Candidate list growing for Chilliwack school trustee byelection

Gosselin, Praat and Jarvis all put names forward to fill vacant seat at school board table

Karen Jarvis is running for Chilliwack school board trustee in the Dec. 12 byelection.

Karen Jarvis is running for Chilliwack school board trustee in the Dec. 12 byelection.

The list of names on the ballot for school trustee is getting longer, and diverse.

Angelina Gosselin was the first to announce her intention to run.

She is currently on educational leave from the RCMP, where she works as a community wellness worker within Sto:lo Service Agency’s Health Services. Gosselin has decades of volunteer experience, including board work for the Upper Fraser Valley MADD.

On her Facebook page, Gosselin outlines some of the issues that have motivated her to run.

“Our aboriginal students are at 56% (completion rate),” she writes. “I would like to see Chilliwack continue to provide one of the best public education in the province. Yes we are a diverse community. So let’s ensure the curriculum reflects that, and support is given to parents, students, teachers, and other partner groups to ensure the success of all our youth.”

Then this week, one of Chilliwack secondary’s most recent graduates also announced she is running.

Megan Praat, 18, already has experience working with the Chilliwack School District. She sits on the board’s budget committee and the strategic planning committee. In her final year at CSS, Praat was the student body president. She is now a student at UFV, working toward a bachelor’s in business administration. She was well aware of the work trustees do, and had met the late Martha Wiens numerous times throughout the years.

When the elections were announced, she began to do her research and made the choice easily. She hopes to bring a fresh voice to the table, from the perspective of a very recent student who has felt the impacts of budget decisions.

“I think there’s a disconnect between students and what’s going on in the classroom, and what the higher levels might be aware of,” she said. “There must be a bridge in the that intergenerational gap, and I will bring that to the board.”

Finally, past candidate Karen Jarvis (pictured at top) has confirmed that she will run.

“As a school coach, I see the benefits of being there for students and pushing them” Jarvis stated in an email. “I believe that when we focus on relationships first, we have a great chance for buy in. If students know you care, you have a great opportunity to teach them. That same relationship building is necessary with staff, administrators and current board members.”

A full list of candidates won’t be available until after nominations close on Nov. 6. The official declaration of candidates will take place on Nov. 16, allowing time for candidates time to withdraw during the week prior.

Thinking of running?

Time is running out to be considered for a role as school board trustee in  Chilliwack.

A byelection is being held Dec. 12 to replace the late Trustee Martha Wiens, who served the community for 25 years.

The nomination period ends on Friday, Nov. 6 at 4 p.m., with all paperwork required to be filed by then. School board trustees serve a four-year term, with the current term ending in 2018.

To be qualified, a candidate must be a Canadian citizen, be 18 or older on voting day, a resident of B.C. for at least six months immediately before the day nomination papers are filed, and must not be disqualified by the Local Government Act from voting in an election, or from being nominated, being elected to, or holding office.

Paperwork and guidelines, including an overview on the role of school board trustees, is available on the City of Chilliwack website.

Chilliwack had a school board trustee byelection as recently as 2013, when Dan Coulter was voted in. He filled the vacancy left by Louise Piper, who had resigned.

Voter turnout for that byelection was tepid, with only 1,453 ballots cast. Coulter earned just over 500 of those votes, and was re-elected with strong numbers in the general election in 2014.