All incumbents return to Catholic school board
All of the incumbents running for re-election on the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division board will be back for another four years, after a record number of ballots were cast for the board race on Monday.
Incumbent board chair Adriana LaGrange topped the list of candidates again, with the 3,274 votes she received 1,000 more than she earned in 2010. Incumbent trustee Anne Marie Watson finished a close second with 3,168 votes received.
In third was David Bouchard with 2,845 votes, while Guy Pelletier was fourth with 2,804 and newcomer Murray Hollman picked up the last spot with 2,056 votes.
LaGrange, 52, said she was humbled by the support she received after a “very positive” campaign that featured candidates who were well informed on the issues. The return of incumbents, she said, will allow the board to maintain an element of stability.
“There’s quite a learning curve when you become a trustee for the first time, so I think the fact that the majority are incumbents I think will allow for us to hit the pavement running and we can catch Murray up to speed pretty quick,” said LaGrange.
Watson, 45, was re-elected, moving up from fourth place in 2010 to second in 2013. She said she noticed a lot of interaction with the public during the campaign, and through that heard that the board can be more involved going forward.
“The one issue that really hit home with me was engagement. Talking with some of our teachers, they would like to see trustees in the school more often and parents would like to see trustees at school council more often,” said Watson.
Bouchard, 60, got onto the board in 2010 by a mere 42 votes, but had no such trouble this time, finishing a comfortable third.
Bouchard spent election night in Israel, where he has been on a mission trip for the last week.
Fourth was Guy Pelletier, who was running as a one-term incumbent. The 47-year-old said that continuity will benefit the board as it works to get a new high school for Red Deer. He said the campaign laid bare the fact that the board needs to do a better job of engaging the people it represents.
The new blood on the board is Hollman, who was the youngest candidate at 27. As he watched his lead over the sixth-placed candidate steadily grow throughout the night, he said he was nervous, “with an undertone of excitement” as it became clear he would gain a seat.
He said he learned a lot during the campaign and is ready to step in to work with the six re-elected trustees on issues of space and inclusion going forward. He takes the place of Elaine Halter, who did not seek re-election.
First-time candidates Cory Litzenberger and Brandie Towers finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Litzenberger earned 1,809 votes while Towers got 1,585.
Joining the five trustees on the board will be incumbents Diane MacKay and Liam McNiff, who were both acclaimed in their rural wards. MacKay represents the communities of Innisfail, Bowden, Olds and Didsbury, while McNiff’s ward includes Rocky Mountain House, Caroline, Eckville and Sylvan Lake.
It will be MacKay’s third term and McNiff’s fourth.