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A total of 17 vie for six council seats By Loreth Beswetherick By the Friday Oct. 15 nomination deadline a total of 17 candidates had entered the race for six Whistler council seats and three were vying for the mayoral role. There will, however, be no such race for the two school trustee positions. Only two have thrown their hats into that ring. Up for the run at mayor’s seat are incumbent Hugh O’Reilly, Chris Childs and Al Hurwitz. Childs is targeting Whistler’s young voters. He is campaigning for a more open government with fewer decisions made in camera or behind closed doors. "If nothing else, hopefully my campaign will involve young people and maybe they will learn more about the process of local government. I have been involved in politics since the age of 20," said Childs. "There is a whole group of people in Whistler who are not involved in the process. They do their jobs, go to the bars at night and nobody has made any effort to reach out to them. They have a voice too. They live here. They are paying taxes through their rent and they deserve a say in the way the community develops in the future." Childs, 30, rents in Emerald Estates and manages Death by Chocolate. Hurwitz is in his 60s. His campaign basics include:– consultation and co-operation rather than consultation, controllable growth consistent with the bed unit cap, resolving short-term rental issues, consideration of alternative affordable housing solutions within the community, free parking for locals, dealing with each neighbourhood issue with openness and making decisions based on an open door policy. Hurwitz -- a McGill graduate and ex IBM man born in Montreal -- divides his time between Whistler and Vancouver. He has a background in computer marketing and education. He has worked as loans and mortgage officer for CIBC, installed and taught companies how to use computerized accounting systems and offered small business bookkeeping, accounting and tax services. Hurwitz currently manages and operates Wildwood Lodge on the Blackcomb Benchlands. He is a member of Tourism Whistler and Tourism B.C., the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, treasurer of the Vancouver Executives Association, board member of the Arbutus Business Round Table and the Vancouver Board of Trade and the World Trade Centre, past treasurer of Swim B.C. and past director of the Vancouver Quilchena Liberal Association. The 17 candidates who officially filed notice of their intention to run for council are: djtone (alias Anthony Catton), Nicholas Davies, Tanya Ewasiuk, Scott Kittleson, Richard Laurencelle, Greg Lee, Kim McNight, Tyler Mosher, Casey Niewerth, Stéphane Perron, John Richardson, Richard Wyne and incumbents David Kirk, Ted Milner, Kristi Wells, Stephanie Sloan and Ken Melamed Late filers Ewasiuk, djtone, McKnight and Richardson all want a more open and accountable government. Although his nomenclature begs the question, djtone said his bid for a council seat is serious. He said is in tune -- not only with the beat at Merlin’s where he has worked as a DJ for the last four years -- but with the needs of a demographic group struggling to survive in a community they love. "I am their voice, the voice that is not heard very much by council," said Catton who showed up to make his heard at Monday night’s council meeting. "These people desire to live in Whistler for what it offers but they are being driven out because of high prices. Affordability is an issue all candidates should be looking at. I don’t care if I get elected or not as long as the right people get in and new faces are put there to do the changes that need to be done." Catton, who resided in Banff before coming to Whistler, said he would consider tax breaks for locals while hitting second homeowners with $6 million homes for higher taxes. "Those are the people who can afford a luxury tax." He said young voters don’t generally turn out to vote because they feel there is no one to represent them. "There are so many people out there who don’t think they can make a difference or know that they have the power to change things. I am hoping I can be their voice." Ewasiuk, manager of the Upper Village Market, said the current council does not represent a cross section of the population of Whistler. "I believe I need to speak for the population under 35 who have spent a great deal of time here getting a life together," said Ewasiuk. "I also have a real understanding of small business owners and small business. I am disturbed by the number of bankruptcies per year. It is very difficult to run a small business in this town. We need to see how we can make sure our infrastructure encourages that sort of thing." Ewasiuk said she is a "product of employee housing" and that resident housing is one of the reasons she has been able to make a go of things in Whistler. "Obviously I am pro employee housing." McKnight, however, said resident housing needs are not being addressed properly. "What they call affordable housing is not desirable. People want something of quality that has some resale value to it. Do they think we are stupid? We want something of quality that isn’t too crowded." McKnight, a 28-year-old ski coach and part-property owner, said she embodies the term "employee" which is more than any council incumbent can claim. She said most of her friends have put a lot into the community and want to stay. "A lot of them are at that point where they are considering things like marriage, settling down and investing in property." McKnight’s interest in civic politics was sparked by the Nester’s Hill employee housing development process. She spoke against the project but felt no one was listening. "People feel none of their concerns are being taken into consideration. They feel like things are a done deal before they even get a chance to have any input. I know from talking to people at 19 Mile Creek and the Benchlands – they all have similar frustrations." McKnight would also like to see the tourist accommodation issue resolved, "instead of just dismissed." Finding a fair costing solution to the Emerald sewer installation is on her agenda as well. Richardson, a Vancouver resident and Whistler property owner who has been coming to the resort for the last 31 years, also wants the nightly rental issue addressed. "Council basically stopped people who have owned property for over 25 years from casually renting to help pay their taxes which is becoming more and more of an important issue as taxes increase," said Richardson. "They tried to catch a few big fish with the chalet issue and they finished up catching a whole ocean full of little fish and that is going to create a lot of hardship for people." Richardson. a mechanical engineer and private business owner, said he knows people who now have to sell their properties. "Council seems totally oblivious to the anxiety this is causing in the community. They are putting the lid on younger people buying a house who may need to rent out a few rooms or a basement suite. I love Whistler very much and I can see it turning into a high-end community like Aspen. The people who will be able to afford the houses will be people who don’t need to work in the community. You are going to have rows of empty houses and the community is going to, house by house, slowly die." Richardson is also disappointed with the TAG transportation strategy. He said adding more blacktop is not a visionary solution. "It increases traffic. The last thing I want to do is go up to Whistler and say, hey, this smells just like downtown Vancouver. We have to take a hard look at that." Richardson said the current council is receding further and further into an ivory tower and is "totally unresponsive" to the community. He cites the 19 Mile housing project and Emerald Forest deal as examples. There is no such slate of candidates for the two School District 48 trustee seats, however. Incumbent Andrée Janyk and Alix Nicoll were the only two to put their names forward. They will likely be officially acclaimed by Monday, Oct. 25. Janyk had failed to file an election contribution and expense disclosure by the March 17 deadline in the 1996 election but she did file by April 17 and paid a $500 fine without which she would not have been eligible to run for office this time around. Richard Wyne did not file a disclosure by March 17, 1996 cut-off period either but was not available for comment. Deadline for challenging nominations was Tuesday, Oct. 19. Candidates have until 4 p.m. Friday Oct. 22 to withdraw from the race if they so choose. It is also the last chance to withdraw endorsement for a candidate. Advance voting will be held Nov. 10 with general voting day Nov. 20. By 4 p.m., four days later, official results will be declared and this will also be the first day to apply for a judicial recount. The last day for a judicial recount is Nov. 29.

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