Work, family and artistic endeavours behind Watt's decision

Although a controversy earlier this year had New Westminster school trustee considering running for reelection in the Nov. 19 civic election, Lori Watt decided to stick to her original decision and not seek a fourth term in office.

Watt was accused by resident and former trustee candidate Patrick O'Connor of conflict of interest because she works for CUPE BC. The union has strongly promoted a ban on bottled water in schools, something the district decided against. CUPE also contributed to her previous campaigns.

"Certainly it was upsetting for me to have a member of the public attacking my integrity," said Watt of contemplating running again. "I didn't want that perception in the community."

Eventually work, other pursuits and family won out. When nominations closed last Friday her name was not included.

The single mother said that along with enjoying her son's final two years in high school, she is looking forward to pursuing her artistic endeavours. Watt has produced theatre shows, made short films and done a public service announcement on preventing suicide.

"It's something I'm quite passionate about and I'm going to pursue that," said Watt.

Another incumbent, Brent Atkinson, also decided against running again after 31 years as a trustee. He said his main reason for not running was because it had become too difficult for the board of education to reach consensus decisions.

"I don't want to be leaving with some sour grapes. There has been some political grandstanding on the board in the last few years," said Watt. "It's really quite unfortunate. We're a strong group of people to begin with and we do try to do what is best for the people in the district. Although it may be challenging I think we've managed to do that."

Although she's not running, Watt said she will be involved in the election. She will continue to support board chair Michael Ewen and trustee James Janzen, and finds two other non-incumbents, Jonina Campbell and David Phelan, "interesting."

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