Chilliwack School Board candidate David Swankey says the withdrawal of a rival candidate could prove expensive for the Chilliwack School District.
Lewis Point dropped out of the race Sept. 28, offering a “personal medical matter” as the reason, but the Ministry for Education and Child Care declined to take him off the ballot because he pulled the plug too late.
The official campaign period opened Sept. 27.
When Chilliwackians cast their votes, Point will be on the ballot, votes for him will be counted, and Swankey said that if Point’s medical matter prevents him from taking office, an expensive by-election will be needed.
“I want to respect the privacy of Mr. Point and I do not wish to cause him or his family further stress at this time,” Swankey wrote in a news release. “My concern is about process and the good of our community following October 15th. An unnecessary by-election, immediately following a general election, does not serve the interest of Chilliwack, and would come at significant and unbudgeted cost to the Chilliwack School District.”
Section 50 of the School Act, trustees are required to take their oath of office within 45 days of being elected. If they can’t, their seat is vacated and a by-election triggered, with the school district footing the cost.
When a by-election was held in February, 2021 to fill a seat vacated by newly-elected MLA Dan Coulter, the cost was $135,851.
That according to Chilliwack School District secretary-treasurer Gerry Slykhuis.
“Voters need to be aware of this consideration when making that important decision on October 15,” Swankey wrote.
He also took aim at the political movement Point was affiliated with, because Point will have ParentsVoice BC next to his name on the ballot. ParentsVoice BC is a conservative political organization running a handful of school board candidates across the province, with the stated goal to ‘take back our schools.’
Richard Procee and Elliott Friesen are still in the race under the ParentsVoiceBC banner, though they have been missing from the campaign trail aside from a few election signs. They haven’t been at public candidate forums and declined to answer a questionnaire sent out by the Chilliwack Teachers Association.
“ParentsVoice BC has made no visible effort to engage with the community of Chilliwack or key stakeholders in public education,” Swankey said. “I am calling on them to clarify their position and connection with their endorsed candidates.
“Voters deserve to know what the choice is when they receive their ballot and this silence from a provincial partisan group seeking to influence the outcome across the province is more than disappointing, it is unacceptable.”