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.

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

Just Posted

Chilliwack loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people who traveled along Keith Wilson Road

Classic cars make a stop in Chilliwack during Brogan’s Ride Against Cancer

With the weather cooperating, more classics than expected hit the road for the fundraiser

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Cat owners in Chilliwack celebrate National Kitten Day

Chilliwack Progress readers share photos of their favourite felines on National Kitten Day

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read