By Jesse Ferreras and Andrew Mitchell
Whistler's ballot sheet for mayor and council in the upcoming election just got a little more crowded.
This week saw local lawyer and columnist Nancy Wilhelm-Morden declare for the mayor's position and designer and drafter Richard Diamond throw his hat into the ring for council.
"Whistler's at an interesting crossroads and I believe that I do have the skills to help," said Wilhelm-Morden at a press conference to announce her candidacy officially this week.
Wilhelm-Morden has emphasized experience as part of her campaign. She has served four terms on Whistler council, first in 1984, then again on councils starting in 1988, 1996 and 2005.
While she said that the current council has had "ups and downs" in its three-year term, Wilhelm-Morden said she disagrees with some actions lawmakers have taken when it comes to "fiscal responsibility."
"Twenty-two per cent tax increases, for starters," she said when asked to elaborate. "The budgeting process needs improvement. There needs to be fiscal accountability. There's no reporting back on the performance of the $77 million budget after it's passed. That's just the beginning."
Since her last term on council, Wilhelm-Morden has written a column for the Question newspaper that has been critical of decisions taken at the municipal level.
One in particular has been the ongoing issue of an asphalt plant located close to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, which served as the Athletes' Village during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Some months ago, four members of council voted at an in-camera meeting to issue a cease-and-desist order against the plant, which is operated by Alpine Paving (1978) Ltd, and which both the resort municipality and its lawyers maintain above loud objections has a right to operate there. A judge is expected to rule on its ability to operate sometime in November.
Asked whether she would have issued the order were she on the current council, she said, "Absolutely. I would have done that a year and a half before council did it."
If Wilhelm-Morden were elected mayor, she would be tasked with acting as spokesperson for a community in which she has repeatedly represented clients who have brought lawsuits against some major organizations operating here.
In 2009 she represented clients who brought a lawsuit against Intrawest and Doppelmayr over an Excalibur Gondola accident that trapped their children inside one of its cabins. In 2010 she represented a client who sued the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association for negligence when she was injured during a Toonie Ride.
And later in 2010, she represented a client who brought a lawsuit against the resort municipality after falling into a ditch in the Day Lots in 2008.
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