Who’s running for school trustee?

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Four veteran trustees will be riding off into the sunset next month as they elect not to run in this fall’s municipal election.

Greater St. Albert Catholic, St. Albert Public and Sturgeon Public Schools are all holding trustee elections next month. Some 19 positions are up for grabs between them.

The Gazette surveyed all known trustee candidates this week to find out who would and wouldn’t be running this October.

New challenger

Calli Stromner is the only non-incumbent thus far to tell the Gazette of her plans to run for trustee this fall. She’s seeking a spot on the St. Albert Public board.

A former town councillor for Hinton and past communications manager with Sturgeon County, Stromner is the president of the St. Albert Gators Triathlon Club and general manager of the Alberta Triathlon Association.

“Running has transformed my life,” she said, and she wanted to introduce more physical activity into local schools to improve student health and focus. She also wanted to work with St. Albert Transit officials to make better use of city buses to get kids to and from school.

Catholic returnees

Joe Becigneul, Joan Crockett, Noreen Radford, Serena Shaw, Cathy Proulx, and René Tremblay confirmed they would seek re-election to the Greater St. Albert Catholic board.

Elected in a by-election last year to the St. Albert ward, Becigneul said being a trustee was a very rewarding experience.

“I think Catholic education is under fire from multiple sides,” he said, when asked why he was running again, with some parties calling for its elimination.

“We need strong leadership, a strong slate of trustees that are willing to dig in their heels and fight.”

Becigneul said his time as communications manager with then-MP Brent Rathgeber as well as his many years as a board member and/or chairperson with a long list of community organizations (including the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce) made him well suited to work with government on this issue.

In an email, Radford said she was seeking her third term in the Morinville ward to see through the completion of the new St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy and ensure a strong partnership between the town, the province, and the board.

“There is a commitment necessary to fulfil the responsibilities of a trustee,” she said, which she has shown through her active involvement at board meetings, town council, the Rotary Club of Morinville, school councils, St. Jean Baptiste Parish and community events. If re-elected, she hoped to continue to lobby for a better way to address rising transportation costs.

Tremblay was elected in a by-election two years ago in Morinville, and said he wanted to continue to advocate for stronger Catholic education.

“I believe faith-based learning is necessary for lifelong learning,” he said, as having faith in God goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to social justice.

As a Franco-Albertan, Tremblay said he hoped to grow French immersion in the district if re-elected, and to continue to improve relations with Indigenous communities as a member of the board’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit committee.

Shaw said she would continue to advocate for publicly funded inclusive Catholic education if she won a second term in St. Albert, and was proud to have helped the board start two new schools and modernize two others last term.

“I think I have a strong understanding of governance,” she said, as well as extensive volunteer experience with groups such as St. Albert’s community services advisory board and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (of which she is a board member).

Proulx said she was seeking an eighth term in the Legal ward to finish off numerous projects, including the board’s two new schools, School Act amendments, and efforts to get more school sites and to promote mental health awareness. She said that her approachable nature and 20 years of experience on the board and in the Legal region made her a top pick for trustee.

Crockett did not respond to a request for interview by deadline. Rosaleen McEvoy said she would not run again.

Back for public

Kim Armstrong, Cheryl Dumont, Glenys Edwards and Sheri Wright said they would run again for St. Albert Public trustee.

A four-year trustee with 35 years experience in the district as a teacher, principal and associate superintendent, Edwards said she was passionate about education and proud of the board’s work last term to advocate for new schools, support gay-straight alliances and create an Indigenous advisory committee.

“Our district will be hiring a new superintendent,” Edwards said, as veteran superintendent Barry Wowk was retiring at the end of this school year, and the board would have to work hard next term to find a replacement of his calibre. It would also have to address the district’s high-school space crunch, either through a new school or an expansion to its existing ones.

In an email, Wright said she ran for trustee four years ago because she cared about kids and was not afraid to fight for their needs.

“I care about literacy and numeracy and I know that future generations will have to be smarter and more resilient than we are today to face the big challenges that are coming,” she said.

Wright said she held many conversations with students, parents and teachers about mental health and worked with the board to make it a priority in the district. Her focus was to advocate for new schools, better resources and an improved curriculum to ensure the best student outcomes.

Dumont said she was running again in part to help find a replacement for superintendent Wowk. She also wanted to revamp the district’s healthy living policy (which she introduced) to better address mental health, improve student engagement with the curriculum, and continue work on the provincial curriculum review.

Dumont said she was a strong advocate for children’s education at the local and provincial levels, and had lobbied to have coding added to the provincial curriculum. She was passionate about affordable housing and adult education, and serves on the boards of the St. Albert Housing Society and St. Albert Further Education groups. She is also a member of the Philanthropic Education Organization – an international group that helps women get into post-secondary.

A social worker in Edmonton who is working on Indigenous issues through the group Moving Forward with Reconciliation, Armstrong said she was seeking her third term in office to continue lobbying for a new high-school site and to help pick the board’s next superintendent. She also hoped to start more round-table discussions so residents could weigh in on the future of education.

Trustee Gerry Martins said he would not seek re-election.

Sturgeon School trustee Misty Featherley said she planned to seek her second term as the representative for Morinville. She was invested in the board, as she had four kids attending the board’s schools, and helped the board craft its new gender equality policy in her first term in office. She was also co-founder of the Morinville’s Marvellous Moms group. If re-elected, she hopes to see through the completion of the board’s new junior high, create more partnerships with Alexander First Nation, and expand the French immersion and Reggio teaching programs.

The Gazette did not hear back from trustees Tracy Nowak, Liz Kohle, or Terry Jewell by deadline. Trustees Wendy Miller and Shelley Porter said they would not seek re-election.

The Gazette will announce other trustee candidates as they come forward.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.