board by-election

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      Indefatigable candidate Jamie Lee Hamilton is making another run for public office in Vancouver.

      The transgender activist, who has styled herself in previous votings as the Queen of Hearts and Queen of the Parks, will run for school board in the October 14 by-election.

      The outspoken Hamilton says that she will be a “bridge builder” in the board that has seen deep divisions among trustees in the previous term.

      “I can bring different groups together to address some of these issues that we need to really talk about,” Hamilton told the Straight in a phone interview Tuesday (August 29).

      The well-known political gadfly said that her work in the creation of a sex workers’ monument in the West End, a project that received support across partisan lines, is proof that can rally wide support.

      “I don’t believe in closing schools,” Hamilton also said. “I believe that some schools can serve other purposes. If they’re underutilized, they can serve some adult education needs for may be in the evenings. There’s community uses.”

      In September 2016, the previous board voted to consider the closure of 11 elementary and secondary schools because they are not operating at maximum capacity. The process to deliberate on closures is currently on hold.

      The former board was later fired by the province for its failure to approve a balanced budget.

      Hamilton also wants to bring the urban health program of St. Paul’s Hospital into the school system.

      “I would like to invite them into the school board because I think young people have to be talked with about what’s going on because increasingly we have seen alarming number of young people, students, and younger adults, you know, being dying from recreational drug use,” she said.

      Hamilton will run under the banner of the Independent Democratic Electors Alliance.

      In 1996, Hamilton became the first transgender person to run for elected office in Canada when she waged an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in Vancouver city council.

      She ran again for council in 2005. She ran for park board in 2008, 2011, and 2014.

      In 2008, the Non-Partisan Association vetoed her application to run for park board under the party’s wings, prompting her to go independent.

      In 2014, Hamilton left the Coalition of Progressive Electors, alleging that the so-called Left Front in the party was blocking her nomination as park board candidate.

      Hamilton will gather friends and supporters on Saturday (September 2) at 7 p.m. at the Stanley Park Pavilion.