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Election campaigns promise change

Voters left in the cold, Millennium Place too small for crowds

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Pique, Nov. 10, 2011

It's still anyone's game for council, but the tough job now lies with the voters who must separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to campaign promises.

That much was evident at Monday's all candidates meeting, less than two weeks out from the municipal election, where the mood for change in the community was palpable but the way to achieve that change wasn't as clear.

Hundreds of voters showed up to hear from the six mayoral candidates, all 25 council contenders, and three of the four school trustee candidates, with the crowd overflowing out of the Millennium Place auditorium, and spilling into the foyer and entrance.

That was a big disappointment for resident Rick Clare who took the time to make the meeting, couldn't get a seat and left disappointed. Millennium Place, which only holds 240, was not the right venue to host a meeting with more than 30 candidates, he said.

"We paid for parking and went there to get informed," said Clare Tuesday.

"It's an important time," he said, adding that people are craving information and trying to learn as much as they can about the candidates.

This all candidates meeting, hosted by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and the Whistler Arts Council, was one of the few public forums to see the candidates debate, think on the spot and put their best face forward.

While there was no clear winner during the mayoral debate, the race has narrowed to the three frontrunners, with incumbents Mayor Ken Melamed and councillor Ralph Forsyth defending their decisions this term and outlining their plans going forward, while former councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden clearly listed her 10-point campaign promises.

It was those promises that made the audience sit up and take notice.

She vowed: No more tax increases. A roll back of pay parking in Lots 2 to 5. A pay cut as mayor. A promise to "fix transit." A pledge to restore the trust between the community and the hall.

In a way it was a promise to right the wrongs of the past, soothe the angst in the community, sounding almost too good to be true.

"She's got my vote," joked mayoral candidate Shane Bennett as he took the stage after her. "That was pretty good."

Mayor Melamed appeared confident and didn't mince his words when he took the stage.

"The slash and burn candidates will change our resort economy," he said, referring to the idea of cost cutting at municipal hall.

Now is not the time to be pulling the flower baskets from the village or putting away the Christmas lights.

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