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“I think you’re right in the sense that when you have a
dysfunctional council it’s easier for, let’s call it the virus of pessimism, to
spread because it’s just one more thing for people to be pessimistic about,” he
“By having an efficient running municipal team and to continue
to talk about the need to remain optimistic, I think we’ve been successful in
turning that around. There was a lot of talk a year ago about how pessimistic
everybody was and you don’t hear that as much.”
Last term, from 2002 to 2005, was tough. The economy wasn’t
doing well and the outlook was grim. Former mayor Hugh O’Reilly was leading the
town from Hawaii, where he had relocated at the end of August.
By the election in November a three-year struggle at the council
table was finally coming to a head. Three of the six councillors were running
for the top job and former mayor Ted Nebbeling was in the race too.
Melamed knows the community took a gamble on him.
It was banking on the promise that he would change, would move
from his dependable positions — questioning further growth in the resort
and pushing the green agenda — to a more balanced approach. He promised
he would shift his focus and be more representative of the community as a
whole, if he was elected mayor.
Don’t doubt for minute he hasn’t felt the pressure of that
“The hardest part of adjusting to the job was understanding the
transition from one role to the other,” admits Melamed. “It’s a different way
of thinking, it’s a different mindset and even now I still have to remind
myself. I am getting better at it.”
One of his biggest lessons was to understand and accept
As Councillor Ken Melamed, entrenched in the “green seat” for
almost a decade, issues and decisions were more black and white. Today, as
mayor, there are a lot more shades of grey.
“You have to get better at compromise to be a mayor,” he says
candidly. “The world of politics and political decision making, it demands
compromise. There’s no other way.”
More importantly, he knew if he was going to lead this
community and make the tough decisions that were on the horizon, he needed the
help of his council. It was one of the key lessons he learned while on the last
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