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Historic vote ushers in change

No incumbents on new team, led by first female mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden



It wasn't just lip service to get elected: Mayor-elect Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said she plans to scrap pay parking in the day lots by Christmas.

As per her election platform, Wilhelm-Morden wants to do away with parking in Lots 2-5, with pay parking in Lot 1 only for the premium spots closest to the base of the mountains.

"I would like to have something in place before Christmas," she said, speaking from her law office Monday morning.

She knows she needs the support of her new team to do that - she is just one vote at the council table after all - but she's forging ahead with one of her key election promises.

"That's my focus and I've spoken with some of the members of my team about whether they will support me with that."

When asked if it seemed like she had support for the million-dollar decision she said: "I think so."

She certainly has support in the community.

In a landslide victory Saturday night, Wilhelm-Morden secured the mayor's seat with more than 2,600 votes, roughly 2,000 more than incumbent Ken Melamed. She is joined at the table by six brand new councillors, a history-making vote that wiped the council table clean of any incumbents.

"This is the first time an entire incumbent council has been replaced, the first time in Whistler's history," said Wilhelm-Morden. "So again, it's a huge message of Whistler wanting change."

It was an agonizing wait Saturday night for the council contenders.

Standing out in a dark silver dress at the Cinnamon Bear, Wilhelm-Morden stayed busy talking to supporters in the room, glancing down at her phone for any news.

The results came in later than expected at around 10:15 p.m. Wilhelm-Morden realized without a doubt that the community had spoken loudly and clearly, choosing her to be its leader for change.

"It's scary," she said minutes after the news, her daughters Sarah and Jessie never very far from her side and husband Ted close by as well. "The expectations are going to be so high."

After a day of reflection spent watching football on TV and taking phone calls from her friends and family, Wilhelm-Morden was already hard at work on the job ahead. In addition to pay parking, she's going to immediately have the mayor's salary reduced by $10,000 to $77,000 and hopes to instruct staff to begin preparing the bylaws to deal with the illegal non-conforming space issue in Whistler. She wants that on her desk by March 1.

"The fact that so many people have confidence in me, like I said on Saturday night, it's overwhelming. But it's also such a vote of confidence. I really can move forward into the next three years, wanting to get things done, knowing that the community is behind me."

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