Students First team takes 5 of 7 Cowichan school board seats

While some municipal election races featured teams of candidates, this 2014 trend was really marked in the campaign to elect a new board of education to look after the Cowichan Valley School District for the next four years.

Nowhere was the gambit more successful, with the big Students First team picking up five seats on the seven-member board.

Three members of Students First topped the polls with former Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins ahead by a long shot with 6,699 votes, followed by fellow newcomer Joe Thorne (5,348) and former trustee and board chair Candace Spilsbury (5,334).

An independent newcomer, Randy Doman, led the rest with 4,975 votes, followed by Students First’s Cathy Schmidt (4,938) and Barb de Groot (4,791).

The seventh trustee is independent Elizabeth Croft (4,090).

None of the members of a group calling themselves Your Four were chosen.

Among those who missed the cut, Keith Chicquen garnered 3,796 votes, followed by Deb Foster (3,648), Kayla Barrett (3,536), Connie Buckner (3,314), Roger Chin (3,088), Joanne de Lure (2,899), Dana Arthurs (2,821), Amy Matamba (2,532) and Ellen Oxman (2,428).

The campaign’s darkest moment was the death of well-liked independent candidate Amrik Prihar shortly before voting day. Although his numbers were not published on the Civicinfo website, it appears he received nearly 1,700 votes in advance polling

and on election day from people who had not heard of his passing, or voted for him in tribute to his contributions to education over the years.

The previous board was fired July 1, 2012 for submitting a deficit budget and the number of trustees was reduced to seven from the previous nine members by the education minister last year.

Spilsbury said Thursday that she thought experienced trustees now have a good chance to look at everything that’s transpired since 2012 and introduce it all to the folks who are new to the board.

"It is great to bring in people with no history with the board," she said.

"It’s always wonderful to have that combination of experience and new because then you can really meld the perspectives and create something new, different, and, usually, better."