Pique Oct. 6, 2011
The race for the mayor's chair in Whistler has picked up the pace this week in the wake of Mayor Ken Melamed's plans to go for a trifecta.
The mayor announced he will be running for a third term as mayor in November's election, effectively changing the two-person match between Councillor Ralph Forsyth and former councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden into a three-way race.
With roughly ten days left to declare, the mayor said one of the reasons he waited this long to announce was to gauge his competition.
"I wanted to see who was going to step forward," said Melamed, keeping cozy in his slippers as the October night drew in quickly around his Alpine cabin.
Lovingly restored by the mayor and his wife over the years, Melamed is relaxed at home, a picture in sharp contrast to the fight that lies in the weeks ahead against what is arguably his toughest competition in an election to date.
He's under no illusions that this won't be a battle, maybe even a bitter battle with emotions running high in Whistler. Emotions were so high earlier this year that Melamed's car tires were slashed, as were those of former municipal administrator Bill Barratt - a low point in the term.
As with past elections, and Melamed has been through his share in the last 15 years as a councillor and then as mayor, he has steeled himself for the fight.
"You never for a minute assume it's going to be easy," he admitted.
This is different from elections past.
In 2005 when he first ran for mayor, Melamed knew he wanted to see Whistler through the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010 - he knew he wanted to have two terms in office. He beat out Ted Nebbeling in 2005 by about 350 votes for a total of more than 1,700. Perhaps the deciding factor in that election was the near 350 votes taken by the third candidate, Kristi Wells.
In 2008, with five mayoral candidates in the running, Wells was his stiffest competition. Again, he won by over 300 votes - 1,527 votes for Melamed, 1,218 for Wells. There was no main third contender in that race.
This time around he had to do some soul searching, ask himself what he really wanted, particularly in light of the volatile mood of the community.
"It was a different process (deciding to run for a third time). What hasn't changed is my love for the community and my commitment."
Sectors of the community, however, are demanding answers from this council - from pay parking, to the asphalt plant, to transparent government and municipal spending. Hours after his announcement to run, a Facebook page was created called "Vote for Ken Melamed for Mayor 'NOT.'"