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FOSTERING OPEN GOVERNMENT
The mayor says there is no collusion, no secret agendas, no politicking, no behind the scenes shenanigans like she's seen on past councils.
"Everybody seems to have put their egos aside and are just wanting to get business done," she says. "There's no politicking, that I can see. Maybe I'm just completely oblivious to it! But as far as I can see, there's none of that kind of maneuvering and 'you support me on this and I'll support you on that.' It's just 'let's get the job done.'"
Council heard loud and clear in the lead up to the election that the community wanted more openness and more transparency in its local government.
And they appear to have taken it to heart.
Though new policy, introduced by administrator Mike Furey before the election, still distances staff from the media (staff is only allowed to be interviewed for background briefings and is not allowed to be quoted), council has been putting policies in place to reach out to the community.
Committee of the Whole meetings have been re-introduced by this council — a more informal meeting time when community groups, or developers or staff can bring council up to date on projects, and council in turn can ask pointed questions. These meetings are open to the public and offer a rare insight into a relaxed council at work, comfortable in their own skin, asking pointed questions.
And the mayor is on a personal mission of returning every phone call.
Just last week, at the end of a five-day trial in Vancouver, Wilhelm-Morden was returning phone calls from the courthouse about concerns over off-leash dogs on her lunch break.
"People know that the door is open," she says.
She may not always be behind the door at the mayor's office, but she will return phone calls and emails.
That separation from the hall, a mayor who continues to work in the private sector, is something new for Whistler.
Wilhelm-Morden believes it's a good thing — it keeps her connected. She remembers after Mayor Ted Nebbeling's time in office (he was mayor from 1990 to 1996) a consultant recommending that the mayor's office and the administrator's office be physically moved apart in the Hall — again, that separation of council and staff.
"That's never happened," says the mayor. "And I don't feel the need for that to happen in my case. Maybe I'll live to regret that!"
Councillor Jack Crompton has been asking himself the same question about the appearance of rubber-stamping because the nature of the Tuesday council meeting is different from the ones he regularly observed from the bleachers in the last few terms.
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