Voters across Chilliwack head to the polls on Saturday to choose a mayor, councillors and school trustees.
Polls are open in Chilliwack at the following locations from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.:
• Chilliwack Middle School Gymnasium, 46354 Yale Road
• Evergreen Hall, 9291 Corbould Street
• Greendale Fire Hall, 6485 Sumas Prairie Road
• Promontory Heights Community School Gymnasium, 46200 Stoneview Drive
• Rosedale Traditional Community School Gymnasium, 50850 Yale Road
• Sardis Elementary School Gymnasium, 45775 Manuel Road
• Watson Elementary School Gymnasium, 45305 Watson Road
• Yarrow Community Hall, 4670 Community Street
Who is running for mayor?
— Jennifer Feinberg (@CHWKjourno) October 20, 2018
There are five people running for mayor in Chilliwack:
Brigida Crosbie: Video
Sharon Gaetz: Video
Ken Popove: Video
Dave Rowan: Video
Sam Waddington: Video
Who is running for council?
There are 14 people seeking one of the six seats on Chilliwack council:
Sue Attrill – Sue Attrill is seeking another term on council after serving since 2008 providing “leadership, vision, and team spirit.” Attrill has been chair of Public Art Advisory Committee, vice-chair of the Agricultural & Rural Advisory Committee, and liaison to the boards of Tourism Chilliwack, Chilliwack Arts & Cultural Centre Society, and the Downtown Chilliwack BIA. Prior to council, Attrill worked as the CEO of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce following a 30-year career at BC Telephone Company. Attrill is the current Executive Director of the Chilliwack Hospice Society. Her re-election platform champions a strong business climate and economy in Chilliwack along with fiscal responsibility, social issues, addiction and homelessness, agriculture and the arts.
Terry Cross – Terry Cross has been a resident of Chilliwack for more than 45 years, and has been the manager of O’Connor Collision and Towing for 26 years. Cross said he has a “strong sense of fiscal responsibility” and has volunteered as treasurer of his Emerald Ridge Strata, one of the largest freehold land stratas in the community, for the past six years. Cross has supported the Chilliwack Chiefs through their Guardian Angel program and served as a Chilliwack Minor Hockey coach for many years. He is a strong advocate for the trades. Cross pledges to be “tough on crime” and asks voters to help him “build a strong, safe city.”
Louis De Jaeger – Louis De Jaeger describes himself as an entrepreneur, business leader and community advocate, who supports properly managed growth and good governance in his bid for election to council. De Jaeger is the former long-time owner of Bravo Restaurant and Lounge, who ran as the federal Liberal party candidate for Chilliwack-Hope in the 2015 federal election. De Jaeger sits on Sto:lo Community Futures BoD, and a member of Chilliwack Healthier Community’s Open Doors Task Team. He served as VP of the Chilliwack BIA, a member of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Cheam Rotary and a volunteer as corporate liaison for the Spirit of the People Powwow. De Jaeger is an MBA candidate in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business in Vancouver.
Cameron Hull – Cameron Hull is running on a three-point platform: respecting the past, taking care of today, and building for the future. Hull has lived in Chilliwack for 14 years. For about four years he ran a business downtown near Five Corners, North South Military, which recently closed. Hull is a former director of the Downtown BIA, and a member and former director of Heritage Chilliwack. He is a former member of the Canadian Forces and an active member of ANAVETS unit 305 Chilliwack. Hull said he will be “a positive voice” on council, who will respect “historical truths” and honour those who came before us. Infrastructure upgrades and collaborating toward a common goal are platform planks. “We have the chance to build for everyone’s future.”
Chris Kloot – In seeking a second term on council, Chris Kloot notes that he recognizes the many challenges facing Chilliwack as well as many successes that he was able to see in his first term. He said with the support of the community, family and friends, he would like continue being a part of the crucial conversations for Chilliwack. He listed some achievements of council since 2014, like a focus on RCMP/fire protective services, affordable housing partnerships, embarking on several projects to build various types of housing. Kloot emphasizes maintaining quality of life, and protection of agricultural land and supporting farmers in his platform seeking re-election.
Jason Lum – His re-election PR in seeking a third term describes Jason Lum as “principled, passionate, proven.” Lum made headway in the past few years taking an active leadership role on the transportation and public safety advisory committees, as well as the Chilliwack Creative Commission. He hope Chilliwack will elect a council that is willing to “embrace new ideas while still maintaining our vibrant local economy, protecting our amazing natural environment, and continuing to build world-class amenities.” Lum was also elected chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District board, and most recently appointed to the Fraser Basin Leadership Committee on Regional Flood management. Prior to being elected to council, Lum was the youngest elected president of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce.
Patti MacAhonic – Patti MacAhonic, executive director of Ann Davis Transition Society and former Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce executive director, said her 2018 bid for city council employs that tagline: “A Voice for You – Proven Leadership – Taking Action Getting Results.” As the driving force behind the recent opening of ADTS’s specialized transition house for women, it was a tangible example of “getting results” while working collaboratively with the ADTS board and partners. MacAhonic sits at many tables from Chilliwack Healthier Community, and the Youth Health Centre to the Social Work and Human Services Advisory Committee for UFV. She also serves as an advisor to the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance and Blanket BC for a number of years.
Sandy Mathies – Sandy Mathies, president of Cannor Nurseries has lived in Chilliwack all his life but has travelled around the world, too. He said he’s running for council on a platform of creating more affordable housing options and keeping the community safe, which are two main campaign priorities. Mathies’ platform calls for creating a “safer Chilliwack” and he said his 18 years running Cannor, included a stint as president of the BC Nursery and Landscape association and vice chair of the BC Agriculture Council, which provided “great insight” into the struggles of all farmers and dealing with provincial and federal governments when it came to policy and funding. Mathies has volunteered on several finance committees, and is a strong advocate for continued fiscal restraint on council.
Bud Mercer – With experience in policing and the private sector, retired RCMP commander Bud Mercer decided to run for council. Mercer served the RCMP in a 34-year career, first as a young dog handler, a watch commander at the Detachment, the Officer-in-Charge of the Chilliwack Detachment, and then Commander of the Upper Fraser Valley area. Chilliwack has been his family’s home since 1992, except for a short stint in Ottawa. Mercer became Chief Operating Officer for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games’ Integrated Security Unit in 2007. Mercer was responsible for security planning for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in charge of 15,000 personnel and a budget of more than$550 million. Maintaining Chilliwack’s competitive tax structure for both homeowners and businesses is key, along with building “a safe city with family-safe neighbourhoods.”
Lisa Morry – Lisa Morry, who works at University of the Fraser Valley library, is a union officer and was a long-time single mother. Morry lists housing, transportation and child poverty, as big issues, citing the urgent need for more affordable housing and rental housing. Prioritizing housing for the most vulnerable will in turn help to reduce homelessness, crime, and vandalism, saving taxpayers money. Local transportation needs attention as roads are clogged, wasting time, fuel and resources. Morry pledges to create spaces within neighbourhoods for people to gather and build community. “Affordable housing is one of the keys to easing child poverty, but we have to do better than that.”
Jeff Shields – Brings a strong career background in business along with ample community service to his candidacy for a seat on council. As a chartered accountant for the past 25 years, he spent 18 years as the CFO (chief financial officer) for the Visscher Group of Companies. Prior to that, he spent a number of years in public practice. Shields pledges to be fiscally responsible, to work collaboratively and respectfully with local leaders as well as all levels of government to ensure the continued livability and prosperity for Chilliwack. He believes in accountability and sheer hard work and has a “dedicated, no-nonsense work ethic” which is the same approach that he intends to bring to council.
Ken Smith – Upper Valley Aviation founder Ken Smith is running for a seat on council. Smith was born in Chilliwack, grew up in Rosedale, where his mother owned and operated a gas station. He became a fully-fledged pilot at the age of 16 from the Chilliwack airport, and later turn his passion for flying into a career in aviation. Smith has always been “a passionate person with strong opinions,” and he feels the time is right now. “I believe that we as a city can do better, and I want to be a part of that change.” Smith served as the first Chilliwack Flight Fest president for its first two years and volunteered subsequently. He was the president of the Chilliwack Flying Club and is now involved in Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). Smith also served on the CEPCO board, and was on the Aviation and Aerospace sub committee of CEPCO.
Debora Soutar – Debora Soutar’s election slogan is “Our City, Our Vision, Our Future” and the council candidate said she pledges “creative management” to reap the benefits of Chilliwack growth. Soutar, a former president of the Rotary Club of Chilliwack, is vowing to hold “listening events” if elected, and to make the act of voting important. Soutar is a retired silviculturist, and a volunteer/educator with the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve.
Harv Westeringh –Born and raised in Chilliwack, Harv Westeringh is a small-scale dairy farmer, builder and real estate agent. His webpage describes him as approachable, accountable, and willing to listen to all points of view with respect. “My job is to bring people together, through negotiation and collaboration.” Westeringh said he believes in being fiscally responsible, maintaining low taxes, and supporting the pay-as-you-go philosophy. He’s been president of the East Chilliwack Elementary PAC, involved in the ice hockey community, as youth coach, youth trainer, president of the Upper Fraser Valley Hockey Association, old-timers’ hockey association, youth soccer coach, as well as involved with the Chilliwack Holstein 4-H, and past director of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board.
Who is running for school board?
There are 17 people running for Chilliwack School Board. Seven will be elected:
Chris Braun – Chris Braun’s father was a principal and teacher in the district his entire career, his brother and sister-in-law are teachers in Vancouver, and his cousin currently teaches at Chilliwack Middle School. He also has four adult children that went to Chilliwack schools and two more still attending.
“The Chilliwack School Board hasn’t been proactive in keeping up with Chilliwack’s rapid growth,” Braun said in a statement. “Ninety-three portables is simply unacceptable and not only do we need to solve that issue quickly, we need to be looking forward at future population growth and proactively work with city planners and the province so we’re not just opening new schools that are already overcrowded.”
Dan Coulter – Incumbent trustee Dan Coulter first ran for school board in 2011 finishing just out of the running in eighth out of 24 candidates. He was then first elected in a byelection in 2013 to replace Louise Piper who resigned due to medical reasons. He was then re-elected in 2014 placing third in voting.
As for issues, he pointed to challenges over grade reconfiguration, middle school FSA scores and space in schools. Without bringing it up directly, he only alluded to the controversy over SOGI 123, an issue brought up by a number of candidates who have announced so far.
“We cannot get bogged down in the divisive ‘debate’ that has plagued the district for almost a year but there are single issue candidates that intend to do just that,” Coulter said.
Silvia Dyck – Silvia Dyck has been on the school board for 19 years since being first elected in 1999 and she was re-elected in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.
“I am a wife and mother of four children all of whom were educated in Chilliwack and graduated from Sardis Secondary, and I seek your support for a seventh term as your school trustee,” Dyck said.
As her children were growing up, Dyck spent time managing a family daycare, volunteering as a Sunday school teacher, she was a 4H leader, a youth group leader, a Scout group assistant, and she became active in the parent advisory council movement.
Darrell Furgason – Darrell Furgason who has a PhD in religious studies from Australia and who says he has lectured at Trinity Western University said he wants to see “inclusivity for all” and a “quality, fact-based curriculum.”
This despite several social media posts expressing controversial views about homophobic and transphobic people, and a belief in Bibilical creationism, often referred to as Young Earth creationism.
On the issue of gender identity: “We must stop the push by the LGBTQ lobby and the public schools here in B.C. to indoctrinate our children via SOGI curriculum (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity).”
Kelly Janveaux – Kelly Janveaux, who has lived in Chilliwack since she was nine-years-old, says she’s always loved Chilliwack, and can see how much the community’s grown since her childhood.
“I remember when there was no 7-Eleven or McDonald’s,” she said while sitting at a table in a downtown Chilliwack cafe. “But we’ve grown so much, and there’s been so much change and diversity, which is good. Change is good.”
Yet to keep up with those changes, and ensure the city’s youth benefit from it, Janveaux believes it’s time for some fresh initiatives and outlooks to be added to the district’s school board.
With a platform that she says is inline with School District 33’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2021, Janveaux hopes to not only be a voice representing like-minded individuals throughout the region on a large scale, but to also be a bridge between the board and the PACs, students, and employees.
Kaethe Jones – Retired school teacher Kaethe Jones got to the heart of what some are making the district’s most controversial issue with the number one item on her platform.
“To protect our children from the dangerous influences of the SOGI 123 ideology,” she wrote in a press release.
SOGI 123 is a Ministry of Education resource designed to limit bullying of LGBT youth in schools.
In her press release announcing her bid for the board, Jones said SOGI 123 “creates confusion and anxiety in some children and possibly contributes to mental health issues later in life.”
She said “we need to remove SOGI 123 from the list of District 33 resources.”
Other items on Jones’ platform include: promoting the recommendations of Dr. Dave Carter’s February 2013 Special Education Review Report; and making sure the school board makes fiscally responsible decisions to improve learning outcomes for all students.
Peter Lang – Chilliwack resident Peter Lang who lost his son in government care has decided to run for school board.
Lang said he put his name forward for trustee out of concern there would not be enough Indigenous representation on the board over the coming four years.
Lang, who is Métis, has a background with the federal government, starting as a correctional officer with the Correctional Service of Canada in 2001 and eventually becoming Deputy Warden at Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village, which is located in Sts’ailes Territory.
“I think boards need multiple voices from diverse backgrounds in order to look out for the interests of all children and youth,” he said in a statement. “It concerns me that we could have yet another generation of youth growing up with scars of shame due to ostracizing or harassment. I don’t like that and I won’t stand by idly and watch it happen in my community.”
Heather Maahs – In her bid for re-election, Heather Maahs said one of her goals for this coming term is to see student reading and math scores increase, particularly the grade sevens.
“It is alarming to see such low scores of students at this age because it is very difficult, although not impossible, for them to catch up,” she said in a press release issued Sept. 8. “This needs to be a call to arms for the new board.”
Maahs said a related concern she has is the downsizing of distance education and closure of the popular alternative-education school CHANCE-Shxwetetilthet by the current board.
“These actions limit the choices for parents of our most vulnerable students. Boards need to rally around these students by making sure there are more options and choices for them, not less. One size does not fit all.”
Maahs did not directly broach the current controversy over the SOGI 123 anti-bullying resource, but she did say she will continue to advocate for rigorous and evidence-based analysis of all learning resources “in order to ensure all student’s needs are being met and parental rights are not infringed upon.”
Brian Mielke – Brian Mielke was in the news in February when he expressed his concerns about a privacy breach that took place between 2005 and 2015 involving the district’s participation in a research study at the University of Oregon.
Approximately 1,000 names of students in the district were shared with researchers. Mielke said he did an FOI request to access his child’s student file, and what he got back involved documents that were heavily redacted but included many student names unredacted.
“I immediately became concerned,” he said at the time. “There are very clear privacy laws of data not crossing the border.”
The School District did admit their actions did not fully satisfy the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but it said the risk of any adverse impact on individual privacy was minimal.
In announcing he will run for school board, Mielke said the oversight or the mistake with the privacy breach points to a larger problem.
“The big picture point of concern is that if Trustees are disregarding their duties, the law, their oath, and the safety of children; then what other risks are we exposing our children to when we vote them in?” he wrote.
On other issues, Mielke said he felt parents were being left out of education and that Parent Advisory Councils “have been related to largely a fundraising role.”
Jared Mumford – Lifetime Chilliwack resident, parent, and school volunteer, Jared Mumford is running for school board and issued a statement about his campaign this week.
Mumford is serving his second term as executive member-at-large of School District 33’s District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) and is on his second term as chair of Cheam elementary’s PAC.
He was born and raised in Chilliwack, attended public school in Sardis in the 1980s and 1990s and has two sons in public school.
“It’s time to take what I’ve learned from students, parents, teachers and administrative staff from this, and nearby districts, and put that knowledge to work for our students in a more direct and impactful way.”
Mumford has a particular interest in the over-capacity status of many schools in the district, an interest that stems from his first-hand knowledge at Cheam which sits at approximately 230 per cent of the capacity with seven portables.
Barry Neufeld – Five-term school trustee Barry Neufeld is running for re-election once again.
Neufeld has proven to be one of the more controversial figures in local politics in recent years, coming out strongly against the SOGI 123 teacher resource, which is designed to combat bullying of LGBTQ students in the classroom.
His outspoken comments led to strong responses from most of his fellow board members, the union that represents teachers, and the Minister of Education.
In a platform statement, Neufeld makes no mention of SOGI 123 but said only that he will approve special clubs and support groups for students who may be considered “different.”
“But I would discourage prematurely labeling children who are still developing and maturing.”
Neufeld lauded the districts track record of fiscal management, and he said he will ensure that continues.
“I am excited about the new schools planned for Tyson Road and downtown, and I will ensure that the transitions to these new facilities goes smoothly.”
Michael Prill – Small business owner and parent with four children in the system, Michael Prill said his priorities are advocating for increases to deal with overcrowding, finding transportation solutions, and improving communication between parents and trustees.
“I would like to express my gratitude for the work done by the previous Board of Trustees,” Prill said in a statement. “Now I believe strongly that balanced, relevant and focused voices are needed in Chilliwack to restore the board to a healthy, functional and effective capacity, with concentration on moving forward with the current and future needs of the students of Chilliwack.”
Prill said he believes there is a “discord” between the school board and the citizens.
“I believe there is room at the table for all parties in direct link with appointed trustees,” he said. “Each group has significant value to add in School District 33, and I will work at implementing and improving processes to ensure improved and welcomed communication and collaboration with student representatives, our District PAC and unions.”
Prill said as a father of four, the oldest of whom is in the final year of high school with the youngest entering middle school, he has first-hand experience with busing issues in the district.
Willow Reichelt – Willow Reichelt is an artist, a local community organizer and was a teacher for 14 years in the district up until five years ago.
Reichelt is among those who have been outspoken in support of inclusivity and tolerance in the classroom, in the face of opposition to a Ministry of Education teaching resource on the subject of gender identity in the classroom.
Reichelt’s is the co-founder of Chilliwack’s first little free library (the Literary Owl Little Free Library), the organizer and emcee of You Belong Here (an event held in 2017 to support Muslims and other immigrants), the organizer of two LGBTQ support rallies in 2017 and 2018, and a member of the organizing committee and emcee for the first March for Women in Chilliwack in January 2018.
Reichelt was born in Chilliwack, attended three local schools, and has two sons who have attended school here (one who has just graduated and one who is in Grade 10).
“[I want] Chilliwack schools to be welcoming and inclusive for all members of the school community regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status,” she said in a press release.
Meghan Reid – Meghan Reid is a former (U.S.) teacher who lives on the south side of the city and is a parent with two children in the district.
“I look at our school system and I question ‘How can we do things differently, or better, to improve the education for our children in our community?’” she said in a statement.
“For the past nine years, as I have watched my children progress through elementary into middle and high school, I have witnessed overcrowding, teacher shortages, lack of educational support, non-existent counselling, miscommunication on various levels, and a disconnect between the school board and the community.”
Reid said she is keen to working together to improving the educational system in the Chilliwack school district.
“Every parent I speak to wants to see change, starting with a parent elected to the board,” Reid said. “They want someone who knows the frustrations and safety issues experienced by parents in our school parking lots. They want a voice to speak on their behalf about reconfiguration, inadequate busing, and the lack of resources. When has it become acceptable that our children don’t have enough textbooks to learn from?
Natalie Sache – Sports parent of four kids in the Chilliwack school system, Natalie Sache is running for trustee.
Sache grew up in Chilliwack attended school from Kindergarten to graduation and on to a bachelors degree at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2005.
She’s a volunteer in the community, she’s been involved with a Parent Advisory Committee, and is heavily active in minor hockey and youth basketball. In 2012, she was honoured to receive the Community Sport Hero Award from the City of Chilliwack in recognition for volunteering with children’s sports.
A main concern for Sache in the district is planning ahead for needed space.
“For example, there are currently 93 portables being used in School District 33,” she says. “This needs to be dealt with, as it is an urgent issue.”
David Swankey – David Swankey has a background in political science, he says with an interest that has helped inform his community involvement since moving to Chilliwack with his wife in 2014.
He’s been a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee since 2015, and he used that position to help inform the establishment of Cycle Chilliwack, a cycling advocacy group that has been active over the past year.
Swankey’s wife is a teacher in the district and the couple welcomed their first child last year.
“[I see] a board struggling to keep up with a fast changing community, and unable to find unity around some of the key issues it faces,” he said in a press release.
He said his platform addresses the need for renewed relationships between the board and their partners, the challenge of the school district’s infrastructure deficit, and the opportunity for expanded outdoor education and active learning.
Swankey’s full platform can be found at www.davidswankey.com.
Erma Vietorisz – Retired teacher Erma Vietorisz announced her candidacy for trustee.
“I’ve had many years of experience as a teacher in the B.C. public school system, and it’s time for me to put that experience to good use,” the 68-year-old Vietorisz wrote. “I think I have a lot to offer and it would be an honour to serve the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Chilliwack School District 33.”
Vietorisz says she has a bachelor of education degree and a master’s degree in arts, in addition to 37 years of experience in the field of education “with a lengthy career in helping students with learning difficulties.”
Vietorisz served as chair of several school-based teams for many years, and worked with teachers, parents, paraprofessionals and administrators to find solutions to difficult problems.
While a teacher, Vietorisz was quoted in a Canadian Press story posted on the Globe and Mail website 18 years ago as a spokesperson for the “Coalition for the Protection of Parental Rights” that organized a rally against a proposal by the BCTF to support gay-straight alliance clubs, which are usually set up to help protect LGBT students from bullying.
For all of our stories on the municipal election, click here.