Biologist Carin Bondar has been elected to the Chilliwack School Board, following a byelection campaign that saw her targeted with controversial billboard ads and criticized for videos posted to her YouTube channel.
“It’s definitely been a little more challenging than I was expecting,” Bondar said Sunday in an interview with Global News, adding that she had faced personal attacks in the campaign.
“I guess what I want to say most of all is it’s resulted in an unprecedented turnout and a fantastic result that really shows Chilliwack is looking to have science and women and representation that includes compassion and inclusivity.”
Byelections for municipal office positions generally tend to draw poor turnout, but Saturday’s vote saw more than 10,000 Chilliwack residents cast a ballot.
Bondar defeated candidate Richard Procee, 5,455 votes to 4,786.
That high turnout was likely due, in part, to how the campaign became charged over social issues.
Chilliwack’s school board has been polarized between social conservative and progressive trustees in recent years.
There have also been a number of controversies over comments by sitting Trustee Barry Neufeld.
In December, the province appointed a pair of special advisors to review the board.
Bondar, who has spent much of her career with an educational focus on reproduction and evolution, has posted a number of online videos on the topic that critics said were too explicit for a school trustee.
She also parodied Miley Cyrus in Wrecking Ball to explain awareness surrounding the process of evolution by natural selection, which some called racy and used to try to discredit her during the campaign.
“I stand strongly behind my entire body of work,” she said.
“While some material was crafted for an audience that’s slightly older, it’s important for our students to know and understand that sexuality is a huge part of who we are, and I certainly don’t shy away from that at all.”
Bondar said she’s excited and ready to work with all trustees on the board, regardless of their political opinions, and wants to prioritize science literacy.
She will replace Dan Coulter, who was elected as the MLA for Chilliwack back in October.