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Candidates sound off as election countdown begins

Meetings help residents decide who to vote for on Nov. 19

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Marilyn Kapchinsky hasn’t completely made up her mind who she’s voting for in the election but one vote is probably going to someone she met just last week.

"I’m really impressed with some of the younger men who are running for the first time," said Kapchinsky, as the crowd milled around Saturday’s Chamber of Commerce all candidates meeting. "They bring this youth and this enthusiasm and they’ve got some really good ideas.

"I think one of them is going to get my vote."

Election candidates were given two different forums last week to espouse their views for the future of Whistler and answer some tough questions from residents.

In addition to the Chamber’s meeting Kapchinsky also attended WORCA’S all candidates meeting last Thursday, which offered a more informal approach to the election as candidates bounced between 23 tables every five minutes to answer questions from a handful of interested and engaged locals.

It was like a whirlwind round of speed dating, complete with election gimmicks from tic-tacs to fridge magnets and even a "life plant" which accompanied one candidate as he made the rounds.

Like speed dating, some of the questions touched on the personal.

When one person asked former Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden if she would work with Ted Nebbeling again as mayor she replied: "I can work with Zippy the dog."

She did add, however, that she was supporting Ken Melamed for mayor.

Along with the personal, residents asked questions about several specific issues, from Larco’s rezoning for London Drugs and Whistler-Blackcomb’s Peak to Peak gondola to the sinking buildings at Eva Lake and the Class 1/Class 6 taxation dispute.

In a broader sense, affordable housing topped the list as the topic top of mind for Whistler, along with the economy.

Mayoral candidate Nebbeling talked about harnessing the enormous media attention that will descend on Whistler in the next five years in the lead up to the Olympics as his way of stimulating the economy.

"I think it is a very great tool to bring the world earlier to Whistler," he said.

As in any election, however, there was a lot of focus on the work of the current council. Many residents at the WORCA meeting asked the candidates how they propose to work as a team, given the dysfunctional nature of the current council. Incumbent Marianne Wade addressed this issue at one table.

"I don’t consider it dysfunctional," she said.

She likened council to a minority government, adding that she believed three new people were elected in 2002 to facilitate change.

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