Peterson, Jess, Engen, Hawthorne, Huff, Lentz acclaimed — lone school board election in Rimbey

The Ponoka News begins extensive civic election coverage today. In the first installment, we provide profiles of those candidates running for public and separate school board trustee positions

  • Sep. 29, 2010 7:00 a.m.

Ward 1: (acclaimed)

Name: Donna Peterson

Occupation: Co-owner of Alix Home Hardware, retired teacher.

Marital status, family: “I have been married to my husband Curt for 41 years and have two married sons and five grandchildren who live in the Wolf Creek School Division.”

Community involvement: “President of the Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, board member of Alix United Church, active member of Alix Chamber of Commerce.”

Why are you running for office: “I have been proud to represent the communities in ward 1for the past six years and am passionate about education and putting the best interests of children first. I attend school council meetings to get input from parents and update them about the school division. I believe that student achievement is possible for every student and want to help them become lifelong learners and reach their potential in life.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “Students are our future and it is important that they receive the best education possible to be the leaders of tomorrow. It is imperative that they have the skills they need to solve problems, be critical thinkers and be good digital citizens in the 21st century. We must make it possible for students to use their own technological devices in our schools because that is the way they learn best today. Declining enrollment in our small rural schools is a problem and it is hard to provide equal education opportunities for all our students, such as CTS courses in the small high schools. We must think of innovative ways to enable all of our students to have access to these programs.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “In Alberta, discussions are ongoing about building a single inclusive education system that meets the needs of all students including those with diverse learning needs. Also, there is a commitment to developing a province-wide wraparound approach in which vulnerable students and their parents have their needs met by coordinated supports and services. As a board member I will continue to lobby the government to make necessary changes and provide funding to improve our education system and address challenges. I would like to see our jurisdiction host annual public engagement events where we receive input from representatives of all stakeholders.”

Ward 2: (acclaimed)

Name: Lorrie Jess

Occupation: Owner of the Ponoka Bookstore for 25 years and I have worked here for 29 years.

Marital status, family: “Widowed with three children. Emma is 21 and in the fourth year of her Bachelor of Arts Degree. Nola is 17 and in Grade 12. Jake is 12 and in Grade 7.”

Community involvement: “My kids and I have been involved with Beef 4-H for the past 13 years. The last four years have been with the East Ponoka 4-H Club. Through the 4-H program we are heavily involved in the community by volunteering at the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Party, the ag society’s county fair, raise money for charity, Ponoka Stampede, rodeo challenge, and numerous other community events.”

Why are you running for office: “I put my name forward for the school board because I am passionate about public education and want to be part of making decisions that are in the best interests of our students.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “The collective agreement with the ATA will end in 2012 and depending on how things go (with or without provincial bargaining) this could be an issue in the world of education.”

Ward 3: (election pending)

Name: Trudy Bratland

Occupation: Wife, mom and grandmother

Marital Status: Married for 38 years to Brent (Bratland).

Community Involvement: “Lately, more involvement in and with school

activities, church and helping out whenever I can.”

Why are you running for office: “I have been involved in education and/or

working with children in one form or another since before having my own family. Now that I am involved on a different level, there are a number of issues and priorities regarding education that can’t be let go, including appropriate funding for the quality education our children deserve and preparing them for a future that we aren’t sure what will look like as well as the proposed changes to the school act.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents: “I consider the time I have spent on the Wolf Creek School Board an education that has been supported by my electors and community. They have invested their tax dollars and faith in me so in turn, I work very hard to keep on top of issues, be prepared for meetings, to ask and answer questions, report to them and lobby for the benefit of the school division.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “The Wolf Creek

community is facing a number of important issues including the proposed changes in the way the government will fund and direct the way education is heading in the future. Each school in the division faces challenges every year and some of their concerns are local while others have an effect on every site in Wolf Creek.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “Although

financial support is not the only answer to many of the problems school divisons face, the uncertainty and reliability of funding is something that creates a lot of stress for everyone who is involved in providing education. Plans are often made only to be changed because grants are increased, decreased, eliminated or deemed to remain at the ‘status quo’.

It takes a lot of time for a school division to create budgets, change a course of action, hire or release staff and chart a new direction only to be advised that funding has been changed — so one of my goals is to continue to lobby the government for reliable funding.”

Ward 3: (election pending)

Name: Scott Ellis

Occupation: Eavestrougher and Property Manager.

Marital status, family: Married.

Community involvement: “I am a counselor for the CCC Boys Club, chairman of the fundraising committee for the Rimbey Christian School, and on the board of directors for the Westaskiwin Conservative Association.”

Why are you running for office: “I am running for school board trustee because education is the future. I’m passionate about education and think voters should have a choice of who represents them. I want to be actively involved in my community and affect the future.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents: “Constituents should vote for me if they want a persuasive advocate for education and feel it is important that the school board represent a diverse cross section of the community. I’m young and enthusiastic. I remember what it was like to be a student. I’ve worked the rigs and in oilfield chemical sales. I understand the needs of today’s employers and how tempting the money in the oil patch is for young people. I graduated from NAIT with a diploma in Chemical Engineering so I have firsthand knowledge of the value of a post secondary education. Two years as chairman for the Fundraising Committee has taught me how to advocate the importance of education. Because of all of this, I bring a different perspective than many of the other candidates.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “The most important issue facing the community is a lack of priority placed on education. I think this is displayed by the fact that all of the wards within the Wolf Creek School Division, with the exception of Ward 3, have had their school board trustee elected by acclamation. Other levels of government will make education a priority if they believe that their constituents do too. I think democracies can only work when there is a choice. I hope that the voters in ward 3 will make their right to democracy count.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “I would improve the quality of the school district by raising awareness of the issues facing the education system and advocating the importance of education for the future success of the community. A current issue that needs more awareness is how funding is distributed to school districts, and I am prepared to actively disseminate this information.”

Ward 3: (election pending)

Name: Pam Kapalka

Occupation: “I am the bookkeeper for my husband’s small business.”

Marital status, family: “I am married to Todd Kapalka. We have two daughters, Jordan is eight years old and Jessica is six years old.”

Community involvement: “I have been and continue to be an active volunteer at the Rimbey Elementary School and other community events. My husband is a Kinsmen member so I also help with some Kinsmen events.”

Why are you running for office: “I was thinking about what I wanted to do now that our youngest daughter is in school full time. I want to do something gratifying that involves my interests and lets me feel like I’m accomplishing something with a purpose. When I read about the upcoming elections, I thought that becoming a school trustee would be perfect for me and my family. I have experience in most aspects of business including management, budgeting, receivables, payables, invoicing, sales and problem solving. I also worked at the Rimbey hospital as a nursing assistant for seven years. I have acquired, through my employment and personal experiences, skills that I feel would be helpful to the Wolf Creek Public School Board. These include organizational skills, problem solving, ability to look at issues from both sides before making judgements, business skills and hard work ethics.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents: “I feel that I have a great personal interest in the goals and policies of the school board because I have two children attending Rimbey Elementary School. I promise that I would always put our children’s best interests first when making decisions.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “I truly care about the children in our school district. They are friends of my children, children of my friends and family as well as members of my community. They need to be guided and given the skills to become responsible, caring, productive citizens. It’s not just textbook skills that they need. They also need to be taught social skills, problem solving, etc. I would do what I could to ensure the school board helps to guide our children.”

Ward 4: (acclaimed)

Name: Karin Engen

Occupation: Eckville Neighborhood Place Coordinator, member of Eckville Credit Union Board of Directors and trustee for Wolf Creek School Division — representing the Eckville and Bentley areas.

Marital status, family: Married 31 years. Three children (all finished college) two pf which are married; three grandchildren.

Community involvement: “Member of Eckville Community Development Association, the Eckville Community Youth Society, the Eckville Childcare Society — work at casinos for several community groups as needed.”

Why are you running for office: No response.

What are the most important issues facing the community: No response.

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “I believe that it is very important that we work together in partnerships to make our schools and communities the best that they can be. We can achieve more working collaboratively.”

Ward 5: (acclaimed)

Name: Jancee Hawthorne

Marital status, family: “My family is my top priority, and thus my full-time day job is that of being a wife and mother of four fabulous children ages 15, 13, 11, and 8.”

Occupation: “I have a certificate in office administration and as a nail technician. I have been subbing as an educational assistant at the Terrace Ridge School in Lacombe until last week, when I submitted my nomination form for school board trustee.”

Community involvement: “We are big supporters of the athletic and other extracurricular opportunities and have been for several years. I have had and currently have kids in Lacombe football, (Chargers, Explosion, Raiders, and Rams) Lacoka lacrosse, where I have been team manager for two years, Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, RoseValley Dance, soccer, STARS basketball, as well as supporting the many school teams and choirs that my kids have participated in. I have been actively involved with the student council of Terrace Ridge School since in opened, and last year served as vice-chair. I am also actively involved with our church, enjoying many opportunities to serve children, teens, and adults alike.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents: “Being that I have children in high school, junior high, middle school, and in elementary grades, I feel I have a unique perspective and can bring a fresh set of eyes to the school board table. I want the best possible education for my children, with the best possible opportunities available to them. I am ambitious, energetic, and optimistic about public education and believe that all children have the right to that same high quality educational experience. I believe in a balanced education which combines sound education that provides our students with a firm foundation for the next grade and stepping stones for their lives. I believe in a safe and caring environment for students, parents, and teachers. I believe in the ‘whole’ education, which involves healthy nutritional choices and information, character building, social skills, athletic opportunities, access to fine arts, and keeping current with social values including technology, bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, communication and optimism at all levels. And I’m sure my eyes will be opened to much more as I climb the steep learning curve to being a successful trustee.”

Why are you running for office: “I am eager to get to work, to make a difference in the lives of my children, by being an example of going for it, being passionate about something and going to work for it, to be a positive influence and working for a common goal and interest for the good of many.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “I look forward to open communication, and to give my due diligence to the pressing issues and priorities of the parents, and students in representing them at a board level. I am excited to get out to the school council meeting of each of the schools represented in ward 5, and develop a working and friendly relationship there. This is a great opportunity for me and I will continually strive to put my best foot forward.”

Ward 5: (acclaimed)

Name: Bob Huff

Occupation: High school teacher, instructor at Red Deer College.

Marital status, family: Wife and two young men.

Community involvement: “Recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal for community service; member of Lacombe Municipal Planning Commission; named Town of Lacombe Ambassador; member of the Lacombe Lions Club; member of the Lacombe Rotary Club/ Chair Lacombe Rotary Youth Programs; member of Blackfalds Optimist Club.”

Why are you running for office: “My beliefs include: a school trustee is the student advocate for the best education; an education provides the requirements for one to achieve their goals; education enables a society to achieve social justice; locally elected trustees are accountable to their community.”

Why should voters elect you ahead of your opponents: “An advocate for public schooling, students and a better society.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “Class sizes, school funding and transportation.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “Enable students in Wolf Creek public schools to excel in school; promote public education for the benefit of all community members; continue the strong rapport between Wolf Creek staff and community members; encourage equal education opportunities for all students; promote a proactive school division dealing with student, staff and community needs; encourage leadership development for both students and staff; continue to advocate for fewer students in classrooms — especially in the elementary grades.”

Name: Maria Lentz

Occupation: Retired teacher; chairperson of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 38.

Marital status, family: Married to Larry; have three children and six grandchildren.

Community involvement: “MC for a wide variety of events; member of St. Augustine’s Parish Council; member of Royal Canadian Legion; fashion show coordinator for the WPCA Ladies Day.”

Why are you running for office: “Being acclaimed does not affect my goal of promoting Catholic education while working with staff, students, parents, etc. to provide the best education possible for the children in our care.”

What are the most important issues facing the community: “Sustainable, predictable funding from Alberta Education is necessary to maintain the excellent programs schools have in place. These programs may be eliminated due to a shortage of funding. This applies also to school construction and maintenance.”

How would you improve the quality of life in the school district: “Public engagement is essential. ‘Public’ means not only the members of the school community or only those who have children in the school system, but involvement from the whole community — seniors, business people, those who no longer have children in the school system, community organizations, etc. School boards need to let the public know what they do and engage the public to join with them in the educational process.”