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Pemberton residents elect new council

One incumbent and three first-time councillors voted in

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Village of Pemberton (VOP) council will have three first-time councillors for the next four-year term, as only one of its four newly elected councillors has previously held office.

"This is going to be a steep learning curve for me," said Ryan Zant, who received 324 votes in the Oct. 20 municipal election.

"All I can say is I'll work hard and do my best."

Zant will be joined by incumbent Ted Craddock (who received 418 votes), Amica Antonelli (388 votes), and Leah Noble (328 votes) at the council table.

Like Zant, this is the first time Noble and Antonelli have been elected to office.

A total of 524 votes were cast in the Oct. 20 vote—about 30 per cent of eligible voters.

Pemberton did not select a mayor in this election, as incumbent VOP Mayor Mike Richman faced no opposition and was acclaimed in the position.

Zant has been encouraged by offers of support from Craddock and outgoing VOP councillors.

"I think Ted (Craddock) and our current mayor will be the key to bringing the team together because of their experience," said Zant, who works as an aircraft maintenance engineer for Blackcomb Helicopters.

Going into the next four years, Zant said increasing affordable-housing options is top of mind.

"As much as I'd like to see something happen right away, I think it's going to be a long process," he said.

"I want to keep (affordable housing) on the forefront of my mind, so we can try to accomplish something within this term."

Noble feels that VOP's new set of councillors share a similar set of goals.

"I think we can get a really good working team (going)," said Noble, who has lived in the Pemberton area for over 35 years and works as a landscaper and small-scale farmer.

"Really, you're nothing if you're not a good team."

Noble's looking forward to advancing housing, transportation, and new amenities.

"I'm really looking forward to learning some new things and seeing what we can do for Pemberton," she said.

Antonelli, who holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Design and currently works as a planner for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, said she is grateful for the support of the community.

"I'm looking forward to attending some of the early meetings ... and moving forward some of the initiatives that are already going on now, such as the downtown enhancement (project)," she said.

"I think it will be a great team. It's people that really care about the community."

Craddock also expressed gratitude to the community for electing him to council.

"I can't thank the community enough for their support for the fourth time," said Craddock.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to work and continuing the work that council elected us to do."

When asked about the new councillors, Craddock said he is excited to work with them.

"It's always going to be a challenge bringing people up to speed with what's going on," said Craddock.

"But I think we're going to have a solid council. This is about coming together and working together to make it work."

Mayor Richman echoed Craddock's comments.

"It's great to have new blood," he said. "I think they're going to bring new ideas and new approaches."

Richman believes the new batch of councillors is ready to work cooperatively—something he feels is critical to municipal politics.

"From what I see, there are no really strong agendas," said Richman.

"These people are coming in with open minds ... and that's the key to municipal government."

Richman noted there will be a couple of key days of training in early November that will help bring the newly elected councillors up to speed on the ins and outs of municipal government.

"When you look at a town like ours, we're not career politicians for the most part, so people aren't familiar with the processes—whether it's Robert's Rules (Of Order) or how communication works between council and mayor, and to staff."

Richman explained there are "layers and history to everything" when it comes to decision making.

"(On) some items, they'll have to come up to speed very quickly," said Richman.

In addition to electing its councillors, Pemberton also elected Michelle Butler as its new school trustee. Butler is a mother of two whose children attend Signal Hill Elementary.

She received 349 votes, beating out her sole competitor, Nicole Sugden, who received 112.

For the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD), the school trustees acclaimed into office are Rebecca Barley for Area C and Celeste Bickford for Area D.

Incumbent SLRD directors Russell Mack and Tony Rainbow were elected by acclamation to represent Area C and Area D, respectively.

Vivian Birch-Jones was elected by acclamation as the Electoral Area B director.

The race to represent Area A featured three candidates and was won by John Courchesne, who received 67 of a total of 118 votes cast.

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