UPDATED: Students First takes commanding control of Cowichan Board of Education

ELECTION 2014: seven-member board sees five from Students First team elected, none from rival Your Voice slate

UPDATED: Students First takes commanding control of Cowichan Board of Education

it was after midnight before the Cowichan Valley School District publicly reported its election results.

But when the smoke finally cleared, Cowichan voters had delivered a clear message in the wake of the firing of the board it elected in 2011.

The Students First team won a decisive victory. Five of its seven candidates were elected (Rob Hutchins, Candace Spilsbury, Joe Thorne, Cathy Schmidt and Barb DeGroot).

Independents Randy Doman and Elizabeth Croft took the other two seats.

All four members of the Your Voice team — which included Ellen Oxman and Deb Foster, fired as trustees in 2012 for supporting a deficit budget — finished out of the running.

The Students First team included former trustees Schmidt and Spilsbury, who were also fired by the provincial government despite voting against that illegal budget.

The two teams represented the camps that had divided the board for years leading up to the firing.

Ideologically, both Doman and Croft are considered to have more in common with Students First.

The fact Hutchins — the former Ladysmith Mayor and Cowichan Valley Regional District board chairman — topped the polls creates an interesting situation.

He had campaigned on a promise to explore the idea of breaking the Ladysmith area away from the Nanaimo School District and join it to Cowichan, with boundaries matching the CVRD’s.

Ladysmith and Cedar residents had been deeply concerned about a series of school closures in their area, which helped feed a backlash there that saw just two Nanaimo trustees re-elected.

Hutchins, who stepped aside as Ladysmith mayor, was elected to Ladysmith council. Thorne, who was also chasing two seats, failed to get re-elected in Duncan.

Unofficial results:

Rob Hutchins   6699 YES

Joe Thorne 5348 YES

Candace Spilsbury 5334 YES

Randy Doman 4975 YES

Cathy Schmidt   4938 YES

Barb de Groot 4791 YES

Elizabeth Croft 4090 YES

Keith Chicquen 3796

Deb Foster 3648

Kayla Barrett 3536

Connie Buckner 3314

Roger Chin 3088

Joanne de Lure 2899

Dana Arthurs 2821

Amy Matamba 2532

Ellen Oxman 2428