GSA-supporting candidates win out in Edmonton Public School Board election
Two new public trustees and five new Edmonton Catholic trustees after Monday vote
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Edmonton’s public school board welcomed two new faces Monday after a contentious campaign.
Shelagh Dunn, a psychologist who has done phD research on bullying, upset incumbent Orville Chubb in Ward C with more than twice as many votes as Chubb at press time.
Trisha Estabrooks, meanwhile, won a four-way race for the seat vacated by Ray Martin in Ward D.
Dunn and Estabrooks are both vocal supporters of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools.
Their wins solidified a victory for socially progressive candidates, as Bridget Stirling – who was challenged by socially conservative candidate Tyler Duce – kept her seat by a wide margin in Ward G.
Chair Michelle Draper, who was acclaimed in Ward B, said she was concerned after the heated campaign that Edmonton Public might end up with new faces who would make it harder to run a cohesive board.
“I was concerned that there might be, perhaps, some candidates who were going to make that more challenging for that to manage as board chair, but it looks like that’s not going to be an issue,” Draper said.
Sex education and Gay-Straight Alliances proved to be central election issues in both school board elections as various advocacy groups sent out surveys to gauge candidates’ positions.
Public board incumbents Cheryl Johner (Ward A), Ken Gibson (Ward E), Michael Janz (Ward F), Nathan Ip (Ward H) and Sherry Adams (Ward I) were poised to keep their seats at press time.
The Catholic school board has mostly new faces, after four of seven trustees chose not to run this year.
Sandra Palazzo won a vacant seat handily in Ward 72 to replace outgoing trustee Larry Kowalczyk, while Carla Smiley won the seat vacated by Cindy Olsen in Ward 73.
Long-serving trustee Debbie Engel retained her seat in Ward 74 and board Chair Laura Thibert won a three-way race in Ward 77.
Thibert had reprimanded socially progressive trustees Marilyn Bergstra and Patricia Grell in recent months for speaking out against board decisions.
Terry Harris won the seat Grell left open in Ward 71, while Bergstra was losing a tight race with Lisa Turchansky in Ward 76 at press time.
In Ward 75, Alene Mutata was leading a tight three-way race against Michael Brown and Glen Argan at press time, in a seat vacated by John Acheson.