When one of its members suddenly died this spring, the Fraser-Cascade School District (SD 78) was required to call a byelection—less than a year after the last municipal election—to fill the vacany. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Surprising number of candidates step up for trustee byelection, says deputy chief election officer

Unexpected passing left board vacancy for Area 3 of Fraser-Cascade School District

With last October’s municipal elections still a recent memory, the sudden passing of Fraser-Cascade School District (SD 78) Trustee Tom Hendrickson has initiated a byelection calling specific residents of the district back to cast their vote for a new board member to represent them.

Until his passing, “Area 3 of the Fraser-Cascade District was acclaimed by Tom Hendrickson for (almost 30) years,” said deputy chief election officer, Jim Delnea, while at the school district’s head office.

“He was very well respected in the position as a community member as a trustee. I think (how he won) speaks volumes about the respect the community had for him—to go unopposed so often.”

Split into three regions, SD 78’s Board comprises seven elected community members, each of whom represent a certain Area of the District: three trustees for Area 1, which surrounds Kent and Harrison; three trustees for Area 2, which surrounds Hope; and one trustee for Area 3, which runs between Areas 1 and 2, from Ruby Creek to just north of North Bend.

Map

But now a new member of the board must be elected for Area 3, and this time it won’t be by acclamation.

Seven people have come forward as trustee candidates: Sequel Adamson, Cheryl Davidson, Tom Durrie, Bronwyn Punch, Cathy Speth, Hollie Traas, and Wilfried Vicktor.

And while some of the candidates are more well-known than others, all have agreed to participate in an All-Candidates’ Meeting. Held on Tuesday, July 23, at the Boston Bar Elementary Secondary School, the event runs from 7 to 9 p.m., with a meet and greet starting at 6:30 p.m. Questions can be emailed in advance to DPAC@SD78.bc.ca.

“I was really surprised to see that many people (come forward),” Delnea said, “but it shows an interest. And (the candidates) are varied—there’s a good spectrum to select from, so we’ll see what happens during the election. I’m expecting a fairly good turnout.”

Advance voting happened on July 17, and the geneal vote will be on Saturday, July 27, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Preliminary results will be released after the general vote, and the official announcement will be made on July 31, at 1 p.m.

Although any resident of the school district could step forward as a candidate, only those living within Area 3’s boundaries are entitled to vote in this byelection. Voter registration will take place at the time of voting.

Candidate Biographies:

Sequel Adamson – Raised in Yale, Sequel Adamson is the youngest candidate to step forward in this byelection, having graduated from Hope Secondary School in 2018. Currently enrolled in university, Adamson also works as a lifeguard at the Boston Bar pool, and at the Yale library. And while she may be young, she’s not inexperienced: in addition to participating on the Board as a school representative, Adamson was also part of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council—a program connecting youth with their local Members of Parliament.

Cheryl Davidson – A lifelong resident of the area, this byelection was the perfect time to finally act on something Cheryl Davidson says she’s been considering since last winter. Having gone through local schools first as a student, then as a parent, and now as a member of the Aboriginal Education Council, Davidson says she has a unique perspective to lend to the Board, and is excited to share her ideas with other trustees, if elected.

Tom Durrie – Although he’s not spent a lifetime in the area, Tom Durrie wants to spend the rest of his life here. A Boston Bar resident for the past several years, Durrie hopes to leave his mark on the community by helping the School Board increase its arts-based curriculum. Currently retired, Durrie still understands the current needs of students as he has grandchildren in school, and has been involved in several different types of political action across the province.

Bronwyn Punch – Originally from New Zealand, Bronwyn Punch has been a resident of the Hope area for more than two decades, and has spent much of that time working with both the public and area’s youth. A former education support work and current Fraser Valley Regional Library worker, Punch decided to step forward to contribute a support worker’s point-of-view. And as a member of the Fraser Valley Regional District’s regional variance commission, Punch is not only experienced in working with a board, but is familiar with local issues.

Cathy Speth – A life-long resident of the Fraser Canyon, Cathy Speth has been involved with the local school district in one way or another for most of her life. From going through the local schools herself, to putting her children and relatives through the system, to working along side it as a member of the Aboriginal Education Council, Speth has been involved with the Fraser-Cascade district for several decades.

Hollie Traas – Born and raised in North Bend, Hollie Traas says growing up in a family of politicians has helped prepare her for her first foray into local politics. And although she’s a young, stay-at-home-mother with children in school and at home, Traas says it’s that experience that will be a benefit to the Board: “I see firsthand what goes on in the schools … and want to be a voice for the community.”

Wilfried Vicktor – A resident of the Hope area since 1980, Wilfried Vicktor has spent his fair share of time in the local political realm, having had multiple terms as District of Hope Mayor, a Board Trustee, and Councillor. Currently working at a local hearing firm, Vicktor says that although he has no experience as a parent, having served “six elected terms overall” speaks volumes for the community’s faith in his abilities—and hopes to see that become seven elected terms.


 

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