It took first-time Whistler council candidate Tom Thomson a moment to absorb the fact that he was not only elected, but also earned the most votes of any candidate.
“Just to be included was overwhelming, but when I was told that I got the most votes of anyone I was a little incredulous,” he said. “If the folks of Whistler felt that way, then I am indebted and hope I can repay them.”
Thomson ran on a simple platform of giving back to the community that has given him so much over the last 40 years, and his own sense of civic duty — although you could argue that he’s paid his debt to the community many times over as one of its most prolific and visible volunteers.
For Thomson, the campaign was an opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing Whistler, including the shortage of employee rental housing and increasing budgetary pressures. He met with Marla Zucht at the Whistler Housing Authority, attended a Mature Action Committee meeting, and sat down with countless others to ask questions and learn more about the issues in the event he was elected.
“Most of all I learned from your own mistakes, when I said things I wish I hadn’t said, as well as how to be quiet and listen — I already know what I know, but listening is a good way to learn more,” he said.
Thomson was one of the few candidates to include a photo on his campaign signs, which was a conscious decision. Many people know him through his volunteer work, he said, but not everybody would be able to put a face to the name on a campaign sign.
“I’m a very ‘out there’ person, because I’m in love with the community and always wanted to give back. This (council) is a little different because volunteers are never held accountable, you can always say no, but I wanted to attempt something different and be accountable for it,” he said. “It’s still volunteerism.
“People would come up to me and say they were pulling for me, and that it was nice to see me stepping up. It was all predicated on that (volunteerism) — I have no council experience, no track record to run on, just my values… and what I thought I could bring.”
Ralph Forsyth – 1,612 votes
“It is really sweet,” said Ralph Forsyth, two days after being re-elected.
“Every win is good, but this one is particularly sweet, and my boys are old enough to understand everything now, so it was really important to me that they saw their father win.”