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List of council candidates continues to grow

Jeff Murl, Cathy Jewett, Arthur De Jong declare; nominations close Sept. 14

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UPDATE: As of the end of the day on Thursday, Sept. 13, five more candidates had officially filed nomination papers.

Nathan Hawkins, David Buzzard, John Grills, Lance Bright and Tova Jamernik have all added their names to the growing list of those who will run for council.

Candidates have until 4 p.m. on Friday to file their nomination papers.

In Pemberton, only incumbent Mike Richman has filed papers to run for mayor, while incumbent Ted Craddock is the only listed council candidate.

Nicole Sugden will run for school trustee.

If three more people don’t come forward to run for council before 4 p.m. Friday, the nomination period will be extended to Monday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. Following that, the Village of Pemberton would make a Declaration of No Election, said manager of corporate and legislative services and chief election officer Sheena Fraser, in an email.

“The notice will also advise that pursuant to section 100 (1) of the Local Government Act the Village will appoint a qualified person(s) to the office of Councillor for the term,” Fraser said. “In the case of a general local election, the appointment must be made within 30 days after the local government’s first meeting at which the candidates elected in the election are holding office. In the event that the local government is unable to make an appointment the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing must make an appointment.”

In the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD), three candidates are currently running unopposed: incumbents Russell Mack (Area C) and Tony Rainbow (Area D) and newcomer Vivian Birch-Jones (Area B). In Area A, three candidates have stepped forward: Karen Playfair, Allan Moritz and John Courchesne.

Two SLRD candidates for school trustee are also running unopposed: Rebecca Barley (Area C) and Celeste Bickford (Area D).

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As the nomination period for the October 20 election draws to a close, a flurry of candidates have submitted nomination papers for council or otherwise announced their intentions to run.

This week saw three more residents announce for Whistler council—read about the latest (presented in the order that they were interviewed by Pique) and check back with www.piquenewsmagazine.com on Friday for a complete run-down of confirmed candidates in Whistler, Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

JEFF MURL

At 38 years old with his first child on the way, Jeff Murl is hoping to add another voice for a segment that has been underrepresented at council in recent years.

"We're a young town ... our median age is like 32 and a half. I think it's important to have representation that's of your age group," Murl said.

"Often in these groups it's retired folks, and that's not to say they're not capable, but there should be representation for the people that are here, and that's young people like myself (who are) trying to make families and trying to make things happen, who aren't as established as some of the others."

An accountant and former restaurant owner, Murl has taught ski school in Whistler for 14 years and has lived full time in the community for five years.

He's sat on Vancouver boards such as the Vancouver Urban Farming Society, the Beaumont Studios Artist Society and was chair of a citizens committee responsible for studying amalgamation on the North Shore.

Unsurprisingly, he was typically tapped to be treasurer.

In Whistler, the "big buzz word" is housing, Murl said.

"That's what everyone wants to talk about. I don't have any magic bullet, but it's something that I feel like I'd rather be involved in as an accountant ... I want to make sure that any decisions are fiscally responsible and don't negatively impact the finances of our community," he said.

Murl would also like to have an "honest conversation about growth" in Whistler.

"I feel like as a community we don't want to keep growing because of traffic and housing constraints, but then for jobs and opportunities, everyone who has a business wants to keep growing, and we're obviously dominated by Vail (Resorts, which) will want to grow regardless, because that's (its) job," Murl said.

"I know we have limited levers as a community to control what they do, but I'd love to be in a position to dictate a little more as to how their plan goes, because they're a publicly traded company and they're going to just push, push, push.

"We really need to be honest in the community—are we willing to let this happen? Because we know where they're going."

Hindsight tends to be 20/20, and the past is often painted in a positive light when compared to the present, Murl said.

"We've had slow times, and I would rather be planning for those ahead, because we've had some boom years. I would really like to make sure our plan is to allow us to slow down again, and be conservative in what we do," he said.

"So that's where I want to come in and just make sure that we're thinking about the negative impacts as well, and not just remembering the positive stuff."

CATHY JEWETT

With one year of experience under her belt, incumbent Councillor Cathy Jewett—first elected in an October 2017 byelection—feels ready for four more.

"I had a really great first year. I learned a lot, and I think I'd like to take that experience and be able to make a difference in the next four years," Jewett said.

"I would say (the first year) opened my eyes to the way our local government works. It made me understand more about the staff workloads that we have, and it made me understand more about how to advocate better."

In her first year Jewett was appointed to represent council with the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), the Whistler Community Services Society and the board of the Whistler Public Library, as well as serving on the Transportation Advisory Group and the Human Resources, May Long Weekend and Forest and Wildland Advisory committees.

Jewett has lived in Whistler since 1976 and boasts decades of volunteer experience, including as a founding member of AWARE, as chair of Communities That Care Whistler, as a WORCA ride guide, a docent at the Audain Art Museum and various roles on local and provincial Parent Advisory Councils (among other things).

She's also had a long career working as a professional ski patroller, and more recently in a supervisory role with Whistler Blackcomb's safety department.

In discussing her priorities if reelected, Jewett said it's not always the "what," but the "how."

"I hope that we can work on our governance processes," she said. "I'd like to see us be more—and this word comes up all the time—transparent. But I think that we (should) really go at it as a council and ensure that we look at best practices in other municipalities to ensure that we're as current as possible with our practices, and also with our public engagement."

Affordability is also a key issue for Jewett.

"Obviously housing is a big thing that we have to tackle, but having lived here for over 40 years, it's been an issue for a long time—I wrote a letter to the paper well over 20 years ago about this very issue," she said.

"What is going to become more of an issue is how we ensure that we have the people that support our community services supported with resident housing."

In terms of solutions, Jewett said there are some ideas, but they can't be rushed forward without proper consideration.

"We have to make sure that what we're doing is palatable to the community, because they have their own needs, and so it's very difficult to come up with a solution that's going to house everybody that needs housing in a way that is fair and equitable," she said.

"That's the thing I've really learned, is that when you look at a decision, it isn't just about the immediate beneficiaries, but making sure that the community is happy with the decision as a whole."

ARTHUR DE JONG

Like Jewett, Arthur De Jong has lived in Whistler for nearly four decades, starting out as a teenager with Blackcomb Ski Patrol and working his way up the ranks.

Over the years De Jong has held roles as patrol director and mountain operations manager, and currently serves as senior manager of mountain planning and environmental resource management with Whistler Blackcomb.

His current passion for sustainability stems from a significant fuel spill on Blackcomb Mountain in 1993.

"It changed my life, because I recognized that there was so many shortfalls in our stewardship," De Jong said.

Since then, De Jong has committed fully to making the mountain's operations sustainable, spearheading initiatives and programs that have collected more than 30 awards at the national and international levels for environmental and social performance.

Unsurprisingly, De Jong lists the environment as one of three main pillars in his campaign. It's a broad issue he views through the "five Ws:" water, weather, wildfire, wilderness and waste.

"We have to make sure that we have a reliable long-term supply of water. We saw some pressures this summer ... (and) the weather is changing here in terms of climate change, and we need to do more to drop our carbon footprint," he said.

But De Jong's greatest concern is wildfire.

"The greatest threat of catastrophe in this valley is wildfire," he said. "The community and the RMOW are doing a lot. We do need to do a lot more."

Another pillar of De Jong's campaign is the economy, and being an advocate for Whistler's businesses.

"I'm not an advocate of 'grow more.' I'm very much an advocate of how do we manage our present infrastructure in a way that the experience for everyone is better," he said, adding that the next council also has to be cognizant of the cyclical nature of Whistler's economy.

"Are we ready for that as well? And that's not to stop these growth issues. We need to get on them and improve our current situation, but with a very flexible platform where we recognize what we see today may not necessarily be the same tomorrow."

But the most important pillar of De Jong's campaign is a focus on community.

"Whistler would not be Whistler without the community, and now we're at a crossroads in terms of growth and affordability, and I feel that I can help resolve some of the challenges that we now see," he said.

Though all solutions are on the table, De Jong said he supports building more housing in Cheakamus, working to support infill in certain areas, rezoning opportunities where applicable, and more.

"But also, I do not want to tag the community with debt, and it's hard to make the numbers work financially, so how do we do that?" he said.

De Jong had initially thrown his name in the ring for the 2014 election, before dropping out after Whistler Blackcomb's internal counsel indicated potential conflicts of interests with respect to his knowledge of internal information.

But new employer Vail Resorts has given De Jong the go ahead to run.

"I am not here in this role to represent Vail (Resorts). I'm here to represent the community," he said.

"I'm really eyeing certain candidates and hoping that I have the privilege to serve with them, because we need a team, we need a high level of cohesion and common vision or we don't get the job done."

Find more at www.artdejong.com.

The new candidates join longtime staple of the volunteer community Gord Annand, WRM strata operations manager Brian Reid, retired BC Ferries captain Janice Lloyd, former councillor Ralph Forsyth, retired schoolteacher Dawn Titus and incumbent Jen Ford in the race for a council seat.

Incumbent councillor Jack Crompton will run for mayor. As of Pique's deadline, no one else had submitted nomination papers to run for mayor.

The nomination period ends Friday, Sept. 14. Those interested in running can find more info at www.elections.bc.ca.

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