Pair of trustees in by acclamation

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The election was over even before it began for Jackie Comeau and Caren Mueller.

Both women were acclaimed following Nomination Day, Sept. 19. Comeau will serve as the Westlock North trustee for Pembina Hills Public Schools, while Mueller is the Ward 3 rep for the Evergreen Catholic Separate Regional Division.

Comeau was one of the incumbents on the Pembina Hills, having first been elected in 2013. Prior to being a trustee, Comeau worked as a program assistant at R.F. Staples School for 17 years.

She had also worked at Linaria School and Barrhead Elementary School back when it was one of the largest schools in the province, as well as serve on the school councils for Dapp and Jarvie.

Noting that trustees used to serve three years instead of four, Comeau said the past four years have flown by.

“I just feel like you’re just starting to learn everything by the time three years is up. But at least now you have another year to grow,” she said.

Comeau said she was happy to be acclaimed, adding, “I’m hoping that it would be because that people are satisfied with our division and the way things are running now.”

She acknowledged there will always be people unhappy with the school board

“I’m doing the best that I can with what I’ve learned over the last four years.”

When asked if there was anything she was particularly proud of, she said she was glad how things turned out at Pembina North Community School in Dapp.

“It’s really a great school. With the new junior high on there, you see the great sports teams they have and you hear about the leadership they have in that school, with the older kids helping the younger kids, and the great option program they have available there now,” she said.

Enrolment at Pembina North is now over 200 students, despite many naysayers complaining the school would be closed in five years.

“People want their kids to go there. It has a community feeling. There’s lots of opportunities for the kids for leadership and growth,” Comeau said.

It should be noted that most of the trustee seats for Pembina Hills have been filled by acclamation.

Incumbents Jennifer Tuininga and Judy Lefebvre have will retains their seats in Electoral Subdivision 1 and Electoral Subdivision 3 respectively.

Kerry McElroy has also been acclaimed as Electoral Subdivision 2 and Nancy Keough is in as the Swan Hills trustee.

Meanwhile, in Electoral Subdivision 1, Westlock South, Jackie Carson and Ken Mead are facing off, while Wendy Scinski and Doug Pearson are vying for Electoral Subdivision 3, which covers the Town of Westlock.

Mueller back after break

Mueller is also a veteran trustee, having served with Evergreen for 18 years.

Her time on the board came to an end in the 2013 election when she lost to Bob Oko, who has retired.

“I’m very happy to be able to again represent the Westlock ward,” said Mueller.

Mueller said she was rather surprised to get in by acclamation, as she thought there would be other candidates that would come forward.

When asked why she wanted to get back into school board politics, Mueller said she never really got away from education, as she continued to be involved provincially, kept up to date on issues and stayed in touch with trustees.

“It’s been my passion for many, many years, and it continues to be that.”

Catholic boards face many of the same issues as public boards, though they also have an added responsibility of defending Catholic education, which some believe “robs” the public education system of funding by virtue of their existence.

Mueller said she heard that complaint often as a trustee, but points out that all of the students in the province are not going to benefit by piling them all together.

“It’s not unlike when we regionalized years ago. The whole push behind that was that we were going to be saving all this money because there were going to be so many less trustees in the province,” she said.

“In fact, it really didn’t change all that much, because the divisions just got bigger. You had further to travel, so there were more expenses for trustees.”

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