By Peggy Revell on October 17, 2017.
Medicine Hat’s Catholic voters elected three incumbents and two newcomers Monday to serve as separate school board trustees.
“It is going to be a different perspective, sitting in a different chair in the board room,” said vote leader David Leahy, who served as superintendent for the board until stepping down five years ago. Leahy received the highest number of votes — 1,976 — of all candidates. Leahy said he is both humbled and a “little surprised” at this result.
Incumbents Robert Risling, Peter Grad, and Dick Mastel were re-elected with 1,857, 1,819, and 1,768 votes respectively while newcomer Kathy Glasgo received 1,802 votes to nab the other seat.
“I’m grateful and I want to thank all those who place their confidence in me,” said Risling, who will begin his second term as trustee after being acclaimed in the previous election. “I appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve the community as a Catholic trustee.”
“I just see good things ahead of us as a board.”
“I’m just so thankful that the electorate has trusted me to be on the board again,” said Grad. “I’ve a real passion for this, and I was really hoping to be back on the board. There’s a lot to be done still.”
Mastel said he was “happy with the results,” adding that three returning trustees will help provide continuity and stability for the board. “Going from four to five (trustees) will change the dynamic of the board. Two new people will make it different —but I’m looking forward to working with them.”
And there’s lots that the board will have on its table — including boundaries for the new school and the McCoy modernization, said Mastel, and he wants trustees to focus on growing the district.
The board will be saying its goodbye to incumbent Regina Durst, who finished sixth with 1,301 votes.
“I am very thankful for the last four years, and I truly appreciate and I feel privileged to have served the Catholic board,” said Durst, who said she will continue to remain involved in the school community. “I feel confident in the new board, and the work that we started, that it will continue.”
“I’m going to miss Regina very much,” said Grad. “She was magnificent, let me put it that way.”
“She was a good trustee,” said Mastel. “I valued her opinion, she was very much an advocate for kids, and parents, and we’re going to miss that perspective. I will miss that.”
The remaining candidates, Jeffrey Neumann, Bonnie Stafford-Mayer and Alicia Doud, finished with 1,007, 895 and 826 votes respectively.
The race was a change of pace from the previous one where all candidates were acclaimed.
Risling said that the election was a great opportunity to have conversations with people in the community regarding Catholic education.
“Anything can happen in an election,” said Grad, admitting he was nervous. “But I also want to say, it was so much fun to get out there and put up signs and talk with folks and hand out pamphlets around schools. We got really good reception.”
“I think one of the immediate impacts of this campaign is that Catholic voters in Medicine Hat should be very happy that nine people of that quality stepped up, it was quite a selection to choose from for this race,” said Leahy said. “It’s very encouraging to have nine people to run this time.”