The Road to Redemption 

At the one year anniversary council reflects on the path so far

click to enlarge PHOTO: JOERN ROHDE/JOERNROHDE.COM - Council members recently gathered as part of a community award celebration

From the leaders of nations to the mayors of small towns, politicians everywhere are tarred with the same brush. We tend to distrust them off the bat and insist that they prove themselves to us — show us that you're looking out for our best interests, convince us that you're putting the community first, assure us that you're not just another... politician. Whistler's politicians are no exception. And so, one year ago when they took office, despite the overwhelming victory, council had its work cut out for it. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden reflects on the last year.

Someone has broken ranks at the council table.

It's not clear who went "rogue" in the closed door session and what topic prompted him, or her, to vote against the majority.

But two weeks ago at the last in-camera council meeting someone, who will remain anonymous, ended the yearlong all-for-one streak by raising a lone hand in opposition of the majority vote.

It was a 6 to 1 vote, the first of its kind.

"We've been making fun of that person ever since," jokes Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, at home in her municipal office, which has become a sanctuary of sorts, a place where she "feels good" the minute she steps in the doors.

What was the juicy topic of the day that finally forced one over the edge, to the dark side of opposition? We'll never know.

Finally, however, a little shake-up, a little verve, and a show of spark.

Cracks at the council table? Hardly.

Councillors becoming more comfortable in their job? Perhaps.

Or, a simple matter of time; someone had to break the streak at some point. Better behind closed doors than a public split vote.

Reflecting on the last whirlwind year in office at the one-year mark, the mayor agrees that it's strange that there has been unanimous agreement on every decision from asphalt plant litigation and pay parking to Ironman bidding and balancing a $70 million plus budget.

"It is odd," she says. "It's outside of my experience. This is my fifth term on council and I've never seen this before."

The memories of her past terms are dotted all over her office — official pictures of past councils, framed front-page newspapers of significant milestones. They serve, perhaps, as reminder — that the world of politics, small town politics no less, is a fickle business. Add in a bad snow year and a downturn in the economy and council, once flavour of the day, can quickly become a lightning rod for all of the town's woes. Nancy knows.

So what accounts for the united front on this council on all matters, big and small, controversial and mundane?

If they're not all on the same page on any given issue, they're somehow managing to reach consensus and find common ground in order to move on to the next chapter.

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