Municipalities across B.C. have declared their elected mayors, councils and school trustees in this year’s civic election.
Students under voting age were also able to cast their votes – unofficially – to make their voices heard – voices which differed greatly from the official results in both Surrey and White Rock.
Student Vote is a program that aims to inform young people about politics and democracy in their communities so they can get a head start on experiencing the voting process.
Students from 35 elementary schools and six secondary schools in the Surrey school district were able to cast their vote this year.
“It’s important to learn about this when we’re young so in the future we can make rational decisions that benefit us,” said Tristan Nguyen, a Surrey resident and Grade 10 student at Salish Secondary.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, eligible voters made their picks for mayor, councillors and school trustees across the province. Brenda Locke of Surrey Connect beat incumbent mayor Doug McCallum with 33,311 votes to 32,338. Further south, Megan Knight beat incumbent mayor of White Rock Darryl Walker with 2,001 votes to Walker’s 1,811.
But for students from 41 schools in the Surrey school district, it was a sweep for Jinny Sims from Surrey Forward with 2,024 votes, with McCallum (Safe Surrey Coalition) in second with 1,787 votes. New mayor-elect Locke (Surrey Connect) did not seem like a popular choice for students, receiving 1,032 votes and ranking fifth out of eight candidates, behind Surrey First’s Gordie Hogg (1,337) and United Surrey’s Sukh Dhaliwal (1,231).
Sixth place went to People’s Council candidate Amrit Birring with 712 votes to show for him. Independent candidates Kuldip Pelia and John Wolanski came in seventh and eighth with 236 and 232 votes respectively.
Grade 10 Students at Salish Secondary have spent the school year so far learning about politics in class to get them ready to express their political voices once they are adults.
“When they’re researching the candidates, they’ll be like ‘Madame, this is a false dilemma’ or ‘Isn’t this person making a personal attack?’ so they’re starting to recognize those logical fallacies show up in a lot of political campaigns,” said Nicole Jarvis, a French and social sciences teacher at the school.
Jasmine Robertson Zhou – another Grade 10 student who participated in Student Vote this year – would like to see local politics possibly transfer to a ward system rather than the at-large system we have currently so individuals’ voices “can be heard better.”
In a ward system, mayors are still elected at-large, but residents get to vote for their area-representative who vote on all council motions – similar to electing provincial and federal representatives.
As for councillors, Philip Aguirre (Surrey Forward), Linda Annis (Surrey First), Harry Bains (Surrey Connect), Ramon Bandong (Surrey Forward), Mike Bose (Surrey First), Jeff Bridge (United Surrey), Bilal Cheema (Surrey First) and Andy Dhillon (United Surrey) were victorious by the student vote.
Of the eight candidates chosen by students, three were elected by eligible voters – Annis, Bains and Bose.
The differences do not stop there, as students under the voting age chose to stick with the established in White Rock. Walker won the student vote with 30, with Knight placing second with 24 votes. Erika Johanson came in third with 16 and Scott Kristjanson not far behind with 15 total votes.
Of their chosen councillors – Herb Amaral (26), Ron Calliou (29), David Chesney (28), Elaine Cheung (30), Stephen Crozier (33) and Bill Lawrence (42) – three were officially elected. Those three are Chesney, Cheung and Lawrence.
Only two schools participated in the Student Vote program for the seaside city – St. John Paul II Academy and White Rock Elementary.
School board trustees chosen by the Surrey school district consisted of Bob Holmes (Surrey First Education Team), Balbir Gurm (Team Surrey Schools), Lisa Alexis (Parents Voice BC), Roxanne Charles (Team Surrey Schools), Shawn Wilson (Surrey First Education Team) and Terry Allen (Surrey First Education Team). Surrey First Education Team was re-elected for the official election.
Electing school trustees who support all 2SLGBTQ+ members was one of the most important factors when casting their vote for the students from Salish Secondary.
“Some of them were homophobic and I want to (support) inclusivity,” said Tia Van De Ruitenbeek, another high school student who voted.
All of the other students who participated in Student Vote at the school agreed with her.
“Some students have a certain identity at school that only their friends and teachers know about and at home, they could be going by different pronouns. The (idea) that parents need to know everything, I don’t really like that because there’s no privacy, there’s no boundary,” Nguyen said.
To see the full breakdown of results for Student Vote, go to studentvote.ca/results/bclocal2022