Make your list, check it twice 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CLARE OGILVIE
  • Photo by Clare Ogilvie

Let me be clear—I believe that the best person should get the job.

While I clearly understand affirmative action, where possible the above statement should be the guide.

So, as we look at our council candidates, how does one decide what "best person" means in this situation?

Not surprisingly, this is not a simple question, because voters are not in fact choosing six single entities—any one of whom might be the best choice standing alone.

We are, in fact, choosing a team.

Voters must therefore look at all the qualifications, the community associations, the track records and the personalities—it would be a disaster to elect someone who does not play well with others, for example.

While having a strong knowledge of all the issues facing our town is a great asset, what is more important in the council seat (in no particular order) is: a strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity, a creative mindset to problem solving and an openness to listen, learn and act.

Added to this is the responsibility of the voter to think about the fact that council should be representative of who we are.

So, that includes things like: the fact that Whistler is home to almost the same number of men as women (tilted slightly to males according to the last Statistics Canada survey); our average age is 34.2; seniors make up seven per cent of our population (national average is 18.3 per cent); 80.4 per cent of us are working (aged 15-64) compared to a national average of 66.5 per cent; 13.7 per cent of households consist of people living together not as a family (provincial average on that is 4.7 per cent); 21.8 per cent of us are immigrants, and there was a 24-per-cent increase in the number of kids aged 0 to 14 from 2011 to 2016—that's a lot of families needing many services including daycare.

Of course, many more things define us beyond these statistics taken from the just-released Vital Signs Report by the Community Foundation of Whistler.

We are passionate about our natural surroundings and our sense of community, and these feelings are driving our fierce desire to see a balance between the tourism industry that supports most of us and a quality of life that makes the sacrifices most of make to call this home bearable.

Talking of representation and merit, let's look at gender for a minute—after all it is Women's History Month (see related Museum Musings story page 64) in Canada, which this year is tagged with #MakeAnImpact.

Whistler is fortunate to have some excellent leaders who happen to be women, and I would argue that (and plenty of research backs me on this) their gender has played a role in that success. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, a busy and successful trial lawyer has captained a tight municipal ship for 17 years; Arts Whistler is lead by a creative dynamo, Mo Douglas; Tourism Whistler, which has helped drive our visitation to over 3.5 million people annually is lead by Barrett Fisher, a measured, creative, leader whose focus and drive has made the organization what it is today and the list goes on like the thread of a tapestry through businesses (big and small), organizations, and government agencies.

Women are collaborative. They are, in general, team players and they are used to working hard (believe me, raising kids, running a home and working fulltime is not for the weak and these responsibilities still disproportionately fall on women).

A recent study of 51,418 leaders in the U.S. and internationally found women were considered more effective than male leaders. Zenger Folkman's survey data was published in the Harvard Business Review.

Folkman's research found that female leaders rank the highest in their ability to take initiative and drive results. In total, women scored higher than men in 13 out of the 16 leadership competencies.

Yet even today, only about one-quarter of elected officials in our country are women.

The World Economic Forum's 2017 global gender gap report estimates it will be 217 years before women achieve gender parity.

Earlier this month, Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, announced $3.8 million in funding for a 36-month project that will empower the next generation of women leaders, and increase women's participation in politics with a view to creating more gender-balanced governments.

A good start.

Here at home, it's time to make your list and prepare to elect our leaders for the next four years—choose wisely for now and for the future.


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