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Dee Beattie is now a former school board trustee: what that means for New West voters

New West has the option to go to a byelection, according to the School Act

Left: Dee Beattie. Right: a screenshot of the now-deleted @alfromnw Twitter account. (Beattie’s photo: Community First)

A saga at the school board that has spanned much of this year has closed one chapter, and is expected to move into a byelection.

Now-former New West Schools Trustee Dee Beattie is confirmed to have handed in her resignation at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The Anchor was not at the meeting, but was able to confirm the news with two individuals who were present for the announcement.

Her resignation comes after she admitted to New West Anchor in a statement that she was behind the “Allan Whitterstone” persona on X/Twitter.

After admitting to her actions, Beattie was also confirmed to have stepped away from Community First, the party she’d ran with.

Beattie was serving her second term as a school board trustee.

New West parent Sarah Arboleda—who goes by Sarah Siegel on Twitter—noted that, in her opinion, it had taken too long for Beattie to resign.

Arboleda was the person who called out Beattie over X/Twitter, following what she characterized as a trail of digital bread crumbs to put two and two together, discussing her sleuthing in an online thread at the beginning of the summer.

Arboleda was one of the individuals who had been harassed by the Allan Whitterstone account. Additional victims included former school board Trustee Mary Lalji and former BC Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring.

When are we going to the polls?

According to the School Act there must be an odd number of people on the school board.

“A board consists of 3, 5, 7 or 9 trustees, as determined by order of the minister under this section,” says the opening lines of part four of the School Act.

Based on the “School Trustee Election Procedures” document, the Chief Electoral Officer, once appointed, must call for the vote within 80 days of taking the job.

“The next step is for the City to be officially informed of the resignation of the trustee,” the City’s Jacque Killawee told The Anchor via email, who adds that the school board’s notification must happen within 30 days of the resignation. “Then within 30 days after receiving the notification from the School District the City will appoint a Chief Election Officer and at that time will be in a position to discuss the next steps.”

At the time of the correspondence, Killawee noted the formal notice to the City from the school board had not yet happened.

Who is running in the election?

The New West Progressives, which have been pushing for a resignation and a byelection since news of Beattie’s actions came out, are the official opposition to Community First.

They announced their intent to run Kathleen Carlsen in the event any byelection takes place, as The Anchor previously reported.

Carlsen ran in the last election, coming in second-to-last place out of 9 candidates. She secured 7,418 votes. 

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On Monday evening, the party brought up the issue pertaining to Beattie at city council, with Coun. Paul Minhas asking via motion for council to call upon all elected officials to basically follow the same principles council does, and two, for staff to confirm whether there would be enough capacity to be able to support the school board in the event of a byelection.

After some discussion, city staff noted there would be support in the event a byelection takes place. Minhas’ motion was severed into two parts, with the first section related to council principles supported. As a formality, the second part of the motion was not, as Coun. Daniel Fontaine—who is also a part of the Progressives—agreed that staff had provided enough information during the meeting.

On the Community First front, the party has announced it’ll be vetting candidates in the days to come.

“Community First is relieved to hear of Dee Beattie's resignation from the New Westminster School Board. Her resignation was the right thing to do and now allows for a by-election to replace her seat,” the party stated over X/Twitter.

“Our party looks forward to nominating a candidate who will gain the confidence of New Westminster students, families, staff, community partners and government funders,” the statement continues.

There have been no formal announcements regarding other individuals intending to run in the byelection.

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