By Andrew Ehrkamp
News Editor

For Carla Smiley, the role of a school trustee goes beyond being a strong advocate for Catholic education, teachers, parents and students.

“I see Catholic schools are part of our evangelization mission, and that was the deciding factor for me,” said Smiley, who is running for election in Ward 73 in northeast Edmonton.

“Catholic schools have a unique vision of each person created in the image and likeness of God.”

Smiley ran as a candidate for the Edmonton Catholic School District board in 2010, and she wasn’t planning on running again.

However, with critics calling for a single school system in Alberta and the retirement of Ward 73 Trustee Cindy Olsen, Smiley said she couldn’t sit out this election. Catholic education is protected constitutionally, but Smiley said Catholics, herself included, can’t be complacent.

“The discord on the previous board has played into it for sure, and it’s made some people believe that there should be a single system,” Smiley said. “What’s overlooked are the wonderful things being done in Catholic schools. We’re hearing about something else in the media, and that’s discouraging.

“This is a decisive moment for Catholic education, so I consider being a trustee a full-time commitment and not something off to the side,” said Smiley, who resigned her position as the planned giving coordinator with the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton to run in the Oct. 16 election.

Smiley also noted that Ward 73 has its own challenges.

“Eleven of the 19 schools in the ward have some type of food program – whether it’s free breakfast or lunch – because they need them,” Smiley said. “Teachers are dealing with students who come to school with basic needs: food, clothing, and a safe place to be.”

Smiley said she would like to see more integration between local parishes and schools as part of a community effort towards a child’s education, noting that parishes have been overlooked as resources.

And it’s important for any new school board to work together, Smiley said. Her own team experience has come through the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton and Parent Advisory Councils at the schools that her two daughters attended. Smiley was also on the board of directors of the Community Services Society.

She also has been engaged in faith development programs for more than 20 years, most recently at St. Alphonsus Parish, and through the Catholic Women’s League.

Smiley has a bachelor’s degree in social work and she's continuing her studies towards a master’s degree in theology and a Catholic School Trustee certificate from Newman Theological College.

For more information on Smiley’s candidacy, visit

The other candidates in Ward 73 are Peter Davis and Jeff Lee.