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Pemberton election drawing few candidates

Robert Szachury, Ted Craddock only candidates to file papers for election



Pemberton will have an all candidates meeting on October 26, but it's a mystery right now whether it will have enough people to lead the town at the council table.

While communities like Whistler and Squamish have seen candidates emerge, at Pique's deadline only two confirmed candidates for Pemberton council had filed their papers. Even Jordan Sturdy, the incumbent mayor who has committed to run again, hadn't filed his papers by press time.

One of those who has filed is Robert Szachury, the owner of Turbo Plumbing, a company that works out of Pemberton and Whistler. A Pemberton resident for 20 years, he wants to see more recreational amenities in the valley and thinks the community needs more development in order to make it happen.

"Recreation is obviously key," he said. "Since I've moved here, people have talked about a swimming pool and ice rink. I don't know if the town can afford that, but certainly, without development, it won't be able to afford that.

"If you allow development, then you get the money from the development, you're allowed to build more. It just keeps going, so smart development has to be the way to go and there isn't much development in Pemberton."

Asked why few people have decided to throw their hats in the race, Szachury said that people have expressed concern that they see a stagnant political process at the council table.

"People feel frustrated, for sure," he said. "People say to me, are you sure you want this headache?

"You need to be part of the process. Everyone complains about it but no one's willing to do anything."

The other candidate who has filed his papers for council is Ted Craddock, who in recent weeks toyed with the idea of running for mayor, but he ultimately decided to go for council because he believes it needs a strong voice. Pat MacKenzie, his wife, has also filed papers to run for school trustee for the Village of Pemberton.

Mark Blundell, a former Village councillor, said it is possible that people are not declaring because Pemberton is a relatively young community.

"A lot of these people are working families," he said. "It's probably a time essence more than anything. You know, this politics is not always as attractive as it could be in a small community. You're ...  front and centre in everyone's faces; you're bumping into people all the time. If they've got issues, you've got to deal with them."

Sheena Fraser, the manager of administrative services with the Village of Pemberton, said if not enough people run for council, the municipality must hold another general election within 30 days of the people elected sitting for their first meeting.

If that fails, then the minister of community development has to appoint people to the council. In that case, the person appointed must reside in the municipality or electoral area for which they're chosen - and as it stands, Village of Pemberton council has four people serving who don't live in the Village.

Incumbent Mayor Jordan Sturdy is a resident of Area C of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District, as are councillors Al LeBlanc and Susie Gimse. Councillor Lisa Ames moved to the District of Squamish in the midst of her term.

In other races, Rebecca Barley will be running again to represent Area C on the board of the Sea to Sky School District, while Debra Demare is running to represent Area A on the board of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District and Mickey Macri is running again to represent Area B.

Gimse previously confirmed that she will be running to represent Area C of the SLRD and will not run again for Pemberton council.