Hayward Blake surprise victor in school board elections
Uncounted ballots change outcome; former Trepassey principal takes Zone 13
In a shocking turn of events, Hayward Blake was declared the winning candidate for Zone 12 in provincial school board elections.
When results were first released last Wednesday on the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District website, everyone thought Wade Smith — one of the most prominent critics of NLESD and government over the decision to close Whitbourne Elementary — was the winner by a comfortable margin.
This morning when I checked I was well behind and thought, ‘Oh well. I gave it a good shot.’ Hayward Blake
Results showed Smith garnered 653 votes and Blake 486, with former school board chair Milton Peach and Edward Cole well behind Smith. No mention was made of polls yet to report, thought the website did indicate there were other zones still waiting on results such as Zone 16 in St. John’s, where NLESD reported that one poll remained to be counted.
But later in the day, new results put the Harbour Grace councillor ahead of Smith by a count of 784 to 678. A poll was reportedly missed in the earlier count due to a faxing error, according to NLESD.
Reached by The Compass that evening, Blake admitted he was surprised to earn less than 500 votes, given he felt there were good pockets of support in communities like Carbonear, Harbour Grace and around New Harbour. But he did not at any point suspect a poll had been missed entirely.
“This morning when I checked I was well behind and thought, ‘ Oh well. I gave it a good shot,’” said Blake. He did request a breakdown of results for the polling stations, though he did not receive a response prior to the release of the updated results.
“I feel really bad for the people — particularly Mr. Smith, who was declared the winner early this morning and now unfortunately for him, discovered that that’s not the case. That can be quite disheartening for sure.”
Moving forward, Blake hopes to help make the board of trustees more accountable and transparent in its dealings with the education system. He is a former principal at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts who went on to work for the Avalon East School District. He’s now an employee of Memorial University’s Faculty of Education.
Elsewhere, former Stella Maris principal Kevin Ryan was the winner in Zone 13, an area that encompasses Spaniard’s Bay, Bay Roberts, Clarke’s Beach, Placentia and the Southern Shore. Ryan narrowly beat former school board trustee Eric A. Snow by only 16 votes (374-358). Des Linehan was third with 172 and Kay Crane finished last with 119.
Kevin Ryan is a former principal at Stella Maris in Trepassey.
Hayward Blake is the surprise winner in Zone 12. Initial results for the school board election suggested another candidate had won.