After spending nine years as a Surrey school trustee and nine years prior as a provincial MLA, Reni Masi is retiring from politics.
“I’ll miss it,” he told The Leader in a one-on-one interview Thursday. “It’s the right time.”
Masi said after much consideration, he’s decided three terms on Surrey’s Board of Education is enough and he’s satisfied he’s accomplished many of the things he set out to do as a trustee.
His primary goal upon being elected in 2005 was to help the board focus on educational matters rather than political issues.
“Obviously, I was concerned about education, as an educator,” the former teacher and principal says, noting trustees of varying political stripes have come together to function in a non-partisan manner better than some of their predecessors. “My focus was education, not politics.”
Some of the other things Masi felt passionately about were establishing community schools and expanding the International Baccalaureate program.
“That (the latter) was important because it’s an excellent program,” he said. “We’ve sent a lot of kids to major universities through that program – top, first-class universities.”
He also helped the board fight for – and eventually receive – equitable funding which, due to a flawed government formula, repeatedly left Surrey getting significantly less money than similarly sized districts such as Vancouver.
One of the things he wished he had achieved was making PE mandatory for Grade 11 students.
“It’s good for kids. It gives them new outlooks and new career possibilities and establishes lifestyles.”
Masi was a teacher for 15 years and a principal for 20 – all in Surrey. While he ran unsuccessfully provincially in Surrey in 1966 and twice federally (1980 and 1984), it wasn’t until he retired from being a principal in 1991 that he began thinking more seriously about entering political life.
“It was always a strong interest,” he said. “I like the theory of politics. We live in the best country in the world. Why not get involved?”
After a two-year stint coaching basketball at Holy Cross High School, Masi served as president of the B.C. Liberal Party from 1994 to 1995. A year later, threw his hat in the ring to represent the Delta-North riding, unseating Norm Lortie and serving the constituency until 2005.
Masi, 80, has been married for nearly 45 years and has three adult sons and two grandchildren.
His future plans are uncertain, he says, but he’s not too worried about keeping busy.
“Something will come along.
“Worst case scenario, I become a campaign manager somewhere,” he laughed.