Top Stories of 2013: Dan Coulter earns seat on Chilliwack school board

Chilliwack school board lost a trustee and gained a trustee this year.

Chilliwack school board lost a trustee and gained a trustee this year.

After nine months leave (due to undisclosed medical reasons) former board chair Louise Piper tendered her resignation in August.

The board had hoped to continue working as a team of six until the next election, but was ordered by the B.C. Education Ministry to hold a byelection, given Piper’s resignation fell four months short of the election year.

(Had Piper resigned in an election year, a byelection would not have been required.)

Six candidates stepped up to the plate – all ranging in backgrounds.

There was the board meeting regular Karen Jarvis; the concerned parent and PAC president Corey Neyrinck; the retired school teacher Harold Schmidt; the actor Rob Stelmaschuk; and the political heavy weights Ben Besler and Dan Coulter.

It was the race between Coulter’s left-wing side and Besler’s right-wing side that was most heated, mostly coming from those on the sidelines than the candidates themselves.

For the month leading up to the byelection, social media sites lit up with back-and-forth between Coulter and Besler supporters.

However, come election day, only 2.3 per cent of Chilliwack’s voting population cast a ballot.

In the end, Coulter finished with the win.

But the celebration started too early.

Coulter was prematurely sworn into office the Tuesday following the byelection. The board was notified by the City one week later it had erred, which left Coulter on the sidelines for what would have been his first full meeting as a school trustee.

According to legislation, trustees can’t be sworn in until the recount period has passed.

But the City, too, had erred; Coulter could have been properly sworn in at the Dec. 10 public board meeting as that would have surpassed the recount period.

Coulter wasn’t phased by the mishap.

“It’s one meeting,” he said. “I’ll be sitting in on a lot of meetings.”

Coulter was officially sworn into office on Dec. 13. His first full public board meeting will be Jan. 21.

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