By Tim Kalinowski on October 17, 2017.
While longtime SD76 trustee Terry Riley went down in defeat last night by a whisker’s length, all other incumbents were re-elected by a wide margin.
Chair Rick Massini will be joined by fellow incumbents Deborah Forbes, Catherine Wilson-Fraser and Carolyn Freeman for another four years on council. Newly elected trustee Celina Symmonds will join them as the fifth trustee, taking Riley’s place.
Symmonds was eager to begin her new role as a public school trustee after resigning her city council seat to run for the board prior to election being called.
“I think there will be different decisions and different challenges (in this role),” said Symmonds. “I look forward to them, and I am excited because, at the end of the day, if we want to end poverty in our community the best place to do it is in the schools.”
Deborah Forbes won the second highest vote share after chair Rick Massini.
“For me this election means confirmation the board is on the right track,” said Forbes. “Nothing in education is ever done. It’s a process. But this gives me some confidence the directions we have been moving in are OK with the public.”
Carolyn Freeman showed a lot of fire and passion in the campaign, and she was happy the voters responded to that passion to give her a second term.
“I am really excited and humbled I have another opportunity to do this,” she said. “I think the voters validated that all kids means all kids. We are an inclusive district, and I am very proud of the citizens for recognizing that is of utmost importance.”
Board vice-chair Catherine Wilson-Fraser said she was also honoured to have been picked for a second term as trustee.
“I feel great,” she confirmed. “We have worked hard as a board, and I am excited about moving forward. It’s a great win for public education today.”
Current chair Rick Massini won the most votes of any trustee during the election. He was elated by the win.
“It’s a great relief,” he said. “I think there are a couple of very clear messages re-affirming the board has done the job these past four years, especially on our policy about gender and sexual identity.”
Massini also had kind words for his defeated colleague Terry Riley.
“Terry is a tremendous resource,” said Massini. “He is without a doubt the most experienced person on the board … We will miss that.”
Riley said he was sad to be leaving after all these past 15 years on the school board, but was gratified to be leaving the board in good hands.
“What I am most proud of was in the seven years I was chair I was able to get three new schools and a learning centre built, and that is what I wanted to get accomplished. I only ran again because all these other things were going on (with Policy 622). I didn’t need to worry. I am pleased it seems everyone who got elected are people who strongly supported our position.”
When asked about his future plans, Riley said he wasn’t thinking that far ahead yet.
“Old soldiers never die,” said Riley. “They just fade away. So I guess it is time for me to clear the field for younger people. That’s what’s happening, and I think it is good.”