Northwest B.C. school trustees prepare to run again

But some trustees on the Coast Mountains School District board have declined

The upcoming school trustee election is beginning to take shape with all but but one of the current Coast Mountains School District board members declaring their intentions.

In Terrace, current school board chair Art Erasmus confirmed last week that he will seek re-election this November. He had stated previously that he wanted to wait and see how the labour dispute between the province and teachers’ union played out before deciding if he would run again, but with the dispute settled and students back in school this week, he believes he still has a role to play.

“Now that we have an agreement, trustees have a role to play in terms of providing some stability in the school district and to carry on supporting teachers, supporting programs, working with parents in terms of saying what we are able to do and what we aren’t able to do,” he said Friday.

That role includes “advocating with the government in terms making sure the parents and the politicians know and hear that education is important,” Erasmus said. “Kids are our future so money we spend on kids and making them responsible citizens is money well spent.”

The second Terrace trustee, board vice chair Roger Leclerc, indicated earlier in the school year that he would not be running again, noting a busy life schedule.

And veteran trustee Gary Turner, representing Thornhill, confirmed at last night’s board meeting that he will be running again.

He said he “mulled it over both ways” but ultimately decided that there are “still things I think need to be done.”

Kitimat trustee Linda Campbell will not be seeking re-election. She thanked the board at last night’s meeting, the first of the 2014/2015 school year, for some of the “best times” of her life over the past two-plus years as a trustee.

“I feel blessed to have been part of this board for the past two years,” she said. “It’ll be hard to say goodbye.”

Kitimat’s Raymond Raj, who has been a trustee for nine years, says he will be seeking re-election. He said he had been approached to run for Kitimat city council, but declined, citing the years of training he has received as part of the school board and that he doesn’t do it for money, he does it for his conscience.

“Some use it (being a school trustee) as a stepping stone,” he said last night. “Not me.”

Raj said it is good there is room for new faces on next year’s board and that at least three trustees will be there for continuity – “as long as they get elected.”

Hazelton trustee Lynn Newbery, a fixture of the education committee who is known for closing her trustee updates with what she calls “a few minutes for history” in which she details local history of the Hazeltons, will not be seeking re-election. She’s giving a talk tonight to encourage others to run for her spot, a post she is leaving “simply because of old age and winter driving.”

As of last night, Stewart trustee Shannon McFee has not yet declared her intentions.

And as for who else might seek a spot on the school board? That should become more clear in the coming weeks when the nomination period officially begins next Tuesday, Sept. 30. Would-be candidates have until Oct. 10 to file their nominations.