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The future is female: women dominate the race for New Westminster school board

The New Westminster school board is going to look a lot different come November.

The New Westminster school board is going to look a lot different come November.

Female candidates dominated the New Westminster school board polls with Anita Ansari, Dee Beattie and Gurveen Dhaliwal coming out on top, followed by Mark Gifford and Maya Russell, all of whom ran under the Team Cote banner.

Claiming the final two spots on school board are Danielle Connelly, the only member of the New Westminster Progressives’ slate to get elected, and incumbent Mary Lalji, who remains the only elected independent candidate in the city.

Compared to the school boards of the past few decades, that’s a big change.

“There’s so many women!” exclaimed first-time trustee Gurveen Dhaliwal.

Dhaliwal is one of five women and one of two women of colour elected to the school board Saturday night.

“This has been the hardest four months ever, and I just didn’t think, I don’t know, I’m just losing it right now. I knocked on thousands of doors and so many people resonated with what I meant when I was talking about mental health, when I was talking about immigrant households, when I was talking about how our schools can be more supportive, but I just can’t believe they went out and voted,” she said.

Beattie echoed Dhaliwal’s excitement.

Beattie ran in the 2016 byelection and lost by less than 100 votes to Lalji. This time around, though, she pushed hard and found herself and came in second with 6,511, according to the city’s unofficial results.

“I always thought I was a couple votes behind, so that motivated me to work a little bit harder. I know what it’s like to be behind, so I knew what it was like and I just kept going,” Beattie said.

When asked what she thought about the new, female-dominated school board, she laughed.

“Mark’s going to be so surrounded by women he isn’t going to know what to do,” she said.

“I think we have some great people with great ideas, and I think we’re going to be able to work together. I think it’s going to really work out nicely.”

Connelly agreed.

“I’ve worked with a lot of these folks, I’ve been on PACs with these folks. I don’t see any issue moving forward with anyone who’s put their name forward,” she told the Record.