The nomination papers are in and the cutoff to declare has come and gone, meaning it’s officially campaign season in the Sea to Sky.
With the nomination period for the upcoming municipal election ended Friday, Sept. 9 at 4 p.m., the corridor now has a full picture of the names that will be on the ballot when voters head to the polls on Oct. 15 (barring any dropouts before the Sept. 16 deadline, of course).
In Whistler, the resort will have its first mayoral race in nearly a decade, after incumbent Jack Crompton ran unopposed in 2018 and was elected by acclamation. Along with Crompton, environmentalist and chef Marcus Culver and recycling supervisor and former mayoral candidate Brian Walker will be vying for the resort’s top elected position.
For the resort’s last (slightly) competitive race for mayor, you’d have to go back to 2011, an historic election for the community, when voters, frustrated over Whistler’s sluggish post-Olympic economy and the introduction of pay parking to the day lots, wiped the entire slate clean, still the only time since Whistler incorporated that not a single incumbent was returned to office. That year was effectively a three-horse race between Ralph Forsyth, who earned roughly 13 per cent of the vote; incumbent Ken Melamed, who earned roughly 16 per cent of the vote; and Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who swept into office with nearly 68 per cent of the vote.
The frustration in the community at that time was evident by the number of candidates who declared for council as well—25 hopefuls bidding for just six seats. Whistlerites won’t have quite that many options to choose from next month, with 16 council hopefuls throwing their hat in the ring: Anthony Butt, Tina James, Gordon Jeffrey, Brendan Ladner, Curtis Lapadat, Melinda Lopez, Rhonda Millikin, Jessie Morden, Jeff Murl, Gabriel Pliska, Sarah Rush, and Dawn Titus, along with incumbents Arthur De Jong, Jen Ford, Ralph Forsyth, and Cathy Jewett.
Vying for Whistler’s two school trustee positions are incumbents Cynthia Higgins and Rachael Lythe, as well as Deb Bordignon.
In this century, Whistler has only cracked the 50-per-cent voter turnout mark twice: the aforementioned 2011 election, when 55 per cent of eligible voters took to the polls; and 2005, when 53 per cent did, no doubt bolstered by the resort having been awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics two years prior.
The low point for turnout came in 2014, with just 27 per cent of eligible voters casting a ballot, followed by 32 per cent
Up the highway in Pemberton, voters will see their first real mayoral race since 2008, when now-MLA Jordan Sturdy defeated former town councillor and current Pemberton Valley Lodge general manager David MacKenzie (who will be on the ballot again this year).
Incumbent Mayor Mike Richman, meanwhile, is facing his first real election campaign in 2022. Richman was elected by acclamation in 2018, and while Jerry Mohs’ name was also on the ballot in 2014, Mohs verbally withdrew from the race early in the campaign.
Rounding out the crop of 2022 mayoral candidates is longtime local businessowner Chadi Abouhalka, who will be seeking office for the first time.
Meanwhile, six council candidates will compete for four seats: Derek Graves, former councillor Jennie Helmer, Katrina Nightingale, Laura Ramsden and Eli Zysman, along with incumbent Ted Craddock.
Melissa Ronayne is the only candidate for Pemberton school trustee, and will therefore be acclaimed to the role.
In the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District it’s a serious case of déjà vu, as all four incumbent area directors are running unopposed.
Sal DeMare will be acclaimed as Area A director, Vivian Birch-Jones as Area B director, Russell Mack as Area C director, and Tony Rainbow as Area D director.
Rebecca Barley, Margo Vaughan and Meredith Garner are bidding for School District 48 electoral Area 4 trustee, while Celeste Bickford will be acclaimed as the sole candidate for trustee in School District 48’s electoral Area 5. No candidate has yet declared for School District 74 trustee in rural Area A.
How to vote this election season
For resident voters who did not register online with Elections BC by Aug. 16, 2022, they will need to register in person on General Voting Day on Oct. 15, or at one of the advance voting opportunities on either Oct. 5 or 8.
The polls are open in Whistler on Saturday, Oct. 15 for general voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Myrtle Philip Community School.
On the two advance voting days, polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library.
To vote as a resident, you must be 18 years of age or older on General Voting Day, a Canadian citizen, and resident of B.C. for at least six months immediately before the day of registration, a resident of the RMOW, and not be disqualified from voting by law.
For the first time in Whistler, all electors, whether resident or not, are eligible to vote by mail ballot. Anyone wishing to do so must submit an application to vote by mail to the RMOW no later than 4 p.m. on Oct. 12. Applications are available at the front desk of municipal hall during regular business hours, or online at whistler.ca.
The RMOW will begin sending out mail ballot packages on Sept. 29. To be counted, your mail ballot must be received by the Chief Election Officer no later than 8 p.m. on Oct. 15.
Advance voting in Pemberton takes place Saturday, Oct. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pemberton and District Community Centre.
The polls will be open on General Voting Day, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., also at the community centre.
For information on voting in the SLRD, visit slrd.bc.ca/inside-slrd/legislative-services/elections/voter-information.
In conjunction with Arts Whistler and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Pique Newsmagazine is hosting an all-candidates forum at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Pique will have profiles of all the remaining candidates yet to be covered leading up to election day on Oct. 15.