The newest trustees to form Chilliwack’s board of education topped the polls Saturday evening.
Walt Krahn garnered 3,923 votes, nearly 1,500 more than the seventh seat, and fellow newcomer Barry Neufeld brought in 3,505 votes.
Incumbents Silvia Dyck, Martha Wiens, Louise Piper, Heather Maahs, and Doug McKay followed respectfully.
The only incumbent not to be re-elected was Darlene Wahlstrom.
Krahn, who has lived in Chilliwack his whole life and who worked as a principal in the district for several years before retiring in 2007, was already removing signs in the snow with his wife and son when the results started coming through.
He was thrilled to top the polls.
“I believe there is a very, very strong appetite in the community for [trustees] to work together,” said Krahn, who doesn’t think major changes need to be made at the board level, “just a quick little check in.”
“It is my dream to work together collaboratively with the entire board and our senior administration,” he said. “But we also need to go well beyond our board, and become highly inclusive with all our stakeholders – particularly our parents.”
Barry Neufeld, who served as school trustee for 15 years prior to the last election where he didn’t run, listened to the results on the radio with mixed emotions.
“On the one hand I was happy, but I also know it’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “There’s some controversy on the board right now, and there’s just two of us new people.”
Neufeld hopes he and Krahn can help Chilliwack’s board of education become more unified.
He suggested trustees agree on a code of ethics where once a decision has been made, all trustees stand by that decision – whether they agreed with it or not.
“I have no problem with debate and even descent prior to a decision being made; you can put your boxing gloves on and go to it,” Neufeld said. “But once a decision is made, they should be united. A board isn’t just one trustee, it’s a group of 7 that make the difference. That’s what a school board is. It’s supposed to be a unity.
“There are good people on this board that have different gifts and abilities,” said Neufeld. “And I think each of us need to respect those different gifts and abilities.”
Neufeld’s goal over the next three years is to rebuild relationships with staff, parents, and students.
“I hope that at the end of three years, the community will have a respect for the school board, and that they will honestly believe that we are all working together for the best interest of students,” he said.
The new board will be inaugurated at a special board meeting on Dec. 6.