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Four candidates running for Westlock's Pembina Hills trustee seat

Seat open as incumbent Wendy Scinski chose not to run again
WES - Pembina Hills trustees
Three men and one woman are running for the Pembina Hills School Division seat in Westlock. The candidates are, L-R, David Keyes, David Truckey, Nichole Stadnyk and Robin Brett.

WESTLOCK – It’s a four-way race for Pembina Hills School Division’s Town of Westlock Ward between two former town councillors, a taekwondo blackbelt and a lawyer.

Each with a different agenda and set of skills, Nichole Stadnyk, David Keyes, David Truckey, and Robin Brett have all put their names forward in hopes of becoming trustee in the Oct. 18 election and fill the seat left vacant by retiring incumbent Wendy Scinski.

For Stadnyk, being a voice for not only parents, but students as well is her top priority.

“The parents have a voice, but also the kids need to be recognized as unique humans that have a voice as well. It’s very important to me to make sure that’s always happening,” said Stadnyk, who attended R.F. Staples but moved to Edmonton to pursue her martial-arts career before graduation.

Having returned to university at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to complete a double major in psychology and sociology, Stadnyk knows her education will be beneficial to the division.

Additionally, her experience running Camp Mackinicholea and children's education is something she says will be a huge benefit to the school.

“We need to have a wholistic approach to not only the education side but also the mental health side, especially coming out of the past couple years,” she said.

“A unique thing I bring to the table is being so involved with kids that I know how to speak with children, I know how to listen to them.”

Meanwhile Brett has set his sights on fighting government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions implemented in schools.

“My daughter has been struggling over the past year with the orders and mandates. She has struggled alongside her classmates. I know there is only so much that can be done on a school board level, but I want to be active and help fend off overreach and help kids have a good experience at school,” said Brett, who feels that the government has overstepped. “I’m willing to take on controversial measures and stand firm for what’s right.”

Applauding Pembina Hills for not implementing mask mandates when given the option, Brett says he is ready to deter what measures he can at a school board level but knows “there are things the Alberta government dictates that we can’t stop.”

“I want to make sure that the spirit of taking on controversial and touchy subjects was there, and I wanted to be one of those,” he said.

With three terms as town councillor under his belt he feels he is properly equipped to handle the trustee position.

“It wouldn't be my first rodeo,” said Brett. “I feel confident.”

Lawyer and active member of Canadian Parents for French, Keyes has one thing on his mind – French Immersion programming.

After seeing the program disappear in Barrhead and reduced in Westlock, he hopes to revitalize bilingualism.

“It’s been heavily cut over the past couple of decades,” said Keyes. “I see French as a huge advantage at getting into some of these professional programs.”

“I would like a seat at the table to see what money we have and where we can use it.”

Having majored in French and minored in English before attending law school, he says that learning an additional language gives students an edge when trying to get into post-secondary education and subsequently the workforce.

“There’s lots of people with top grades and top extracurriculars that didn’t get into medical school when they maybe could have gotten in had they been able to function at a high level in French.”

Fresh off a 17-year stint on town council, Truckey has taken aim at bolstering mental health support for students. In his experience as a small business owner, he says he has seen a growing concern around mental health and anxiety in students and young adults which he hopes to address from a trustee position.

“This needs to become a focus point in the future for our students to meet the world head on,” said Truckey.

Also on his radar is fostering positive relationships with the municipality and town to encourage economic growth from a trustee position to help draw new families to the town and students to the school.

“Economic growth in our communities leads to population growth and this means more student population in our schools. Declining enrolment is an issue that rural schools have to be aware of in order to relevant,” he said.

Truckey put his name forward after hearing that there were no other declared candidates for the trustee position. He says he was approached by former trustees and asked to consider running.

“Westlock is an important piece to the Pembina Hills division, and I felt I still had something to offer to a board table,” he said.

Spencer Kemp-Boulet,

Spencer Kemp-Boulet

About the Author: Spencer Kemp-Boulet

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