Meet the candidates: Surrey school board

We asked each civic election candidate in our readership area – Surrey, White Rock and Delta – to submit a written response to one question, in 100 words or less: Why should people vote for you?

Their responses, unedited except for length, are published in our Civic Election tab. Below, Surrey’s school trustee candidates respond:

David Matta

Thanks for this opportunity to submit a piece about why I’m running for school trustee.

I was educated at both Simon Fraser and Trinity Western and I hold a master’s degree in psychology. I currently teach leadership and psychology at the college level. I grew up in public schools myself.

As a parent and long time resident of Surrey, I have three priorities: To allow parents to be more informed and more involved in the direction of their children’s education. To make sure that there is a zero tolerance policy for bullying. That all children feel safe, respected, and free to learn. And to promote Canadian patriotism; that we are one united people in a strong nation.

(Note — David Matta’s bio was incorrectly printed in the Nov. 13 edition of the Now. The editorial staff regrets the error.)

Sara Sharma

She is an entrepreneur, real estate agent and the owner of a group daycare centre and does accounting.

She has volunteered at PAC and Surrey Minor Hockey League.

Her personal experience is tragic. A dropout student went down the wrong path. On June 29, 2009 her 15 year old son took a ride with him from somewhere without her knowledge, never returned home. The grief was unbearable.

She wants to engage today’s youth and equip them with tools to deal with the pressures and pitfalls of modern life. She chooses to work with children because they are our future., @SaraSharmaYVR

Rina Diaz

You should vote for me because I will devote myself whole heartedly to advocating for more funding that our growing community desperately needs.

I will work with the district and board:

– To make sure that the staff members supervising our children have adequate training both in conflict resolution and first aid so that they may continue to provide our students with a safe school environment.

– To implement a more collaborative stakeholder communication between the board and our voters to ensure that they have more access to policies and regulations for review before they are voted on.

– To develop a meaningful connection to learning with more parent involvement within the classrooms.

Balraj Atwal

I care most about students in our schools of Surrey. 

They enjoy the study in our schools. 

They bring good results. They be grow as a good citizens. 

They service the public peacefully, no drugs, no racisim, no border or boundaries, as they good server make a Surrey paradise on the earth.

Sukhy Dhillon

As a Teacher, for over 20 years I have witnessed and experienced the challenges faced by students, parents and teachers.

Issues of physical space for learning (too many portables) lack of funding has decreased considerably.

Surrey, the largest School district with increasing student population deserves equity within the funding formula.

I have a Masters degree in Education and Leadership. I will listen, engage and support the parents in our kids’ education.

We must engage with all stakeholders and tackle the problem of bullying and the presence of drugs in our schools.

We must have concrete plan to take care of our kids’ physical and mental health.

Nicole Joliet

The current majority on the Surrey School Board has become complacent, refusing to put themselves on the line for our kids.

Whether it’s protecting our LGBT students or addressing the shortfall, the Board has done the least possible so they can look good without taking risks.

As an independent, I will hold my fellow trustees accountable, push for policies that would otherwise die quietly in the back room, and pressure the entire Board to do their jobs and put themselves on the line for our kids.

Julie Tapley

I care about creating equal access to opportunities. It is important to me that Surrey has a strong, thriving and respected public education system.

I believe that all members of our community should be concerned about our city’s future economic prosperity, which is built on a foundation of today’s learners.

With a strong public education system our community will secure a bright and prosperous future.

My plan for Surrey is to be a liaison between parents, teachers, students and tax payers to allow for meaningful dialogue around the topic of education. I want to be an advocate for Surrey’s public schools.

Bob Holmes (Surrey First Education)

If elected, I will be driven by my two biggest passions – parent involvement, and increasing education funding.

Parent involvement is extremely important; I will work to strengthen parent engagement and ensure parents and the community are given every possible opportunity to communicate their concerns to the school board.

Education funding is inadequate, and I will continue my work of the last several years, advocating for more funding for our district.

Find out much more about my values, and my vision for our school district by visiting, where you’ll also find contact info – I’m ready to talk education any time.

Niovi Patsicakis

I bring my lengthy teaching experience and personal knowledge of what the needs are for Surrey students and staff. 

I have written many letters in local papers demanding that our BC government fully fund public education. 

As a trustee,  I will continue to speak out and work with other citizens to protect our high quality public education system. 

I will be an advocate for all students.  In addition to my passion for education, I have the collaborative skills needed to work with community groups, employee groups and board management to ensure excellence in the Surrey Board of Education.

Charlene Dobie (Incumbent)

It has been a privilege to serve as a School Trustee in the Surrey School District, and working with the students, parents and staff is an enriching experience.  

I have been fully engaged in my work as a trustee, approachable, and a strong advocate for public education. 

I bring a unique perspective to the position as I am also an Education Assistant.

My classroom experience is always top of mind when I am making decisions on the Board of Education. 

There is more work to be done and I am ready for the challenge of the next four years.

Harman Singh


Teacher – 3 Issues: 1. Meeting students’ needs 2. Resource allocation & accountability 3. Parental involvement and workshops.

I would like to provide clear grounds for resource allocation and accountability on my part and all involved stakeholders.

This means: Supporting the needs and choices of all students, Extra-curricular programs which keep kids engaged in their passions, Having counselling more approchable for all students, Being creative and promoting creativity in our schools and Staying connected with the fast-paced technology of today.

I believe a larger investment in education leads to fewer resources needed in crime prevention.

Building stronger humanitarian values of love, care and respect leads to a healthier school environment and the greater community.

Kirsty Peterson


Kirsty Peterson is a passionate advocate for people. She speaks for children, youth and families and knows that the only way to achieve representation that reflects the diversity of our community is by engaging, listening and paying attention to the people who live here.

Kirsty believes that it is the school board’s responsibility to educate the public in issues that impact students and education.

She knows that people care what happens in our community and that we need to encourage them to be engaged in our school district. November 15th vote Kirsty Peterson; Engaging Parents, Engaging Students, Engaging Communities.

Sikandar Hayat


When elected, I will seek guidance and wisdom from all stakeholder groups for the betterment of our students in order to make Surrey schools a shining example of what the public education system can be by promoting a safe and inclusive learning environment.

I will work hard for the development / promotion of programs for at-risk students and at-risk behaviours; donate 20% of my School Trustee salary to create curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for students to demonstrate their leadership capacity; and more community and student engagement in making policies to meet the needs of our students and reflect community wishes.

Gary Tymoschuk (Surrey First Education)

Occupation: Vice-President Operations, Credit Counselling Society. I have the skills, knowledge, and experience: I was elected to Surrey School Board 1996 and Surrey City Council 1999, re-elected 2002.

I have served on Surrey Public Library Board (1991 – 1996) and Surrey Crime Prevention Society (2009 to present) – as Chair on both.

I am currently a leader in a national non-profit organization.

I will strive for educational excellence and improved student success; create safe, caring and healthy learning environments; actively advocate for additional Provincial Government funding; always encourage and welcome parental input and support the establishment and maintenance of positive and harmonious working relationships with all employee groups.

Bal Sabharwal

I have grown up in this beautiful City of Surrey for over 40 years. 

My children and I have gone through the schooling system of Surrey and hence I have seen the changes that have occurred over my lifetime. 

As a youngster I played soccer and as a parent I coached soccer, mentored children and have taught at our college. 

The City is growing and the needs of the dynamic society must be addressed. Issues such as class sizes, addressing funding needs, ensuring there are enough schools, well trained teachers and counsellors and ensuring a safe healthy learning environment are all important to maintaining a high standard of education.

Patricia Enair

A Surrey resident for the last 9 years, I have been an active member of the parent community for the last eight years. 

As a former District Parent Advisory Council Co-Chair, and Parent Advisory Council Chair I am proud of the part I have played in increasing parent participation in education. 

I am passionate about education and the part it plays in our children’s future.

I believe in order to build a stronger tomorrow we need a strong education system where the focus is the best interest of the child.

Forrest Smith


I am a Deaf self-employed videographer. I am an active Deaf community member.

I have two kids in French immersion elementary school in Surrey, where I have resided for the past 23 years.

We need more diversity on the board of trustees and that’s why I want to represent every kid with special needs.

There needs to be more transparency with the School Board Trustees.

Calgary Mayor’s website is example of transparency.

I am ready work with you in Surrey.

Laurie Larsen (Incumbent, Surrey First Education)

I have been a Trustee for 2 terms. I am approachable, available, independent and transparent.

I have no problem pursuing issues that are of important to benefit students.

I value the work ethics of Teachers, CUPE support staff, and Administration and believe we have the best in the province.

I will continue to advocate for Surrey’s fair share of funding to allow staff to do the jobs they have been inspired to do.

Every child matters regardless of where they live and I will continue to ensure every child has a safe, caring and healthy environment in which to learn.

Shawn Wilson (Incumbent, Surrey First Education)

The largest school district in BC needs highly enthusiastic, committed and experienced people who have clearly demonstrated those qualities along with a passion for supporting students in public education.

I have been elected five times since 1999 to the Board of Education and the record would show a high degree of sensible and reliable decision making that has a positive on our school community.

I have a healthy and respectful relationship with education stakeholders in Surrey as well as with the Ministry of Education in Victoria and our School District is seen as a innovative leader inside and outside of Surrey’s borders.

Note: Surrey school trustee candidates Terry Allen (Incumbent, Surrey First Education), Garry Thind (Surrey First Education), Rayman Bhuller and Jonathan Silveira (Surrey Kids Matter) did not submit responses to the Now.

To read about Surrey’s mayoral candidates click here.

To read about Surrey’s council candidates click here.

There are 52 voting locations across Surrey on Nov. 15, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit for a list of locations.

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