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Eight running for Protestant board

When long-time trustee Ernie Wynychuk passed away in April, it was clear there would be at least one new face on the board of St. Albert Protestant Schools. The board opted to leave Wynychuk's chair empty until the Oct.

When long-time trustee Ernie Wynychuk passed away in April, it was clear there would be at least one new face on the board of St. Albert Protestant Schools.

The board opted to leave Wynychuk's chair empty until the Oct. 18 election and now, as of nomination day, there are eight individuals — four incumbents and four new candidates, running for board seats.

All of the trustees were acclaimed in 2007. The last election for St. Albert Protestant Schools took place in 2004.

Cheryl Dumont

Dumont, who recently retired from the insurance business and has served as the vice-president of the Sir George Simpson parent council, wants to see education that better prepares students for post-secondary school. She says in her business days, she frequently interviewed recent graduates whose skills in basic literacy were lacking.

"As good a job as they're doing, I thought there could be some change in direction. I think our kids need an education that better prepares them for college, technical school or university."

Joe Demko

The former associate superintendent and superintendent of St. Albert Protestant Schools hasn't been able to stay out of education since retiring in 2005. He has been a manager and acting director in Alberta Education: Zone 2/3 Field Services and now wants a seat as a trustee. He worked in education for 40 years and taught in St. Albert for 34.

According to his online profile, Demko is particularly interested in the difficult challenges facing the school district, including impending contract negotiations and the revision of the Alberta School Act.

"We must ensure our students' needs take precedent over other government agendas as we face these challenges in the years ahead."

Shannon Homeniuk

A mother of two children, Homeniuk has lived in St. Albert for 14 years and has served on the parent council at Muriel Martin School for eight of them. An employee in the medical field, Homeniuk decided to run because after her many years on parent council, it seemed like the next logical step.

Besides being an advocate for students and parents, Homeniuk also wants to be involved in "advocating for different changes that might come about, like funding from the Alberta government."

Judy Huisman (Incumbent)

A 14-year resident and two-time trustee, Huisman has volunteered with the Sir George Simpson and Bellerose parent councils. She has been chair of the Council of School Councils and travelled the province teaching different councils on rights and responsibilities.

The government's decision to open up the School Act is partly what is driving Huisman to seek a third term on the board, among other issues.

"It's past time for the modernization of W.D. Cuts for their particular program development. It's one of the few schools in the province not to have a [Career and Technology Studies] program and I want to change that quickly.

Mike Johnson

With a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Alberta, 29-year-old Johnson currently works at Fort Edmonton Park as an interpretation supervisor. He sees the race for trustee as a way he can put his degree to good use, with jobs in the field hard to come by.

"This is my way of getting involved and being able help facilitate some new change in the school board operates."

Gerry Martins (Incumbent)

The 72-year-old accountant by trade is seeking his third term on the Protestant board. During his time as a trustee, Martins has also served as the representative for the Alberta School Board Association Zone 2/3, St. Albert economic development advisory committee, Linkages and the negotiating committees for both the Alberta Teachers' Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

According to Martins' online profile, he believes he has accomplished a lot during his two terms to date and now wants to prepare the district for the future and making sure the students are prepared.

"I believe it is important for our children to receive the best education possible, despite economic challenges."

Morag Pansegrau (Incumbent)

A trustee for 16 years now and hoping for three more, Pansegrau has two grown sons and works at the University of Alberta as an adjunct associate professor in the faculty of education.

Of particular concern in this race and the three years ahead are making sure education is properly funded and honouring the diversity of the student population.

"The government always says we have one of the best publicly funded systems in the world. We can always do things better. I just hope the government doesn't destroy some of the strengths it's taken decades to build up."

Joan Trettler (Incumbent)

Seeking a fifth term on the board of trustees, Trettler hopes her experience and self-proclaimed ongoing interest in education "and all things connected to it" will appeal to voters. She is a retired teacher and administrator with one grown stepson.

In part, Trettler is running because of the major changes in education that are being proposed, such as revisions to the School Act, but also because she wants to finish what she has started.

"I'm running partly because we have unfinished business I'd like to see completed."