October 27, 2011
Most politicians have the gift of gab, but Tuesday night's marathon all-candidates meeting hosted by the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association pushed voice boxes to their limits as candidates met with community members to answer questions for almost three-and-a-half hours.
The format is similar to speed dating. Members of the community sat at tables and the candidates for council and the mayor's chair moved from table to table. Each candidate had five minutes at every table to introduce themselves and answer questions. Roughly 150 people took advantage of this first opportunity to meet all six candidates for mayor and 24 of the 25 candidates for council, with Roger McCarthy away on business.
While it's impossible to sum up an event with so many politicians talking for so many hours, Pique asked candidates what issues had come up the most during the round of the tables. Some of the issues in common include pay parking, municipal budgeting, funding priorities for the budget and RMI, the asphalt plant issue and the tone of the political debate in the resort.
Here's a brief summary of the candidates' responses to questions at Table 27:
Brian Reid was asked where he stood on the issue of pay parking. "We all came and we parked in the rutted-out gravel lots and now we have this great paved facility we spent a lot of our savings on. But if it's something we don't want to pay back, that's what we can do. I like the idea of having pay parking in Lot 1 and keeping everything else free..."
Mayoral candidate Miro Kolvek was asked why he was running for mayor and not council. He summed it up as business experience. "One of my big concerns is municipal hall and the budget, and taking a close look at costs... we need to take a close look at how it is run. From what I hear it's not run like a business... they have huge salaries, there are two or three people making more than the Prime Minister of Canada. And the mayor makes too much. Three years ago they moved the salary from $40,000 to $80,000, which is a 100 per cent increase."
Council candidate Allan Jenner said one of his issues is the budget, and use of consultants to make decisions. "One of the things that I think that council and the RMOW do too much of is hiring consultants to tell them what to do. We have a professional staff sitting at municipal hall and they know what to do. And to have a blue ribbon panel (on the budget) and then have them say 'no expenses can be cut so the only solution is raising taxes...' I say nonsense. Of course you can cut expenses."