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Ron Bahm, Rob Kirkham and Auli Parviainen keen for mayor's office

Candidates come with diverse plans, experiences and skills



Pique, Nov. 10, 2011

Three people want Squamish's top political job and Squamish residents have three very different candidates to choose from.

The applicants include a council incumbent prepared to retire from his banking career, an entrepreneurial newcomer transplanted from Whistler and a construction supervisor currently operating a vehicle repair service.

Recently, Pique caught up with all three candidates.

Ron Bahm works almost every day fixing vehicles at his shop located at the only gas station in Brackendale.

In Bahm's 14 years in Squamish, he has twice run for council. He ran for mayor in 2002 then gave politics another shot in 2008, mounting a bid for a councillor position in what he called a low-budget campaign.

This time around Bahm said he is appealing to the 6,000 people who didn't vote in the last election.

His low-budget campaign is targetting frustrated voters who agree that past councils have run the town into the ground.

"City hall isn't run by council anymore," said Bahm at a coffee shop across the street from his auto repair garage. "It is run by staff."

Current councillor Rob Kirkham, interviewed while curling with his wife Donna, has a different outlook.

He said he sees the community as one team that works together, and within the team he said there are the seven members of council, the municipal staff and the community.

Kirkham said he believes the voters are ultimately the people in charge.

"The mayor isn't the boss and neither is council," he said after watching his rock ease along the ice of the Howe Sound Curling Club, landing in the house.

He explained that he sees the council members as a group of trustees entrusted to provide community leadership. According to Kirkham, the current council has created greater teamwork and he wants to take that to the next level.

Auli Parviainen, the newcomer amongst the two long-time residents, also expressed a desire for greater teamwork, and she complained that the current council isn't sufficiently connected to the community.

"We've partly lost sight of what the mayor and council do," Parviainen told business owner Gregory Fischer during a recent swing through downtown to purchase some winter footwear.

According to Fischer, the fact that Parviainen has no political experience isn't a concern and he'd like the next mayor to attend more community events like Canada Day.

If elected, Parviainen told Fischer attending Squamish events and being highly visible are a priority.

Being visible didn't seem to be a problem the day Pique hooked up with her - in fact Parviainen ended up chatting to so many voters she didn't have time to buy her boots.