Maple Ridge school board ballot filling up

Former parks manager Mike Murray will be running, as will former trustee Kathy Marshall and former district communications officer Gary Cleave

The ballot for November’s school trustee election is starting to fill up as a host of newcomers and some familiar faces opt to throw their hats into the ring.

Former parks manager Mike Murray will be running for school trustee in Maple Ridge, he announced Tuesday. Murray worked with the District of Maple Ridge for 33 years before retiring last year, and is currently the chair of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation. Murray worked extensively with the school district in his role as parks manager, and said he hopes that experience will allow him to continue

“[The partnerships with Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge] represent the kind of collaboration I believe strongly in,” he said. “I’m going to continue to look for those opportunities.”

Like anyone with a family, Murray says he has a vested interest in public education.

“I think we all owe it to future generations to make the right decisions,” he said.

Former school trustee Kathy Marshall, who served two terms on the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education from 2002 to 2008, announced her candidacy on Monday.

“I think I can bring some value to the board,” Marshall said. “I hope to bring commitment, integrity, and my experience.”

Marshall, who will be running in Maple Ridge, was a former school teacher in Ontario, and ran the Ridge Meadows legal aid office prior to its closing in 2002. Marshall said she stepped down from the board in 2008 to spend more time with her family and focus on her volunteer work, which included serving as a director for the 2009 B.C. Disability Games.

This time around, she has more time to devote to her role as trustee.

“The timing is right for me in my life right now,” she said. “Last time I had my fingers in too many pies. This time I’m able to donate the time and energy.”

Also running in Maple Ridge is former school district employee Gary Cleave. Cleave worked for School District No. 42 from 1996 to 2009 as communications officer, and then as the district’s special projects officer, helping develop the district’s student anti-violence program.

Cleave was born and raised in Maple Ridge, and his grandchildren currently attend school in the district.

“The school board will be faced with some difficult choices in the next few years,” said Cleave. “Our weak economy will limit the ability of the provincial government to adequately fund both health care and education. If elected, I will do my best to insure school district resources are allocated wisely and in the best interests of all our students.”

Former trustee Mandeep Bhuller, however, has decided not to run for trustee, despite declaring his intention to do in May following his failed bid at federal politics as the Liberal Party candidate for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission.

Bhuller said he will be throwing his support behind both Marshall and Cleave, and did not want to split the votes of candidates with the same agenda as himself.

“These are people I have worked with and learned from. They have the same point of view as I do, so it makes sense for me to support their work,” he said.

“I’m hoping we can get a progressive board with children as their agenda.”

Bhuller ran unsuccessfully for school trustee in 2008, finishing eighth in Maple Ridge with 2,865 votes.

So far, only three incumbents on the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education  have announced their intention to run for reelection: Trustees Eleanor Palis and Susan Carr, as well as board chair Ken Clarkson. Trustees Dave Rempel and Mike Huber have yet to declare their candidacy, while trustees Kathie Ward and Stepan Vdovine have decided not to run.