Results from the Oct. 18 Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees election had incumbent trustee Judi Hunter re-elected in Ward 5, while newcomer Shelley Kinley earned enough votes to claim Ward 2 in the east.
Both trustees will serve the next four years on the RVS Board of Trustees, representing the public schools in their respective communities. Ward 5 includes schools in Bearspaw, Bragg Creek, rural Cochrane and Springbank, while Ward 2 includes schools in Langdon, Indus and southeast Rocky View County.
In Ward 2, career educator Shelley Kinley took the seat with 1,127 votes on election night, while Langdon parent Brandi-Lee Mouck came in second place with 392 votes.
Kinley said it is an honour to have been elected to represent her ward. She thanked past and present trustees for their knowledge and support, as well as her community, friends, and family for their encouragement and commitment throughout her campaign.
“Working in service for my community is definitely in my wheelhouse,” she said. “During my campaign, I met with parents who offered their concerns – interrupted learning, lack of social interaction, vaccinations, masking, bullying, and the new proposed curriculum are on the top of their list.
“I want to address these issues with the board, [and] brainstorm suggestions and solutions in order to provide feedback to Ward 2 families.”
In Ward 5, incumbent trustee Judi Hunter took the seat with 1,970 votes. Contender Gerry Neustaedter followed behind with 1,031 votes, while former RVC councillor Jerry Arshinoff ended the night in third place with 945 votes.
Hunter said she is thankful residents of west Rocky View County have given her another mandate to represent them as their school trustee for the next four years.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with and for my schools and communities over the past four years and look forward to continuing that work,” she said in an email statement. “COVID presented many challenges for children and families and that was evident during the campaign. Many parents voiced concerns over the new curriculum.”
She added this campaign was different than her previous one in 2017, due to the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The education of our children is of utmost importance to all of us, [and] I would like to recognize all the candidates who stepped forward to contribute to this election,” she said.
Fiona Gilbert, the previous RVS Board Chair and Ward 6 trustee, reclaimed her position as Cochrane’s representative, beating out contenders Simon Ongom and Peter Fortna. Gilbert, who will serve a third term on RVS’ board, ended the night with 1,833 votes, She was followed by runner-up Ongom with 1,601 votes, while Fortna trailed behind in third place with 1,288 votes.
“I'm relieved, excited and ready to get back at it,” she said. “We are jumping right into things with some decision-making coming at us around modular classrooms and capital planning. We also spent a lot of time last year talking about developing a strategic plan for the division and that is something that the board has never really had. That will definitely be a big focus of mine from a board perspective.”
RVS’ largest ward is Ward 3, which includes the public schools in Airdrie. Two incumbents – Melyssa Bowen and Todd Brand – won re-election, and will be joined by Fred Burley, who snagged the third and final seat.
Bowen led the race with 3,902 votes, Brand finished runner-up with 3,309 votes, and Burley ended the night with 3,182 votes.
The day after the election, Bowen said in an email statement she is eager to serve a second term as trustee. She is excited to continue representing her community and is appreciative of the opportunity.
“I love this city and the work I have been part of over the last four years has been incredibly meaningful,” she said in the statement. “My passion for my community, public education and good governance are stronger than ever.
“I care deeply about providing inclusive and equitable education and believe strongly in the engagement and advocacy that brings us together to make it possible here in Airdrie.”
Other candidates in Ward 3 included Pam Thursfield, Jason Spratt, and Aftan Forrest.
The trustee positions for Ward 1 (Chestermere) and Ward 4 (north Rocky View county) were acclaimed in this year’s election. Shali Baziuk will continue as Chestermere’s public school trustee, while Norma Lang will continue to represent schools in Crossfield, Beiseker, and Kathyrn.
The election results were made official on Oct. 22. The winning candidates will be sworn in and a board chair will be voted for during the board’s first organizational meeting on Oct. 28.
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