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Maxed Out

If you go into the woods Nov. 16

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If you go into the woods Nov. 16 th .

One beautiful autumn day, a busload of politicians was driving to a political rally along a lightly travelled country road. The bus driver, deep in retirement fantasies brought on by the bucolic scene rolling by, loses control and flips the bus into a ditch. Hearing the commotion, a farmer rushes over from a nearby house, assesses the situation, runs back, climbs into his D-9 Cat, lowers the blade and buries them all.

The next day, RCMP are at the farm questioning the man. "So you buried all the politicians?" asked the police officer.

"Yep," replied the farmer.

"Were they all dead?" asked the astonished cop.

"Some said they weren't," replied the farmer, taking a slow drag on his pipe. "But you know how politicians lie."

There's an election 'round the corner and it's time to make some tough choices. The choices seem tougher this year. The issues seem tougher this year. and more contentious. The candidates seem more diverse and more qualified.

Borrowing a page from the sustainability project, maybe the best starting point would be determining the Good Muni Councillor Criteria. I promise, no computer models to follow and I'll strive to limit the criteria to 50.

Actually, I'll limit it to three. First and foremost, we need councillors who are hard workers. This town was built by hustle and vision. The touted Whistler Experience mostly revolves around working your butt off. We can't afford to elect people who don't do their homework, don't read their materials before they come to meetings, don't come to meetings. There's too much work to do in the next three years.

Second, we need councillors who are going to bring a couple of good ideas to the table. Ideas that are burning inside them. Ideas that, while maybe not perfect, will nonetheless spark other ideas in the give and take of debate. It's a given that our councillors need to be good listeners. They need to be able to sift through ideas and winnow out the bad ones. But they also need to bring a few with them to get things going. No one's ever going to have the luxury of knowing all the good ideas and choosing the best. But one person with one good idea can unleash a landslide of action.

Third, good ideas and hard work aren't enough. We need councillors who can make things happen, partly by doing, partly by leading and partly by inspiring.

Curiously absent from that short list is continuity. That's because continuity isn't a criteria. It's a conclusion. Continuity is only important if you truly believe you are travelling the correct path. If you're lost in the woods and you decide to walk out and you just keep walking even though you don't recognize where you are or where you're going, you might vote for continuity. just keep walking. But if the landscape you find yourself in seems to be getting more and more foreign instead of familiar, maybe you're going the wrong direction and need to rethink your commitment to the path you're on. Continuity is the refuge of incumbents.

Three years ago, I thought we were on the right path. I endorsed four of the five incumbents. But the landscape is seeming curiouser and curiouser these days. I'm ready to try another path.

I'd like to bring Ken Melamed along. Ken's like a compass. He unerringly points one direction. Even though a compass only points one direction, you can always determine your direction of travel whether you go that way or not. Ken's the hardest working person on council. still. He's not afraid to stand alone, face the scorn of his colleagues and wrath of those who might want to travel a more expedient direction. He's earned our support.

I'd bring Dave Kirk along too. Dave doesn't point in one direction. Dave spins around the dial, sometimes at dizzying speeds. I'm never entirely sure which direction Dave's going to choose. That's because Dave isn't overburdened with dogma. He approaches dogma when the issue involves small business but otherwise he's a free agent. He considers issues carefully, weighs them against the community's history and its desires for the future and votes his conscience. Maybe it's the teacher in him.

Caroline Lamont's invited on this trip. Caroline's the future of Whistler. She's the young family who doesn't want to leave town, the hard worker who wants to make this place better, the thoughtful academic with a few good ideas and the curious traveller who undertakes a study of something just because she wants to know more about it.

Marianne Wade gets an invite. I wasn't prepared to like Marianne. I was suspicious of her development history. It's not like developers need more portals to the halls of power. But Marianne's development teeth were cut in social housing and that's a hard experience to ever purge from a person's soul. She seems bright, methodical, brings a strong planning discipline with her and, more importantly, a record of accomplishment.

That's it.

Those are the four council candidates I'm excited about. There's a bunch right behind them I wouldn't mind seeing in the other two seats but if I were voting - my excuse is citizenship, not apathy - I'd probably only cast four votes. It's called voting strategically. Vote for the number of candidates you feel strongly about. Voting for six just because you have six votes only dilutes the numbers and throws further momentum behind the incumbents. Think about it.

Oh, I almost forgot. Da mayor. I know Mayor O'Reilly by his actions. I only know his opponent by his words and the rambling personal grilling I gave him. I know Hugh's an honest man who cares a great deal about Whistler. I know he works hard and I know he's enjoyed particular success in building bridges to neighbouring communities, including Mt. Currie for a change.

But I've found myself increasingly on the opposite side of key issues the past three years. His unwillingness to understand the orneriness of this community and placate the Olympic naysayers by at least letting them express their concerns in a free plebiscite endangers rather than helps the bid. His attempt to bring the WEF issue to a vote in council without embracing the larger community is unfathomable. His position on other issues remains a mystery.

Having said that, if you are truly comfortable following the path we've been travelling the past three years, Hugh's your guy. I'm ready to strike out on another road though so I'm inviting Dave Davenport along for the trip.

But Dave. I'll be watching. Very, very closely.

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