Voters chose continuity in public education on Wednesday when they re-elected all five city trustees currently sitting on the board of Saskatchewan Rivers School Division No. 119.
“I feel elated,” returning trustee Rod Thomson said. “I’ve been around this community for so many years and I know the agony of defeat … Everybody had their heart in the right place and their motives were not selfish, so I extend my congratulations to those who won and my condolences to those who are suffering the agony of defeat.”
The lone challenger to the incumbents, educator Doris Lund, was unable to achieve her goal of becoming the city’s newest public school trustee.
“I’d like to congratulate all of those who were successful in being re-elected to the school board,” Lund said. “And I’d like to thank all of the people who supported me.”
After the announced results, all five re-elected trustees were still riding high from their victory.
“To me, it’s very humbling,” trustee Arne Lindberg said. “Very, very humbling. I didn’t expect this at all.”
“I feel pretty good about it,” fellow board member Grant Gustafson said. “With four years ahead of us in this term, it’s a little longer look, and we’ve got quite a good foundation, so I’m looking forward to just getting right back at it.”
For the five incumbents — Thomson, Lindberg, Gustafson, Barry Hollick and George McHenry — their unanimous re-election serves as a strong endorsement of the board’s work thus far.
“I think the board has done good work, and I think we’re recognized for doing good work in the community,” current board-chair Barry Hollick said. “We are a fiscally responsible board. We were one of the few boards in the province that had cash reserves when the government moved and came up with the funding formula … We were always very prudent in our financial decisions and this Carlton gym project, we are putting in almost dollar for dollar what the province is giving us, and there’s very few boards that are in that position that we were in.
I think the board has done good work, and I think we’re recognized for doing good work in the community. Barry Hollick
“So I think people realize that the board was operating well, our schools are functioning well (and) we have innovative programs. We have, I think, one of the highest First Nations graduation rates in the province. So I think we got broad support across the city for those reasons.”
Many of the incumbents mentioned the positive dynamic of the current board. The election results, they believed, indicated that voters saw them as an experienced team with a record of success.
“I guess that maybe people think that the board has been doing a good job and they’re pleased and happy,” McHenry said. “I think that that has been kind of reflected by the incumbents being re-elected again to serve, so I think our ratepayers and parents are happy with what’s happening in our school division … and I think there’s a lot of experience with the trustees that were running, so that may have played a part too.”
The incumbents celebrated their wins in different ways. Lindberg was busy at home taking care of his wife, who suffered an injury last week. Hollick was planning to meet with some of the trustees later in the evening for a quiet celebration. Gustafson, exhausted by Election Day, was planning on a long sleep.
“I’ll take my dog for a little walk,” Thomson said. “That’s the way I celebrate.”