New Chilliwack school board sworn in after divisive election

Incumbent Dan Coulter acclaimed as chair with Willow Reichelt winning a vote for vice-chair

Chilliwack’s new school board was sworn in Tuesday evening and while the divisiveness of the election was not unaddressed directly at the meeting, the conflict reared its head indirectly.

The inauguration followed a tumultuous election campaign where an anti-bullying resource designed to protect LGBTQ students was strongly opposed by a slate of candidates with an admitted religious focus led by incumbent Barry Neufeld.

Neufeld along with fellow anti-SOGI 123 candidates Darrell Furgason and incumbent Heather Maahs were elected to the board.

The election culminated in an expensive and lengthy recount caused by fellow anti-SOGI 123 candidate Kaethe Jones who lost the last seat on the board to Jared Mumford.

• READ MORE: Only one vote of 24,700 ballots changes after Chilliwack school board election recount

On the other side of the SOGI 123 debate were a number of progressive candidates in favour of the anti-bullying resource. Elected was incumbent Dan Coulter, along with Mumford, Willow Reichelt and David Swankey.

The meeting Tuesday, which lasted less than 20 minutes, involved electing a board chair, vice-chair, in addition to representatives to the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and the B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA).

With the board split along distinct four-three lines, it was unsurprising to most watching that Coulter was nominated and then acclaimed as chair of the board.

Coulter then called for nominations for vice-chair. Neufeld nominated Maahs, and Swankey nominated Reichelt. Both accepted their nominations and spoke briefly to why they felt they should be elected.

Maahs suggested that having her and Coulter as chair and vice-chair made sense given the experience they both have, and she alluded to the divisiveness in the election suggesting that since voters chose her and Neufeld and Furgason, the board leadership should represent that diversity of views.

“I think in view of the results after the election,” Maahs said. “I think the voters spoke in who they elected to the board and I think that it would be in the best interests of this board to look towards a really good working relationship having myself and you [Coulter] as the chair and vice-chair.”

Reichelt countered that she should be elected, again alluding to the SOGI 123 discussion pointing also to her experience as a student, parent and teacher in the Chilliwack school district.

“I also think it’s very important in the current environment to send a strong message that we have an inclusive board so therefore I think I’m a better choice as board vice-chair,” she said.

Reichelt was elected.

After that, was nominations for BCPSEA and another vote ensued.

Neufeld nominated Maahs, while Coulter nominated Mumford, and Mumford was chosen. Maahs was then acclaimed as the alternate, again nominated by Neufeld.

Then came the final position, the board’s representative to the BCSTA. Mumford nominated Swankey and he was acclaimed. At that point, the progressive foursome ran out of names, and Neufeld put forward Furgason as the BCSTA alternate. He was acclaimed.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

• READ MORE: VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Rain in the forecast Sunday, sun expected by Tuesday in Chilliwack

Chilliwack has been treated to fairly warm and dry weather over the past two weeks

PHOTOS: Hand-made creations galore at Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market

The 45th annual event features 180 vendors and is a fundraiser for the Chilliwack Community Arts Council

Warrant issued for Chilliwack prolific offender

Do not attempt to apprehend David Allen Geoghegan, 29, police caution

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through

VIDEO: New supportive housing in Chilliwack almost ready to welcome residents

Grand opening Friday saw dignitaries join with health, policing, and housing reps on Trethewey

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have been called in

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Most Read