Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, says people need to focus their attention on the upcoming byelection in Chilliwack. (BCSTA image)

Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, says people need to focus their attention on the upcoming byelection in Chilliwack. (BCSTA image)

‘Let’s not talk about Barry’ says BCSTA president on Chilliwack trustee

Higginson says impending Chilliwack byelection will require ‘laser focus’ to ensure balance of power

It’s time to stop giving Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld attention, says the president of the B.C. School Trustees Association.

“Let’s talk about Barry,” tweeted Stephanie Higginson. “Or better yet, let’s not talk about Barry.”

This was in response to a social media post in which the Chilliwack trustee called three Chilliwack Progress employees a slur used against people with developmental disabilities. Neufeld has since removed the post, but the backlash has been heavy and includes calls for his resignation.

But Higginson says when Neufeld attracts controversy and people ask him to resign, “he digs deeper in his resolve to stay.”

“My suspicion is that every time his name gets mentioned and his hurtful and hateful rantings get shared, it emboldens him and his followers,” Higginson added.

She is urging people to focus on the importance of Chilliwack’s impending school board byelection, pledging to use her platform to educate people about the process. She explained that the benefit of a corporate board model for school districts, which some say is flawed, gives no individual trustee power, and that that’s a good thing.

“It protects against the ability of a rogue trustee with views and ideologies that run counter to the purpose of public education, to have their views reflected in the operations of the school district,” she added.

Chilliwack will have a byelection in the near future, as trustee Dan Coulter has been elected as MLA for Chilliwack. This will leave Chilliwack with a board of just six members, with viewpoints of trustees often split. While the byelection has not been called, Coulter will be resigning from the board to focus on his new role in Victoria.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at journalists

Higginson spoke directly to Chilliwack voters about the importance of coming out to vote in the byelection.

“You have lost one of the strongest, most effective progressive trustees in the province,” she says of Coulter. “This byelection will be the most important election in a long time.”

School board byelections generally have a dismal turnout. In 2013, voter turnout was just 2.3 per cent. In 2015, Bob Patterson won with just 833 votes.

Higginson noted that even with Neufeld’s controversial comments and “hurtful, hate filled views” he was re-elected in regular election in 2018 with the second highest number of votes. And because of that, she says, the focus needs to be on voting in a progressive trustee.

“We must work with laser focus to ensure that the progressive views that were seen in the provincial election are solidified at the corporate board of education table,” she tweeted. “The balance of power is hanging by a literal thread right now. Do not lose sight of what must be done.”

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association has also called for a shift in focus, to shine a positive light on Chilliwack in the wake of Neufeld’s comment. They are asking people to use the hashtag “ThisIsMyChilliwack along with positive stories and photographs.

READ MORE: Chilliwack Teachers’ Association revive #ThisIsMyChilliwack social media campaign


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Chilliwack School District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP Emergency Response Team members on Charles Street in Chilliwack on Jan. 15, 2021 after an undisclosed threat was made by a male. The matter was resolved peacefully. (Darcy Loewen photo)
Heavy Chilliwack RCMP presence on Charles Street Friday after ‘disturbing’ phone call

Man who made threats to harm self and others eventually taken into custody unharmed

Two people were in a vehicle that rolled over on Highway No. 1 near Lickman Road. They are now out of the vehicle. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vehicle rolls over on Highway 1 near Lickman Road in Chilliwack

Two people in SUV at time of collision in westbound lanes

Both eastbound lanes are completely west of exit 135 on Highway 1. (Google maps)
UPDATE: Traffic now getting through following car collision on Highway 1 in Chilliwack

Incident happened shortly just west of exit 135 for Agassiz/Harrison Hot Springs

Carin Bondar announced Nov. 26 that she will be running in the upcoming byelection to replace outgoing school trustee Dan Coulter. (Sarah Sovereign Photography)
Chilliwack school board candidate Carin Bondar calls for vote-by-mail option

As the COVID pandemic continues, Bondar fears voter turnout will be low for next month’s byelection

The route of the pink parade. The Record has blackened out the name of the teen. Facebook photo.
Pink-vehicle parade to be held Sunday in support of transgender teen assaulted in Mission

Teen and family to watch parade drive single file along waterfront at 3 p.m., Jan. 17

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read