Q&A: A Political Science alum answers the needs in the classroom as a school board trustee

Hudson Campbell once dreamed of running restaurants. He may have put down his kitchen knives since starring on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Bakers (true story), but his segue into studying political science was smooth as butter. And a few months ago, at just 20 years old, he proved it with his election to the Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows Board of Education as B.C.’s youngest new trustee. 

As part of the school board, Hudson helps oversee the quality of education in his school district. He’s balancing his four-year term with ongoing studies, having recently finished his program at Douglas and transferred to the University of the Fraser Valley to complete his Bachelor of Political Science. Now a few months into his term, we caught up with Hudson about his experience breaking into the political sphere. 

What led you to run for school board trustee? 

I find that people get involved in politics in two ways. Some people want to break into politics however they can, so they go for whatever positions they can as the first steps toward their long-term goals. The other option is to hold out until there’s an opportunity that really resonates with you.  

For me, I was also very passionate about schools. In high school, I was one of the only kids there at the school board meetings, advocating for more funding and such. I felt like not enough was getting done when I was a student, so I waited until the next election I’d be eligible to run in, and I just went for it. There was never a thought for other positions because I specifically wanted to be on school boards. 

What do you want to achieve during your time in office? 

I ran under three key ideas: sustainability, truth and reconciliation, and student voice. I really want us to be working more closely with our Indigenous communities in how our school system runs. And I want us to really be listening to the people who are working and learning in the classroom, whether that be students, teachers, principals or others. That’s how we can make improvements that answer people’s needs. There’s a demand for safer schools, not in the sense of more policing, but in the sense of physical infrastructure and constructing new buildings. And in general, we need more funding in public education. 

No matter what level of government, there’s often a big disconnect between the people and the governance. People don’t know how they can create change. Overall, I’d like to work on empowering the youth and staff, so we can make some of that change together. 

What is your best memory from the campaign trail? What’s the worst? 

My best memory was just getting out and meeting everyone. That was so much fun: going to all the events, going to all the meet-and-greets and round tables, having great conversations with different community members, meeting so many community leaders, whether they won or lost in the election. 

The worst part, though, would be how overpowering it all felt. It’s a two-month whirlwind, two months of holding your breath, walking on eggshells, checking messages every minute and answering questions. You’re always on the campaign trail, if that makes sense, whether you’re just going and grabbing a bite with your friend or you’re at an event.  

How did you manage the stress of the campaign?  

I found myself getting a lot better about putting my phone away before bed. Before that, I would catch myself scrolling through social media for hours, answering comments, looking at what other candidates were posting. It was so consuming, and eventually it became such an echo chamber, too. 

Much of the buzz around your campaign centered on your how young you were compared to other candidates. Did you feel conscious of that age difference on the campaign trail? 

It was absolutely a part of things, whether or not I wanted it to be. The media, especially the local newspaper, really picked up the fact that I was one of two fairly young people running for school board seats. The community had mixed feelings about it. A lot of people thought it was great to have more youth voices involved, while others said the opposite — we were so young, so what did we really know?  

What did it feel like when you heard that you won? 

It was so unreal. I mean, people who didn’t even know me were checking off my name on their ballots, just from reading about me in the newspaper. That’s unbelievable. That’s just so cool to me. Since then, I’ve even had people stop me at the grocery store, like, “Oh, I voted for you.” I’m just so honoured to have been the chosen candidate. 

What has your time in office been like so far? 

Honestly, the board that we were elected to is awesome. We have a great superintendent and great upper-level district staff, all of whom welcomed us with open arms. They’ve given us all the resources that we’ve needed and put us through rigorous training. We even did an eight-hour lecture on Roberts’ rules of order at the beginning!  

Over the past few months, how have your original goals evolved? 

They’ve definitely gotten more specific. For example, when I was running for office, I campaigned on “student voice” in a broad sense. While I certainly had a high-level sense of what I wanted to work toward, I lacked a practical sense of what the execution and methods to achieve that could look like. Now I have specific policies that I want to target to be able to improve student voice. The same goes for my other goals, like sustainability. I have more direction now, and I know exactly what I need to do. 

Your term in office is four years. What do you want to do after that? What are your personal goals? 

At the end of the day, I’m only 20; I have so much in my life ahead of me. So I’m open to whatever comes next. But I’d love to keep working in politics. Along with the school board, I also do constituency work for my local MLA. And I’m still aiming for my degree in political science, so I want to finish that at my own pace, too. Once I’ve served my full term on the school board, I’ll look for my next opportunity to do the work I want to keep doing. 

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