Maxed Out 

Thanks to all who serve... and let's get to work

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Well, it's crunch time. Depending on which mayoral candidate you follow or favour, this campaign's been an interesting six weeks or an endless three years. There's no reason to suspect the final 48 hours won't be frantic, especially with Friday evening's Rotary showdown.

Possibly even more than voting Saturday and staying awake for the results, the thing I'm looking forward to more than anything else is divorcing Facebook early Sunday morning. I used to think reality TV, the cult of celebrity and the quest for fame were the saddest manifestations of popular culture. I now understand the degree to which they pale compared to the time sink of Facebook. If it weren't more indicative of his digiphobia than choice, it would almost be a testament to councillor Thomson that he alone has steered clear.

On to business though. It's time to consider the mayoral race. Let's start with the easy part. I don't frequently find myself in agreement with former councillor Nick Davies but I share his sentiments expressed last week in Whistler's other paper: this is a two-horse race. Having worked in the inner circle of one of the other candidates and having found him wanting, I defer to Nick's dismissal of his faltered campaign.

I've been endorsing candidates since 1996. Had Bob Barnett started Pique earlier and brought me along from the beginning, I'd probably have done so in 1993. But we all have to start somewhere.

One thing has been constant since that first election: my unwavering support for Ken Melamed. Over the course of five elections, it's gone something like this.

"We need Ken Melamed on council. This time around, his input and understanding of the environmentally sensitive bits of Whistler is imperative. Many current Councillors, all developers and those who would spread a thin layer of asphalt from one end of the valley to the other, view Ken as a pain in the ass." Maxed Out, November 1996

"Three years ago, I thought we really needed Ken... on council. We still do. Ken will continue to bedevil the conscience of anyone who thinks they can slough their way through small points or bulldoze their way through the big issues." Maxed Out, November 1999

"I'd like to bring Ken Melamed along. Ken's like a compass. He unerringly points one direction. Even though a compass only points one direction, you can always determine your direction of travel whether you go that way or not. Ken's the hardest working person on council... still. He's not afraid to stand alone, face the scorn of his colleagues and wrath of those who might want to travel a more expedient direction. He's earned our support." Maxed Out, November 2002

"I believe Ken can become the leader we need. I know he's smart and I hope he'll have a lot of help from a strong council. Ken can learn leadership. So I'll go with Ken." Maxed Out, November 2005

"I have had some unkind things to say about Mayor Ken over the last three years. I am not unmindful of them nor do I retract any of them. He's made decisions I've been at odds with, needlessly provoked segments of the community and, at times, let the pressures of the job bring him to the edge of intolerance with the public.

"Having said that, his motives and vision cannot be faulted.  The decisions he's made have been in the best interests of moving the community forward...." Maxed Out, November 2008

But all good things must end. Sadly, I cannot endorse Ken in 2011.

It isn't because of pay parking. It isn't the stench hanging over the town because of the asphalt plant. Not the way municipal finances have been managed or even the abysmal level of communication between the RMOW and the folks who call Whistler home, second home or vacation playground.

Those issues are important. But they'll eventually be resolved. They'll be replaced by issues we can't see coming and some we know are lurking around the corner. The next set of issues will be just as contentious and potentially just as divisive. The only way we'll successfully tackle them is as a community. The only way we're going to re-establish that community is to begin to heal the riffs that have been widened to the point of breaking over the past few years.

That is the more pressing issue in this election.

Those divisions aren't Ken's fault alone, maybe not his fault at all. Fault's not really the issue here though. At least it's not my issue. Healing is my issue and I don't believe it is an issue Ken can successfully tackle with the baggage he's carrying from the past few years. Sometimes a well is so poisoned you simply have to dig another well.

Nancy may not be able to heal those divisions either. They may be indicative of the dissolution of our common vision. But I think she probably can and more importantly, I believe it's time to give someone else a crack at trying. Hazel McCallion notwithstanding, local politics - particularly in a small town - shouldn't be a career. Get in; do your best; get out.

Nancy's run a positive campaign and created an aspirational platform. Do I think she can deliver on all her 10 points? No. Do I think she'll try? I think she'll bust her butt trying. There's nothing she hates more than failing at something she's set her sights on accomplishing.

As a lawyer, a councillor and a candidate, she's been articulate, bright, fast on her feet and focused. As mayor, I'm certain she'll be all of those things and, like past mayors, including Ken, she'll probably surprise those who, for whatever reason, don't think she's up to the job.

I often find myself describing this place as a bubble. It's active when so much of North America is sedentary. Its residents are fit, educated, motivated and engaged. I suspect we can wrestle most of our problems to the ground if we all get on the same side instead of playing tug-of-war.

But as much of a bubble as Whistler is, we don't live in one. There are serious threats to the very frivolous nature of this town. We are a luxury in a time of diminished luxury and there will be issues facing us that'll make the smell of asphalt seem sweet.

Regardless of who wins this election we're going to need to come together if we're going to stay together. So thanks to those who've served and will be looking for something else to do. Thanks to those who've run. And best wishes to those who win.

Let's get to work.

 

 

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