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Candidate profile: Ira Pettle

Advance voting Oct. 10 and 13; general voting on Oct. 20



During the two-minute introductions at Whistler's first all-candidates meeting on Sept. 26, Ira Pettle took a bit of a different approach.

Pettle stood up and asked the crowd to clap in unison if they care about different issues: Housing, transit, the environment and more.

It was an interesting take on the standard political introduction—Pettle standing out in the crowd and engaging hundreds in a short but memorable dialogue—but the obvious criticism was that Pettle didn't actually say anything.

"I was actually using words that the other candidates had brought up as things that are important to their campaign," he said.

"There are so many things that are important to so many people here ... so it's hard for me to say, 'I stand for this,' or 'I stand for that.' What I feel like I do stand for is that everybody has a voice."

In running for council, the 40-year-old entertainer and educator is hoping to bring that penchant for dialogue to the wider community.

Even when looking at specific issues like housing, Pettle said he sees a wide range of conversations to be had.

"The best contribution I can make, and this is what I do really well, is to create the space where everybody can be heard and a healthy community dialogue can happen that will give us the answers we're looking for," he said.

"If I was to sum up my campaign, it's that we're all in this together, whether it's environmental issues or housing issues or mature-action issues, we all are responsible for one another."

While he's the first to admit he may be greener than other candidates, Pettle said he is eager to learn.

"I'm learning a lot, for sure, which has been amazing ... every time I learn something, 10 more things show up, so on that level I can say with confidence that I don't know everything, and I definitely want to own that publicly," he said.

"I have a hunger to learn, and I can play catch up and I'm happy and excited to learn everything there is to know about how to be as effective as I can be, but my strength is not in the knowledge base, per se, but rather in the practice of bringing people together, of being a bridge, of creating dialogue and creating community."

Pettle said he was encouraged to see things like supporting the arts and mental health discussed at the first all-candidates meeting (see page 30 for related story), and would like to carry those conversations forward whether he's elected or not.

"What would it look like if we were actually focused on creating systems to address not when people are about to jump off the building, but address and help and support people throughout their entire experience of being alive?" he said.

"Those are some of the things that, regardless of how this all goes, I'm going to be shifting my energy into creating opportunities for the community to support itself."