Byelection: Trustee candidates countdown to Saturday

Chilliwack school trustee byelection: Where to vote? When to vote? Why vote? All answered here.

This Saturday will determine the future for one candidate vying for a seat on Chilliwack school board.

Election day for the school trustee byelection is Saturday, Nov. 30.

Four polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Chilliwack middle school, Sardis elementary, Cultus Lake elementary and Rosedale traditional – all in the gymnasium.

Candidates include Ben Besler, Dan Coulter, Karen Jarvis, Corey Neyrinck, Harold Schmidt and Rob Stelmaschuk.

Election results will be posted on The Progress website at Saturday evening as soon as they’re released.

Candidates have been campaigning for the past month, attending all-candidates meetings, answering media questions, and some going door-to-door to get the vote out.

However, school board elections, often viewed as the “forgotten election,” have notoriously produced low voter turnout. The last municipal election in 2011 had 15 per cent of the eligible voter population voting – the second worse turnout in all of B.C.

And yet, everyone – not just parents – have a stake in the success of public schools.

School trustees are responsible for setting and maintaining the school district’s budget; for creating policy to guide the school district; and for hiring a superintendent.

Many of the decisions made by trustees today will affect the community for years to come.

In the final question posed to school trustee candidates, The Progress asked why Chilliwack residents, whether they have children or not, should vote in the Nov. 30 byelection.

These were their responses.

Harold Schmidt: Who you vote for will determine policies that affect yours and every child’s education, including, among others, those with special needs, giftedness, and those who are bullied. A large percentage of your property taxes are set by and designated for school district use. The freedoms, rights, and privileges you enjoy now can only survive if individuals exercise these as a responsibility and a right in any democratic process.

Corey Neyrinck: The community should go out and vote because everyone always is saying nothing ever changes. The way to get things to change is to go out and vote each and every time that an election is held. I have heard countless times it is only one vote it will not make a difference but if 1,000 people say that nothing will ever change.

Karen Jarvis: One of the goals within the school district’s strategic plan is to “create a community in which students, parents, staff, and community partners are engaged and value working together to support student achievement.” As a community partner, voting in this byelection will show that you are both engaged and support student achievement. Our students are our future! Show your support for student success, vote Karen Jarvis for school trustee on November 30th.

Ben Besler: Every trustee’s voice will help contribute to either the harmony or discord that sets the tone for our school district. My opponents in this campaign have voiced their plans to change existing policies to be more tolerant of drugs and alcohol in our schools and less tolerant of business support for school programs. I think our primary concerns are keeping our students safe and providing every opportunity for students to reach their greatest potentials.

Rob Stelmaschuk: Voting is the one choice that is totally yours. You are by yourself no outside influence; the one time you and only you make the choice. No one knows how you voted or who you voted for, the freedom of choice.