Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 1, 2007
Trustee races draw lively interest in some centres
Candidates say they want to protect Catholic education
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
While there are competitive races taking place in some school districts, many trustees in the Edmonton Archdiocese will take their seats without having to face the voters.
In Red Deer, for instance, 12 candidates are vying for seven positions on the Red Deer Catholic board. In Spruce Grove and St. Albert, however, all positions were filled by acclamation.
Red Deer Catholic has five trustees from Red Deer, one in the Olds/ Didsbury/ Innisfail/Sylvan Lake area and one in Rocky Mountain House.
While the race in Rocky Mountain is already over as incumbent Stephen Taylor won by acclamation, three candidates - Diane MacKay, Theresa Mary McNeil and Valerie Steckler - are vying for the Olds seat and eight are vying for five seats in Red Deer.
"I don't think we've ever had so many candidates," said Lorraine Askin, spokesperson for Red Deer Catholic.
Adriana LaGrange, a mother of seven with extensive experience as a volunteer with the mentally disabled, St. Mary's Parish and the pro-life movement, decided to seek a seat on the Red Deer board because she loves Catholic schools.
"I think they are awesome," she said Sept. 25. "The main reason that I'm running is I feel very strongly in favour of the Catholic school system."
Elaine Halter, a mother of three who has served on the Red Deer board for nine years, is seeking reelection to make sure Catholic education continues to flourish in her city.
"I have a real interest in Catholic education, we have done a lot of good things and I think I have the energy and the passion to stay around for a little longer and continue to maintain and improve what we have been working on."
The other Red Deer candidates are Lloyd Baumgarten (incumbent), Felix Gebbink, Bev Heisler (incumbent), Steve McEachern, Christine Moore and Anne Marie Watson. Trustee Gord Bontje has stepped down after 12 years on the board, including six as chair.
The East Central Alberta Catholic Regional Division will only have an election in Provost, where incumbent Debra Klein is facing two opponents - Gail Buchart and Greg Ibach. In Wainwright, incumbents Harry Loonen and Mary Charlebois were elected by acclamation.
The same thing happened in Vermilion, where incumbents Jim Brady and Larry Wasylik were acclaimed. In Castor/Halkirk, incumbent Ron Nichols was also reelected without facing the voters, as was incumbent Chris Nicols in Stettler/Killam.
Klein, a farmer and mother of five who has been a Provost trustee for the past three years, is "kind of excited" she is facing opposition because it gives the voters an opportunity to decide. "I'm doing some promotion but it won't be a high profile campaign," she said.
Three years ago Klein gained the seat by acclamation. But now she believes she has one advantage over her opponents.
"Well, I have three years of experience and I do a lot of volunteering at the school and I'm involved in the Church," she said, noting her opponents are also well qualified.
Ibach, one of Klein's opponents, is a 39-year-old oilfield operator in Provost and a father of three children, all of whom attend the local Catholic school.
"I've raised my children with Catholic values and I value the Catholic school system," he said. "If we don't get involved, we risk losing our schools. I also want to set an example to my children."
The Elk Island Catholic School Division - which includes Sherwood Park, Camrose, Vegreville and Fort Saskatchewan - is only having an election in Sherwood Park, where six candidates are vying for four seats on the seven-member board.
In Camrose, Luisa Davidse was elected by acclamation as were Charlene Melenka in Vegreville and Gerald Mykytiuk in Fort Saskatchewan.
Joanne Lloyd, a former Catholic trustee in Fredericton, N.B., and a volunteer with the Catholic school system for 12 years, decided to seek a seat in Sherwood Park, her home since 2003, because she has two children in the system and has a passion for Catholic education.
"I know how important education is not just for my children but for all children and for society," she said. "I think that I'll bring something new because I'm a fresh face, with fresh ideas but yet I'm experienced with school boards."
Tony Sykora, a geomatics advisor with Alberta Municipal Affairs and a father of two, is running for his fourth term as Sherwood Park trustee. Last time he won by acclamation.
"Having opposition (this time) is nerve wracking but creates a little bit of discussion in the area and I think that is good," he said. "I'm running again because I have a passion for Catholic education. I know how fragile and how important Catholic education is in our province and I want to be there to look after it."
The other candidates in Sherwood Park are Jean Boisvert, Dale Dahl, Ted Paszek and Jim Retallack.
St. Thomas Aquinas
The St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Division - which serves Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Lacombe, Ponoka, Leduc and Wetaskiwin - will only have an election in Leduc, where Anne Filiatreault, Arlene Hamilton and Karen Richert are vying for two seats on the nine-member board.
Elected by acclamation to the St. Thomas Aquinas board were:
- Jack Kelly, Beaumont
- Angela Greenidge and Kelly Whalen, Wetaskiwin
- Maria Lentz, Ponoka
- Reuben Konnik, Lacombe
Sandra Bannard and Charles Swap, Drayton Valley.
The Evergreen Catholic School Division - which covers the communities of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Devon and Hinton - will not have an election as all trustees in the eight-member board were elected by acclamation. They are:
- Natasha McBride and Marion Walshe, Stony Plain
- Gerald Bernakevitch, Robert Vasseur and Richard Yaceyko, Spruce Grove
- Joseph MacLellan, Devon
- Caren Mueller, Vimy
- Ron MacKay, Hinton.
Greater St. Albert
The Greater St. Albert School Board - which covers St. Albert, Morinville and Legal - will not have an election either as all of its seven members were elected by acclamation. All the St. Albert incumbents were returned by acclamation, namely Dave Caron, Neil Fitzpatrick, Jacquie Hansen and Rosaleen McEvoy.
The board's two longtime Morinville trustees - Gordon Boddez and Leah Hogg - did not seek reelection and the two people who replaced them - Lauri-Ann Turnbull and Karen Mercier-were both acclaimed to their positions. Cathy Proulx was also retuned to her chair in Legal without facing the voters.