With just days to go before the municipal election, three current Pemberton councillors are throwing their weight behind candidate Susie Gimse.
Councillors Mark Blundell, Jennie Helmer and Kirsten McLeod have all publicly endorsed Gimse, who, if elected Saturday, will serve as both a village councillor and director for Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
In an election flyer distributed at last Thursday’s Pemberton all-candidates meeting, Blundell writes that Gimse is “of good respectable character” and that she is dedicated to the Pemberton Area “as a whole.”
“She has no hidden agenda,” he said in an interview. “She has a lot of contacts with provincial and federal politicians that will help our community in the long run. And the experience goes without saying.”
McLeod said much the same thing in the flyer — she praised Gimse’s contacts with government officials and said she would stand up for what’s best for Pemberton as a whole.
Helmer, meanwhile, said that “important and strategic directives can be better accomplished” if Gimse is elected as a councillor. Helmer, did not return a request for comment.
The trio of Blundell, Helmer and McLeod are not seeking re-election. And with the fourth incumbent councillor, David Mackenzie, challenging Jordan Sturdy for the mayor’s job, Pemberton will elect four new councillors.
Gimse has served as director of Area C since 1993 and has been acclaimed to that seat in this election. She was also president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities from 2007 to 2008.
She’s running on a platform of preserving Pemberton’s rural character, responsible management of tax dollars and serving as a bridge between the Village of Pemberton and residents of Area C, which lies outside the village boundaries.
Blundell also offered endorsements for two other council candidates — Ted Craddock, who previously served on councils in Squamish and Fort Nelson, and Lisa Ames, a prominent Pemberton realtor.
“There isn’t a lot of experience that’s running, other than Susie and Ted,” Blundell said in an interview. “Ted will be a sort of policeman who will make sure everything is followed by protocol and properly for the Village of Pemberton and the region, that it’ll be in the best interests of the community as a whole.”
McLeod is also endorsing Craddock. They worked together while both sat on the village’s Advisory Land Use Committee.
“Being a new councillor, I know how challenging it is to get used to the process,” she said. “I think they will be a good addition to the team, I think (Gimse and Craddock) support Pemberton and its future, so mostly for their experience and their professionalism.”
Throughout the campaign, Craddock has touted his experience on various councils as a reason why people should vote for him. He served on council for the District of Squamish for five years and on Fort Nelson’s for three years. He’s also spent three years as a director for Fort Nelson’s regional district and four years on its school board.
Now retired, he was a realtor and developer for 20 years. If elected his priorities will be to revisit the Village’s Official Community Plan and increase housing for employees and seniors.
Ames, meanwhile, gets Blundell’s vote of confidence because she’s a “great volunteer.”
“I think Lisa’s been a person of good character,” he said. “She also has done a lot in the community, forthwith her involvement in other organizations. She was involved in Rotary, she was involved in Child Care Centre, and a number of other organizations.”
Neither councillor would offer an endorsement for mayor. Blundell cited his position as a businessman in Pemberton’s downtown core (he’s the owner of the Pemberton Valley Supermarket) and said he may have to work with either one in future.
McLeod, meanwhile, said she’s worked with both mayoral candidates and would “rather not comment” on which one she supports.
Other candidates for Pemberton council are Alan LeBlanc, Cam McIvor and Peter Pocklington.