SURREY – Crime, funding, communication, budgeting and choice programs. Those were the issues presented at Wednesday (Oct. 22) evening’s all-candidates trustee meeting for the Surrey Board of Education.
With 23 candidates stepping into the race, there was a variety of voices at the meeting, each with their own ideas for the next four years.
Of the candidates, 12 are running as part of a slate while 11 are running as independents for the province’s largest school district.
Terry Allen, who was absent from the meeting, Laurie Larsen and Shawn Wilson, who are part of the current board, are running alongside Bob Holmes, Garry Thind and Gary Tymoschuk (absent) as part of the Surrey First Education slate.
Another incumbent, Charlene Dobie, is running alongside Rayman Bhuller, Patricia Enair, Niovi Patsicakis, Kirsty Peterson and Sara Sharma as part of the Surrey Progressives slate.
Only six of the 23 candidates are to be elected to the board come the Nov. 15 election.
Issues of paramount importance, from the candidates’ opening and closing statements, were funding, equal opportunities for students, social justice and parental engagement.
Nicole Joliet, Surrey’s first transgender school trustee candidate, criticized the existing board for not making transgender and GLBT issues a priority in the past. Incumbent Dobie also criticized the existing board, citing that her fellow board members voted in favour of raising the trustee honorarium while she voted against it.
Both Forrest Smith and incumbent Larsen made representing students with disabilities and funding for special-needs a top priority in their opening statements, while others argued that the prevalence of portables at schools was an issue.
Other independent candidates are Balraj Atwal, Sukhy Dhillon, Rina Diaz, Sikandar Hayat, David Matta, Baljit Sabharwal, Jonathan Silveira, Harman Singh and Julie Tapley.
The candidates stayed past the question period, which ended at around 8:30 p.m. to meet parents and answer questions.
The 2014 civic election is Nov. 15.