For the first time since 2004, St. Albert and Morinville electors will also be able to cast a ballot for school trustee.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the day following the nomination deadline, there are multiple candidates for both the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional District (GSACRD) seats in St. Albert and Morinville, as well as the Protestant school division.
The biggest surprise to come out of nomination day wasn't who was running, but who wasn't. Though she had already filed a candidate profile with the Gazette and appeared to be running for another term, Morinville-ward Catholic trustee Karen Mercier did not file her nomination papers Monday.
"I just chose not to run for another three years. I felt the people that were up and running could do a better service to our community."
While Mercier's decision might have caught the other trustees off-guard, there are already two individuals lined up to compete for the open seat in the Morinville ward. Incumbent Lauri-Ann Turnbull will run against small business owner Heather Thiessen and Noreen Radford for the two Morinville seats. Cathy Proulx, first elected to the board in 1996, will get a seventh term as the representative for the district's Legal ward after no challengers emerged.
Within St. Albert, six candidates are seeking the available seats that make up the rest of the district. Newcomers Brock Dagenais, a long-time lawyer, and Chris Cooke, an employee of GE, will be up against all four incumbent candidates. Dave Caron, now seeking his seventh term, Jacquie Hansen, looking for a fourth term, Joan Crockett, elected in the 2009 byelection following Neil Fitzpatrick's resignation from the board, and Rosaleen McEvoy, seeking a third term, all filed their nomination papers.
All of the trustees — with the exception of Crockett — were acclaimed in 2007 when no one ran against them. The Catholic board last ran an actual election in 2004.
When long-time trustee Ernie Wynychuk died in April, the board of trustees declared the seat would not be filled until the election. While the opening on the board guaranteed at least one new face at meetings, four new candidates have stepped forward to challenge the incumbents, all of whom are running again.
Joe Demko, Shannon Homeniuk, Mike Johnson and Cheryl Dumont have all filed their nomination papers. Demko, the former superintendent for the district, was the only candidate to publicly announce his intentions to run before nomination day.
Homeniuk, who works for a local physician, Dumont, a recently retired businessperson and Johnson, an interpreter at Fort Edmonton Park with an education degree, are all looking for a spot on the board.
They'll be up against incumbents Joan Trettler, Gerry Martins, Morag Pansegrau and Judy Huisman. Trettler will be seeking a fifth term, Martins a second, Huisman a third and Pansegrau a sixth.
Pansegrau was one of many candidates who were pleased there would be an election this year, unlike in 2007 when all of the trustees were acclaimed.
"It gives us a public forum to discuss the issues," she said.
For more school trustee coverage, visit www.stalbertgazette.com.