Rob Kirkham has traded in his councillor position for the mayor's seat at the front of the Squamish Council Chamber.
Kirkham pulled out a 179-vote victory over his challenger, Auli Parviainen, on Saturday in Squamish's municipal general election. In squeaking by the former Whistler resident who has lived in Squamish for only two years, Kirkham will form a new council for the next three years with Patricia Heintzman, Doug Race, Ron Sander, Bryan Raiser, Ted Prior and Susan Chappelle.
Heintzman was re-elected and topped the polls with 2,293 votes, ten more than the total number of ballots cast for Kirkham. Race was also an incumbent and he picked up 2,088 votes while newcomer Ron Sander polled third in the councillor race with 1,728 votes. Raiser, another incumbent, received 1,648 votes and Prior followed close behind with 1,630 votes.
First-time campaigner Susan Chappelle won the final spot on council with 1,601 votes and Jeff Cooke followed Chappelle with support from 1,327 people in his first bid for a spot on Squamish council.
"We've got a really diverse group that got elected as councillors," said Kirkham on Saturday shortly after he learned the election results. "It looks like a good group that we can work with."
Kirkham's win gave him a second term in office following his successful first campaign in the 2008 election. Greg Gardner, the current mayor, decided not to seek re-election. Gardner is stepping out of politics after one full term as mayor and a partial term as a councillor before that.
The first priority for Kirkham is to get the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) on track. Kirkham's new team members are also concerned about the future of the SODC and the land it controls at the top of Howe Sound.
Councillor-elect Sander said he is looking for a responsible resolution and direction for the SODC.
"I've talked about an option that is available and I know that certainly a lot of people have put their hearts and minds into another option, but at the end of the day the solution has to be a responsible solution that doesn't put the taxpayers at risk," Sander said.
Developing a solid marine industry on a portion of the waterfront lands was listed as a key issue of Sander's election platform. His platform document indicates his desire for family-supporting oceanfront jobs and perpetual economic return to Squamish.
"I'm open to listening to the alternatives that are available and collectively with the group that's there coming up with what I hope is a responsible solution that doesn't mire us in $17 to $20 million in debt," said Sander.
Like Sander, Prior's vision of the waterfront isn't necessarily consistent with the recent discussion as he said he believes the Mamquam Blind Channel north of the oceanfront land should be the focus before the SODC lands are developed.