Council candidate: Eckhard Zeidler 

click to enlarge 1545zeidler.jpg

Age: 52 going on 32

Website. www.eckhardzeidler.ca

Occupation: Designer and neophyte dirt farmer

Last book read: Other than 700 page council packages? The End of Food by Paul Roberts

What music are you listening to these days? New Monsoon, Medeski Martin & Wood

Favourite recreational pursuits: Hiking, skiing and digging around in the dirt.

1. Why are you running for council?

Important unfinished business around budgets.

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

I cannot begin to identify the specific changes but I will describe the process: I will work to commence a public process starting with the 2009-2013 budget discussions that will include up to four months of public workshops starting in January of 2009. Certainly this will be an unusually challenging process what with people working to protect what matters the most to them and avoiding any cuts at all, but the option is to increase property taxes dramatically — and keep increasing them into the future. All of us, no matter how long we’ve been here, have built this town together. I believe if we work together to address the economic challenges we will succeed in producing a budget we can all live with, and that we can also create some fiscal flexibility instead of our current brittle reality. Council will have very hard choices to make by the end of April at the latest, but they will have been made with the benefit of exhaustive community input. Because of time constraints around 2010 we'll be doing two years of budgets this winter so it's extraordinarily important we get it right.

3. What other important issues does Whistler face in the next three years?

There are plenty of other issues, I won't be ignoring them but I will be devoting considerable effort to the budget and financial challenges coming our way courtesy of global recession. If we don't react to this NOW we'll have plenty of very difficult new challenges in three years that we may avoid by meeting them head-on now.

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

The people of Whistler need to vote for candidates that have some recognition of the challenges and have a grasp of what needs to be done. Candidates will need pretty thick skin this term — there is little chance we can get to where we "Live within our means..." without cuts to services and the like. There can be no sacred cows and all of it has to be on the table. As I'm so focused on the budget issue it's important that voters who are concerned about it and think that I may be able to make it a council priority still have to look at other candidates with a similar focus. You need four votes on council to make anything happen and if I end up there alone with my single vote and little support for making hard choices then we're not making any progress.

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