non group 

By Loreth Beswetherick Most Whistlerites on the voters’ roll will have received a notice in the mail advertising a series of open houses where voters can meet and talk to some of the new candidates for mayor and council. These notices are part of a campaign to oust most of the current councillors and the mayor. They have been sent out by volunteers who don’t really want to be seen or known as a group. One of the reasons the coalition of disgruntled property owners and residents wants to play low key is for fear the candidates they endorse will be branded as one-issue candidates. Council candidate John Richardson said the group is not "formal." "It’s just people who are unhappy with the way things are going and want to see change and fresh faces on council." The most common complaint is that the current council doesn’t heed the wishes of the community and that too many meetings are held behind closed doors. The intent was to form some sort of informal coalition among voters in the various subdivisions who feel they have been burned in some way by council decisions made over the last three years. Those disenchanted with the current council include a group from the Benchlands area unhappy with their burden of the Emerald Forest deal; Alpine Meadows residents still hurting over the 19 Mile Creek employee housing project; property owners upset with the Nesters Hill development; Emerald Estates residents worried about the financial implications of the sewer project and property owners angered by council’s handling of the nightly rental issue. Most vociferous of the group are David Wright and Bev Richardson, John Richardson’s wife. Wright and Bev Richardson have helped co-ordinate meetings between the residents of the subdivisions and, with a copy of the voters’ roll, mounted a telephone and mail campaign. Before the nomination window for council candidates opened Oct. 5, the ‘group’ got together to put forward a slate of candidates that would provide voters an alternative to the incumbents. They approached several people to run for council and mayor and promised campaign support. They said they would direct the vote of a large group of people. The only incumbent councillor not targeted is Stephanie Sloan. Once the nomination period for candidates closed, the ‘group’ invited all the newcomers to the political scene to a series of meetings. Not all attended. "They approached me as soon as my candidacy was made known," said council candidate Stephane Perron. "They were implying they were going to direct the vote of a large group of people." All the new candidates said they have been contacted by the group. Tyler Mosher said he attended part of one meeting and Scott Kittleson said the group tried to make him their "poster boy." The coalition also attempted, without success to get several of what they thought were the less promising council and mayoral candidates to withdraw from the race. Candidate Richard Laurencelle was asked to pull out. So were djtone, Chris Childs and Tanya Ewasiuk. "I was approached by a group of people who were initially going to be quite supportive and I guess they felt there were enough candidates that were supportive of their views and their cause who might stand a better chance," said Laurencelle. Wright said the group feared too many candidates would split the vote of residents unhappy with the incumbents. All the new candidates are invited to the open house series which will be held in homes in White Gold, Alpine, Whistler Cay and Blueberry. One of the meetings will be at candidate Casey Niewerth’s home and another at candidate Kim McKnight’s residence. No one seems to have a handle on how may votes the ‘group’ represents. They say they have substantial support from second home-owners in West Vancouver. Elections officer Brenda Sims said there are 1,093 non-resident electors on the voters’ roll this year. Including the 3,834 resident electors there are a total of 4,927 eligible to vote. Sims said, however, last election a further 1,200 registered on election day. If the same thing happens this year the number could be pushed over 6,000. The 1996 election saw a 63 per cent voter turnout compared to 47.2 per cent in 1993.

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