Kitchener-Waterloo·Waterloo Region Votes

In their words: Waterloo region's Catholic school board trustee candidates on their reasons for running

CBC K-W asked candidates for school board trustee to list their top three reasons for running in this election.
CBC K-W asked candidates for trustee in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to list their top three reasons for running in this election. Here's what they said, in their own words. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

School board trustee elections take place on Monday and there will be significant changes to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

Of the nine trustees currently on the board, only one is seeking re-election.

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo asked the candidates in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to list their top three reasons for running. The following are their responses in their own words. The responses are in alphabetical order by last name.

Cambridge-North Dumfries

There are six candidates running in Cambridge-North Dumfries. The three receiving the most votes will be elected.

The candidates are:

  • Winston Francis.
  • David Guerin.
  • Jesse Keels.
  • Michael John Rattee.
  • Marisa Phillips.
  • Robert Sikora.

Winston Francis did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

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David Guerin:

Reason 1: I am excited for the opportunity to give back to the community. I have been an active volunteer with a number of organizations and this seems like a natural next step for someone who wants to make a difference. 

Reason 2: I am passionate about the power of education and the impact it has on our future generations. Nothing is more important than setting up todays children for future success. 

Reason 3: I believe in the Catholic education system. I am a graduate of it myself and it helped shape the person I am today. I was raised by two teachers in the Catholic system. My wife and I have two children who attended schools in the WCDSB and both graduated from St. Benedict High School in Cambridge. I was pleased to be a part of the St. Benedict parent council during their time there. 

Jesse Keels did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

Marisa Phillips did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

Michael John Rattee:

Reason 1: I want to ensure that parents are fully informed and can express their views regarding the direction of their school and the educational wellbeing of their children. 

Reason 2: As a parent of a student with special needs in the Catholic board, I plan to champion the needs of all learners, especially those who are neuro-diverse and physically challenged. 

Reason 3: I will uphold traditional, God-centred Catholic education, by promoting the spiritual, emotional, and ethical growth of our students as we educate the whole person. 

Robert Sikora:

Reason 1: A desire to provide students the opportunity to achieve their potential whether that be STEM, the arts, trades or other.

Reason 2: Ensuring a safe and supportive environment for learning that can accommodate all students.

Reason 3: Students' education has suffered during the past two-plus years and the entire community needs to help recapture and restore the learning experience. 


There are eight candidates running in Kitchener-Wilmot. The four receiving the most votes will be elected.

The candidates are:

  • Wendy Ashby.
  • Simone Beaucage.
  • Kathy Doherty-Masters.
  • Dariusz Grabka.
  • Renée Kraft.
  • Julie Molenaar.
  • Tracey Weiler (incumbent).
  • Hadembes Yebetit.

Wendy Ashby:

Reason 1: I have two kids both attending school  in the board  their education is vitally important to me I have been on parent councils, and various committees I am currently on the Catholic parent involvement committee as the representative for the St. Mary's Catholic high school group of schools.

Reason 2: I feel very strongly about the vital role that education plays in our children's lives academically, mentally and emotionally and feel I can contribute strongly in all of these areas.

Reason 3: As a mental health professional, I feel my voice is one that has been missing from the table. Particularly with respect to reconciliation in education, LGBTQ2+ kids and families, anti-racism work and policy development around the mental health and well being of the diverse population in our board. This includes not just our students and families, but our educators as well. The last four years have been tough and strong advocates are needed to move forward into the next phase.  It is vital to support teachers and educators in the way they need us to at such a crucial time in this province.   

Simone Beaucage did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

Kathy Doherty-Masters:

Reason 1: I am passionate about supporting 'wellness for all'. This was my core belief during my three decade career as a professional educator with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. 

When I was the board's healthy active living consultant, personal experience and research both indicated that there is a strong connection between "wellness" and "achievement" on every level. Given my expertise, I believe that I am uniquely positioned to support 'wellness for all' for WCDSB staff and students going forward.

Reason 2: I have deep, deep roots with the WCDSB, and have embraced Catholic leadership roles on many occasions.  I have been a student, a teacher, a consultant, a parent and a volunteer with the board.  I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer recently as co-chair for the St. Mary's High School community legacy project which was a successful multi-year endeavour designed to improve the healthy active living facilities at St. Mary's High School. I believe that my experience in Catholic leadership roles will serve me well as a WCDSB trustee if elected.

Reason 3: Environmental stewardship is an absolute priority for me.  After my teaching career ended, I was the inaugural WCDSB Pope Francis Award for Ecological Leadership recipient given my volunteer work with the board in this area. If elected as a WCDSB trustee, I will continue to support all initiatives that foster an increased awareness of our shared urgent call to protect and nurture our planet.

Dariusz Grabka: 

Reason 1: Be an excellent advocate for all students and families who chose Catholic education in Kitchener and Wilmot.

Reason 2: Help make Waterloo region the best place to get a tech education in Canada; from supporting STEM and arts programs and funding, to making sure our technology policy, security, and privacy is top notch.

Reason 3: A commitment to transparency and accountability, including for budgets and policy.

Renee Kraft: 

Reason 1: I closely follow the activities of the school board and believe that decisions do not always reflect the perspective and needs of Catholic ratepayers. The board needs to be held accountable.

Reason 2: Being active in the Catholic community has given me a good understanding of many of their needs. I would like to be on the board of trustees to advocate for the needs of families with children in the school system as well as Catholic school system supporters at large.

Reason 3: I am running for Catholic school board trustee because I believe I have the skills needed to support a strong school system that upholds the Catholic faith and values, now and into the future. If elected, I am committed to prioritizing consultation and transparency.

Julie Molenaar:

Reason 1: I think change is truly needed. I believe children need help when it comes to mental illness to fight suicidal thoughts. 

Reason 2: It is my belief that students in the Waterloo school board deserve the best education and experience we can possibly give them. We need to access more resources for children to learn. Stay in the classroom for a year this year and extra help for the children that have fell begins due to the pandemic.

Reason 3: I am here for everyone. I do not believe in racism and I demonstrate a commitment to human rights, equity, diversity and inclusion across the board. No bullying of any kind is welcome. Treat others the way you want to be treated! 

Tracey Weiler:

Reason 1: If re-elected, I would continue to work hard to strengthen the relationship with all parents, staff and the community; with a focus on each student success.

Reason 2: To promote and support our schools as being leaders in a diverse, inclusive learning environment.

Reason 3: Ensure a board focus and leadership to promote and support the  social/emotional/physical/mental health and well-being of all staff and students across the system. 

Hadembes Yebetit did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.


There are four candidates in Waterloo-Wellesley-Woolwich. The two receiving the most votes will be elected. The candidates are:

  • Linda Cuff.
  • Nike Dattani.
  • Sally Fuentes.
  • Conrad Stanley.

Linda Cuff:

Reason 1: As we emerge from the pandemic, I want to ensure our students, teachers, and schools are placed first when recovering what we've lost from the past two years. 

Reason 2: I am a firm believer in our Catholic education system and, after the challenges from the past few years, I want to ensure that our students and teachers have a safe learning environment where they can thrive.

Reason 3: As part of the future of our Catholic education system, we need to address truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada. As a trustee, I look forward to supporting our board's efforts to further this vitally important work.

Nike Dattani did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

Sally Fuentes:

Reason 1: Help build a stronger community, where kindness and respect are present at all times based on the Catholic faith values. 

Reason 2: Prioritize student mental health and well being. 

Reason 3: Advocate for diversity and equity.

Conrad Stanley did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.