WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Incumbent trustee John Acheson signs his nomination papers Sept. 23 at City Hall.
The race to elect a new board of trustees for the Edmonton Catholic School Division is on with 18 candidates vying for seven seats in the Oct. 21 municipal election.
Most incumbents are seeking re-election, except for board chair Becky Kallal, who is stepping down after six years representing Ward 71 in northwest Edmonton. The rest of the incumbents are all being challenged in their respective wards.
The most contested ward is Ward 77 with three candidates trying to unseat incumbent Laura Thibert. Incumbent Cindy Olsen is also being given a run for her money with two candidates trying to oust her from Ward 73.
Kallal's seat is being contested by Patricia Grell, Terry Harris and Zach Koziak.
Debbie Engel, who has served on the board for 15 years, is seeking a sixth term in Ward 74. Brad Lohner is again challenging Engel on Ward 74, which covers the west end.
John Acheson is running for a second term in Ward 75. Andrea Klotz is challenging him.
Michelle Davis, who was also signing her nomination papers at City Hall, is running for the first time in Ward 73 along with Jennifer Chahal and incumbent Olsen.
"I want to make a difference," she said when asked why she was running. "I just want to make sure that (students) get the best experience they can have in school.
"I want them to get all the money that the government is giving to them. I want them to enjoy school as much as my daughter does. That'd be nice."
Davis said she is trying to unseat Olsen because "Cindy Olsen has been there too long; way too long." She said the main thing Olsen has done wrong is that she voted to close four schools in east-central Edmonton, including St. Gabriel School, which Davis' 10-year-old daughter, Kayleigh, attends.
The board is looking at closing four small schools in Ward 75 and replace them with a new, state-of-the-art school. All four schools have been struggling with enrolments in the last few years.
Olsen denied voting to close the four schools, saying the board has never held a vote on the issue.
She said she voted for the capital plan to build a new school "but I did not vote for closure. We have not gone into a closure process."
Olsen she is looking for a third term "because there are a number of challenges and opportunities ahead" that she would like to tackle.
"There is the whole issue of funding; we are inadequately funded and that's causing concerns all along," she said. "Our schools aren't being kept in the shape they should be because we don't have the funding from the government to do that."
Laura Thibert is seeking a second term in Ward 77. Stephen Dufresne, Kara Pelech and Roger Riashy are challenging her.
"Why I'm running? Because I have four kids and I believe in Catholic education," Thibert said. "I want to lead Catholic education into the future."
Thibert's main goal is funding. "I want to make sure our Catholic schools are properly funded and protected.
"We've got to protect our future and want to make sure our students are graduating; that they come out as spiritual leaders and that they are critical thinkers."
In Ward 76, incumbent trustee Marilyn Bergstra is being challenged by Tom Solyom. Finally, in Ward 72, Dan Posa is running against incumbent Larry Kowalczyk.