His name may appear on the ballot, but Gerry Neustaedter does not care if voters fill in the box next to his name or not on Oct. 18.
The Bearspaw resident is one of three candidates listed for Rocky View Schools’ (RVS) Ward 5 seat in the upcoming Board of Trustees election, but he insists he is indifferent to whether he wins or loses, and would prefer not to be elected.
“I don’t want to be a trustee,” said Neustaedter, a rural real estate agent for Calgary Remax. “My budget is zero, my revenue and expenses are zero. I don’t want to be a trustee, but guys like me need to be in there.”
Citing his position as an educational “outsider,” Neustaedter said his perspective is one that would benefit the RVS Board of Trustees.
“I’m not a teacher, I don’t have a bachelor of education, I’m an outsider to the educational system,” he said. “We can’t have a whole school board with one kind of people on it, who have been in the education system for a long time. I’m an outsider and we need those on the board.”
Though he calls himself an outsider, Neustaedter does have a background in public schools, as well as municipal politics. He served as a councillor for Rocky View County from 2004 to 2007, and was an RVS trustee from 1995 to 1998. He ran unsuccessfully for RVC council in 2007 and 2010.
During his spell as a trustee, he said he helped advocate for the reopening of Bearspaw School, as well as for Westbrook School to remain open, and for the development of Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek.
“This was all a long time ago – more than 25 years ago – but to me, it’s still pretty fresh,” he said. “I was in my late 30s then and now I’m in my 60s.”
Other than his former spells as an elected official, Neustaedter said the bulk of his career has been in the private sector, as he previously owned a construction business before becoming a real estate agent.
The self-described family man said he has been married for 40 years, has four daughters, eight grandchildren, and lives on an acreage in Bearspaw.
“I live an awesome life – I’m sitting right now with my feet up on my deck,” he said. “My clients love me and my kids and grandkids all want to come visit me on the weekends. I have all the toys, horses and junk I can play with. It’s a wonderful life. I want to complicate my wonderful life with trustee things?”
Asked what his opinions are on local education issues, Neustaedter confessed he does not currently know what the hot button issues are in RVS. When asked for his thoughts on the Alberta government’s draft K-6 curriculum that was released earlier this year, he said it is important for elementary school students to have a firm base of knowledge in core subjects, like mathematics.
“There are a few things I’d like to see happen, but hopefully I don’t get elected,” he said. “I need to run but I’m not searching for votes. If guys don’t want to vote for me, I’m happy with them.
“I’m really not interested, but I should [be]. Maybe that’s my problem – I get involved in too much. I don’t really want it. Hopefully I don’t get elected, but if I do, that’s OK. It kills my vacation time.”
The other two candidates running for the trustee position for Ward 5, which includes public schools in Bearspaw, Springbank, Bragg Creek and rural Cochrane, are incumbent Judi Hunter and former RVC councillor Jerry Arshinoff.