Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Chips are Down
School Board candidates face tough crowd at final ACM
Five of the six School Board candidates fielded questions at the final ACM Wednesday. Dan coulter (L to R), Corey Neyrinck, Karen Jarvis, Rob Stelmaschuck and Ben Besler. Below, Karen Jarvis speaks to about 50 in the room.
ow that School Board Trustee Candidates have laid their cards on the table, and the All-Candidate Meetings (ACMs) have come and gone, voters can stand back and see what they've got.
First and foremost the community can be thankful to the six candidates for being heroes and giving voters a choice.
Organizers of the final meeting Wednesday at Chilliwack Middle School, managed to resolve previous logistical issues, and as a result, drew a crowd of about 50 people and almost a full slate of candidates.
From a voter standpoint, it was the perfect crowd for an All-Candidates meeting. From the candidates standpoint, this was a tough, scary, well-educated group of teachers, board members, union leaders, directors, politicians, parents and even some students — many of whom with a deeper understanding of the issues than the candidates themselves. No one was being fooled in that room that night.
If voters call it like they see it, then this is an easy horse race to bet on.
The Claimer in the pack, Dan Coulter, is running true-to-form and hitting his stride in the campaign as they dig in on the rail and round the Clubhouse turn, before heading down the home stretch to the wire November 30th. Based on the candidate's ACM performances, Coulter is at least a full length ahead of fellow frontrunner Ben Besler followed by Karen Jarvis, Rob Stelmaschuk, Corey Neyrinck and Harold Schmidt, who was a no-show due to an urgent family matter.
Coulter has articulated his answers well and set the tempo throughout both ACM's. He's even-keeled and stuck to his guns on his three-pillar platform of enhancing trades training opportunities, engaging Native students and working on a better high school completion rate. That has paid dividends as other candidates state they agree and just shuffle in behind him on those issues.
Obviously, Coulter takes himself, and running for the job of Trustee seriously, and hasn't made the mistake that some of the other candidates have where they've taken themselves too seriously in their campaigns.
It has been reported that the School Board has been somewhat dysfunctional at times, and how there are some diverse personalities that hamper the decision-making process.
Jarvis' inexperience is evident and she comes across in an animated way with arm-waving and finger-pointing, which is just what the board doesn't need — more emotionalizing.
Jarvis is a resident of the tight-knit Ryder Lake community and board member of the Ryder Lake Famer's Institute, so it wouldn't be far-fetched for her to clean up the votes in that area of the city.
It's hard to rationalize her "I'm the best man for the job" slogan, unless it's a new Shania Twain song.
Belser bombed on some questions and seems to have all but conceded the race to Coulter.
"Well, I'm not the frontrunner," he told the Voice after the meeting broke up.
Apparently, there's been some kind of a witch hunt, or twitch hunt if you will, going on in Twitter where there have been accusations of questionable and hot-headed posts from the Besler camp, which begs the question; what's so social about social media?
Is Bes done like dinner? Clearly he's shell-shocked from that. He does have plenty of support from the Liberal camp, but some have speculated that support may fade after the Twitter melee. He likely realizes now the mistake he made with social media during the campaign because the public haggling over issues served no other purpose but to get him off his game and he seems to have lost some focus.
Stelmaschuck ran in the last municipal election. He did it with minimum campaign funds and it's been that same lack of funds in this campaign holding him back from his full potential on the campaign trail. He's an old school base guy with good intentions, but quite hard-line comparatively on some of the issues.
At the ACM meeting, Stelmaschuk knew what he wanted to say and he got his point across.
We'll see him back again. Most likely on the municipal slate November 15, 2014. But until he takes himself seriously, in terms of monetary backing, then he's just flogging a dead horse.
Neyrinck is a fish out of water. He's a sincere young dad who works at Five Guy's Burgers. He was relaxed and at ease during the ACM and even munched cookies while candidates spoke.
But if this guy sticks with it then he may be a contender in the future because he brings a fresh perspective. But he's not ready for the big leagues yet.
The votes are going to be hard-won and far and few between. Candidates will really have to dig deep and reach into brave new worlds out of their comfort zones and into each other's territories if they are going to win this gritty contest.
See more photos below.
Advance Voting Opportunities:
Wednesday November 27, 2013
Wednesday November 30, 2013
Advance Voting Opportunities will be held at City Hall, 8550 Young Road, Chilliwack, BC on
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, and Wednesday, November 27, 2013, between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm each day.
General Voting Day
Saturday, November 30, 2013, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the following locations:
Chilliwack Middle School Gymnasium
46354 Yale Road
Cultus Lake Community School
71 Sunnyside Avenue
Sardis Elementary School Gymnasium
45775 Manuel Road
Rosedale Traditional Community School
50850 Yale Road
For more information, download the School District pdf file here.
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