After a term marked by uncertainty, Whistlerites went with familiarity on election day, Oct. 15, returning all five incumbents—Mayor Jack Crompton, councillors Cathy Jewett, Jen Ford, Arthur De Jong and Ralph Forsyth—along with two new faces, Jessie Morden and Jeff Murl.
Crompton gains a second term as Whistler’s top elected official, garnering 2,153 votes, compared to 712 for mayoral hopeful Marcus Culver and 259 for Brian Walker.
"I’m so excited to get to work with these people," Crompton said shortly after the results were announced at the Whistler Racket Club, where several of the candidates, both incumbents and newcomers, gathered on election night. "I think the final vote tally really demonstrates the community's confidence in these six people. They are thoughtful, hardworking and extremely connected to the community."
The incumbents led the way among council candidates in terms of votes, with Cathy Jewett earning the most, at 2,262, followed by Jen Ford (2,198 votes), Arthur De Jong (2,179 votes) and Ralph Forsyth (1,639 votes). First-time candidate Jessie Morden, the daughter of two-term Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, wasn't far behind Forsyth with 1,612 votes, earning her first seat in office, while Murl, who ran in 2018 and amassed ample experience over the past four years on numerous committees and boards, garnered 1,589, enough to grant him the sixth and final spot on Whistler's new council.
A wave of emotion came over Morden after the results were announced, who was flanked by her mother and other family members at the Racket Club. The first ever Whistler-born resident elected to municipal office, the 34-year-old positioned herself as a voice for the resort's young demographic in her campaign, a role she said she is proud to fill.
"I am just so overjoyed I made it. I'm at a loss for words and I can't wait to just do good for this community," she said. "People need a voice right now and I really do feel like I can connect with the younger generation. And I hope that people will receive me."
The 42-year-old Murl, who missed out on a council seat in 2018, placing eighth, brought a renewed confidence to his second campaign for councillor, bolstered by a wealth of experience he gained in the intervening four years, including serving on the board of Arts Whistler, working on the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s board of variance, becoming a library trustee, and joining the Whistler Community Foundation’s finance committee. Even still, the accountant recognizes there will be some learning on the job once he assumes office.
"I think there's definitely a learning curve no matter how much you prepare for this," Murl said. "I’ve always wanted to know what's going on [at municipal hall] and now I get to finally see it firsthand. So I’d like to take it take it slow in the beginning and just try to listen and absorb as much as I can, and find my voice when the time comes."
Among the candidates who missed out on a seat at council, Brendan Ladner earned 1,004 votes, followed by Dawn Titus (918 votes); Melinda Lopez (663 votes); Rhonda Millikin (628 votes); Curtis Lapadat (562 votes); Sarah Rush (465 votes); Tina Pashumati James (426 votes); Gordon Jeffrey (412 votes); and Gabriel Pliska (363 votes).
Voter turnout on an unseasonably warm Saturday was 34.98 per cent, up from 32 per cent in 2018 and 27 per cent in 2014, but still below Whistler’s record high of 55 per cent in the resort’s landmark 2011 election, still the only time Whistlerites cleaned slate with an entirely new mayor and council.
On the school trustee front, incumbents Cynthia Higgins and Rachael Lythe were both re-elected, with1,527 and 1,188 votes, respectively. Deb Bordignon finished just behind Lythe with 1,118 votes.
All results are preliminary, and will be confirmed on Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. at municipal hall
In Pemberton, Mayor Mike Richman was re-elected for a third term, taking 543 votes to David MacKenzie's 303 and Chadi Abouhalka's 34, along with councillors Jennie Helmer (748 votes), Katrina Nightingale (587), Ted Craddock (567) and Laura Ramsden (559). Check back with Pique for more on the 2022 municipal election.