By Lee Harding, Western Standard
Three Parents Voice BC school board candidates were elected on October 15 in what the organization touts as a successful debut.
Richard Procee was elected Trustee for School District #33 Chilliwack, while Carroll Walker and Daniel Albertson were elected Trustees for School District #91 Nechako Lakes in Northern B.C.
“We’re thrilled with our success, electing three candidates in two school districts, especially since ParentsVoice BC didn’t even exist four months ago,” said Marc Vella, founder of ParentsVoice BC.
“There’s a growing movement of parents and community members who don’t like what power-mad union leaders have done to our education system and to our children.”
The organization ran 28 candidates in 8 school districts to, in its words, give “a voice to the growing unrest” among the electorate. In a post-election press release, Vella said the organization had the attention of its opponents.
“Those unions came after us with such vengeance and vitriol. They revealed just how scared they are of this growing movement, and of ParentsVoice BC specifically, for challenging their erroneous belief that union leaders — not parents — should be the only ones making decisions in our education system.”
Union interests were a stated target for the organization on the ParentsVoice website, which also has a confidential teachers advisory council to get ground-level reports and advice for issues to address.
“Most of BC’s 60 School Boards are run by trustees who are there for the employees, government bureaucrats and special interest groups. They push their agendas ahead of the needs of our students and their futures,” the website said.
To counter this influence, the organization supported candidates who pledged to “put the needs of students and families first” by offering them “training, fundraising, a webpage, list management, financial controls, platform development, social media and marketing.”
In an interview with Western Standard, Vella said getting off the ground represented success and an organization like his was decades overdue. However, he believes the turnout by potential allies was low.
“We were running many candidates that were Conservatively held federal ridings … but if you looked the number of people who would vote for school board it was nowhere near that,” Vella said.
“It was typical centre-right voters not getting off their butts to vote in civic elections. I think that was probably the key for us…[The left] did some serious, massive mobilization. There was tons and tons of websites that were putting up hit pieces on my group and I think they were just blasting it around their networks getting everybody up.”
Near-misses included Lisa Alexis who earned 31,626 votes in SD36 Surrey, which was more than 6 of 8 elected city councillors received. In Maple Ridge SD 42, Brian Dominick fell 51 votes short of winning candidate Gabe Liosis.
“Surrey was bizarre. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Vella said.
“The people that won on school board were getting 45,000 votes, literally 10,000 more votes than the mayor. I have never seen it where more people showed up to vote for school board than for council or mayor.”
Re-elected Chilliwack trustee Heather Maahs welcomed Procee’s election, but noted five of the six trustees endorsed by the Chilliwack Teachers Association won their seats.
“Yeah, it tipped the scales. I really believe that it did,” Maahs said.
“To publicly endorse candidates is … very frowned upon. And it breaks the rules from Elections BC they did not register as an electoral organization. And that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re issuing press releases as an organization.”
Western Standard reached out to the Chilliwack Teachers Association for comment, but received none before deadline.
Procee received 7,047 votes in Chilliwack. Barry Neufeld, a long-time trustee opposed to gender transitions for students, was voted out, after he received 6,006 votes.
Vella served five years on the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) National Policy Committee. He is a former CPC riding President and Co-Chair for BC of a winning CPC Leadership Candidate campaign. He said his organization is aiming for a full slate of candidates in all 60 school board districts in 2026.