Winning a majority of seats on school board and all the seats on city council means a new era of collaboration between the city and school district, promises mayor-elect George Harvie.
On Saturday, Harvie’s Achieving for Delta slate of candidates won six of seven school board seats, part of landslide victory that saw Harvie re-elected to a second term as his slate swept all six seats on council.
“I’m so grateful to the voters of Delta for showing trust in me for another four years. I’m very humbled and having all of my candidates elected is amazing. It allows us to go forward in a very positive way,” a jubilant Harvie told the Reporter Saturday night.
“I also want to ensure that we are uniting this city instead of this north/south divide which other councils have promoted over the years. We want to be one united city.”
Incumbent trustees Erica Beard and Val Windsor led the way with 13,677 and 13,500 votes respectively, followed by newcomers Ammen Dhillon (11,769), Masako Gooch (10,748), Nimmi Duala (10,699) and Joe Muego (9,983).
Incumbent Nick Kanakos, running under the Independents Working for You banner, was the lone candidate not on Harvie’s slate to be elected, garnering 8,927 votes.
Maury Kask, the only Achieving for Delta candidate not to be elected Saturday night, finished just behind Kanakos with 8,774 votes, followed by incumbent Bruce Reid (also running with Independents Working for You) with 7,955 votes.
Five others also ran for school board: independents Andrea DeWolff (6,746) and Whitney Saip Dyck (6,283), as well as ParentsVoice BC candidates Carmen Halpenny (4,772), Alisa Horth (4,530), Nuno Antunes (3,975) and Daniel Tonn (3,597).
(Editor’s note: All results are preliminary pending the official tally, which will be announced at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.)
Voter turnout was much lower this election than it was in 2018. Only 22,655 of the 75,739 residents registered to vote cast a ballot this time around — just shy of 30 per cent. Last election, 31,434 out of 73,110 registered voters cast a ballot, about 43 per cent.
With Achieving for Delta’s landslide victory Saturday, Windsor told the Reporter she foresees a lot of collaboration and co-operation between the district and the city on “projects that are of mutual benefit,” including resurfacing the tracks at Seaquam and Delta secondary schools, one of the slate’s platform promises.
“I think we will see not only those two tracks, but probably other things that get developed as a result of it. The tracks obviously [are] for the benefit of all Delta residents. The one [at] North Delta [Secondary] is absolutely amazing, you should see how much it’s being used.”
Harvie echoed Windsor’s comments, touting the benefit of such partnerships both for Delta residents and kids in schools.
“[What] we want to do is ensure that as much of the money that comes from the province to the school board stays in the classrooms,” Harvie told the Reporter Saturday night. “Instead of building new fields outside of the school [district] properties, we’re going to be rejuvenating their fields because, after school’s out, it’s our community people that are using them.”
This election marked the first time Windsor, who was first elected to school board in 2011 and most recently served as chairperson, has run as part of a slate. She said the quality of the team Harvie put together is what convinced her accept his offer to run as part of Achieving for Delta.
“I was approached to run for the team and I said, ‘I want to know who you have running.’ So they told me who they had and I investigated them, and I thought those are people I would love to work with because of the diversity of the backgrounds that they bring to the job. And I think that having that diversity is going to be a real benefit to the board because of those differences,” she said.
“The other thing is, they’re not ‘yes’ people. They’re people who have independent minds with a common dream, which is to make the school district or the city better, and we’ll work together to make that happen.”
Among those set to join Windsor on school board is Joe Muego, who as a former district PAC chair is eager to bring what he’s learned to bear as a school trustee.
“Being a rookie trustee there’s still a lot behind the curtain [I don’t know], but I have a different perspective having been involved with parents as the parent voice for literally years. So I really hope to bring something different and help contribute to the conversation at the table. We have a diverse group of people there and we all have so much to offer, and that’s what I bring.”
An architect by trade, Muego said his experience in that field can help bridge the gap that sometimes exist between priorities of the city and those of the school district.
“One of the things that I have said from the beginning is that we can’t have healthy schools without healthy communities, and healthy communities without healthy schools,” he told the Reporter.
“As an architect I am a community builder and know I’ll be able to at least have that conversation, bringing a different perspective to the board table to make sure that the concerns of development, increasing enrollment and things that actually affect us are at least considered properly, with a voice at the board table that understands those issues.
“If we can continue to increase enrollment, then we’ll have better funding in the schools, we’ll have more success in the schools. But if we have a stagnant Delta, that’s not a good thing.”
His top priority, however, is to make sure that students’ needs and well-being always come first.
“That’s everything,” he said.
“We have a long track record of minimizing administrative costs, we want to stay on that, but make sure that we also have the top talent on the administrative side to make sure their schools are successful. But mostly it’s to make sure the kids are put first and foremost every time.”
The inaugural school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at the Delta School District office in Ladner (4585 Harvest Dr.).
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