Wade Smith weighs his op­tions fol­low­ing elec­tion de­feat

Says ru­mours sug­gest­ing he wanted to close Wood­land El­e­men­tary were un­true

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Wade Smith is not happy about the out­come of last week’s school board elec­tion, and he hasn’t ruled out tak­ing le­gal ac­tion.

For most of Wed­nes­day, the chair­man of the Help Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary com­mit­tee thought he was the vic­tor in Zone 12, giv­ing him a seat on the first fully-elected board of trustees for New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict.

How­ever, NLESD is­sued a news re­lease shortly af­ter 5 p.m. that day an­nounc­ing re­sults had been up­dated for mul­ti­ple zones, in­clud­ing Zone 12. A spokesman for the board has since con­firmed bal­lots from Wood­land El­e­men­tary in Dildo were not in­cluded in the first count.

That gave Hayward Blake al­most 300 ex­tra votes and only 25 for Smith, giv­ing the Har­bour Grace town coun­cil­lor a sur­pris­ing vic­tory — 784 to 678.

Smith learned about the new out­come shortly be­fore 5 p.m. when the re­turn­ing of­fi­cer con­tacted him by phone.

“I was to­tally blown away,” Smith told The Com­pass last Thursday. “I just couldn’t fig- ure out how some­thing like that could hap­pen, given the way the process was sup­posed to be done.

“Those bal­lots were sup­posed to be sent in. There was sup­posed to be no­ti­fi­ca­tion sent in the night af­ter the polls, with ev­ery­thing se­cured, and to find out at quar­ter-to-five, over 12 hours later, that I hadn’t been picked to be the (win­ning) can­di­date, and af­ter ev­ery­one an­nounc­ing it’s been posted on the web­site — I don’t know. It’s a to­tal shock … Given the way this elec­tion was and the way this board has been op­er­at­ing, it doesn’t sur­prise me.”

The out­come doesn’t change any­thing when it comes to fight­ing for the fu­ture of Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary, which is slated to close in June, a full year af­ter it was orig­i­nally set to close be­fore a Supreme Court rul­ing quashed a board of trustees mo­tion to shut down the school.

“I’m go­ing to fight for Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary,” he said.

Another school re­view took place af­ter the court case, re­sult­ing in a sec­ond call to close the K-6 school and move stu­dents to Wood­land El­e­men­tary.

Un­of­fi­cial re­sults from the poll at the lat­ter school would in­di­cate there was very lit­tle sup­port in the area for Smith’s can­di­dacy. Ac­cord­ing to Smith, there was a ru­mour mak­ing its way around the area sug­gest­ing he wanted to close Wood­land El­e­men­tary.

“I want to make that very clear that un­der no cir­cum­stances at any time did I even con­sider or have a thought in my mind about clos­ing Wood­land El­e­men­tary,” he said.

Smith also felt an un­fair ad­van­tage was given to Blake and for­mer board of trustees chair Mil­ton Peach. He claims both can­di­dates vis­ited schools to meet with staff, stu­dents and vol­un­teers. An of­fi­cial com­plaint was filed Nov. 9, af­ter which a memo was sent to all trustee can­di­dates and school prin­ci­pals re­quest­ing that such vis­its cease.

“The elec­tion was flawed from day one be­cause of this, as far as I’m con­cerned,” he said.

Smith in­tends to send a let­ter to the re­turn­ing of­fi­cer re­quest­ing a re­count, and he will also seek le­gal ad­vice in the com­ing days. “We’re not let­ting this go.” In a sub­se­quent in­ter­view with CBC last Thursday, Smith said he would like a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the vote.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Failed Zone 12 can­di­date Wade Smith thought he won Tues­day’s vote. But un­counted bal­lots from Wood­land El­e­men­tary changed the out­come.

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