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Female councillors get personal with Women of Whistler

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Representing Whistler requires some personal sacrifices

When Councillor Caroline Lamont was elected to Whistler council over a year ago, she dreaded taking her young child to Nesters lest there be a toddler meltdown in the vegetable aisle.

Everyone would judge her parenting skills accordingly, she joked, because she would no longer be just an anonymous parent shopping with her kid. Her every move, even the way she disciplined her children, would be under the community microscope, open to public scrutiny, once she became Councillor Lamont.

"The reality is you’re a public figure," she said.

Lamont and fellow female councillors Marianne Wade and Kristi Wells shared some of these personal experiences of life as a public figure at Tuesday’s Women of Whistler meeting.

They talked about assuming the public face as well as some of the current politics unfolding at municipal hall.

About 30 Whistler women came to the meeting to get an inside look at local politics from the female point of view.

Since getting into politics each female councillor has had to make some sacrifices in their own lives for their public work.

For example Lamont juggles her municipal responsibilities along with a planning job at Brent Harley & Associates and a family life with a husband and two children. She is also a keen mountain biker, trail runner, hockey player and cross-country and downhill skier.

Something had to give a little when she became a councillor.

"Recreation is so important to me and I’ll be honest, that’s taken the biggest hit," she said.

For Marianne Wade, who was elected along with Lamont in the 2002 fall election, her new role has affected her professional career. This in turn has had some financial repercussions.

Wade is a planning consultant who works on a contract basis but due to conflicts of interest she had to look for work beyond Whistler.

This proves to be even more difficult at times because with all her various meetings as an elected official, it can be hard to get out of Whistler and network in her field.

It was a choice however that she didn’t mind making to become involved in local politics.

Councillor Kristi Wells first made that decision 11 years ago, before she had even been to a single council meeting or knew what a rezoning was. She delved right into the game, which she said was the best possible hands-on education. Last election she even considered running for mayor.

Though she believed she was ready for the challenge, she also recognized that being mayor is a full-time commitment. She had a two-year-old baby girl at home and she ultimately made the decision that it wasn’t the right time in her life to run for mayor.

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