Squamish mayor, four councillors seek re-election 

All five candidates to run under Squamish New Directions banner

Five members of Squamish council are running again in November’s municipal elections and all will be campaigning under one political banner.

With four months to go until the elections, the five officially declared their intentions to seek re-election last week under the Squamish New Directions organization, including Mayor Ian Sutherland.

"I decided to run again because first of all, I’ve enjoyed it," said Sutherland last week. "Secondly, I think we’ve accomplished quite a bit in the last two and a half years and there’s a lot more that we want to accomplish and a lot more that can happen going forward.

"And I think the bottom line is, it’s a very exciting time in Squamish right now and it’s very exciting to be a part of it."

Just as they did in the 2002 election, Councillors Dave Fenn, Sonja Lebans, and Ray Peters will run in the SND group. This election however, Councillor Jeff Dawson will join their group.

"I like the fact that we all share the same progressive vision for the big picture, but can still disagree and vote differently on the issues that come before us," said Dawson.

The five declared their intentions to seek re-election in a press release last week.

"It’s just to let people know that we’re getting ready for November and that the five of us are going to run as a group and see what happens," said Sutherland.

"We just want to be very upfront… (and say five) are coming together that share the same views, the same overall goals and objectives. And certainly we will disagree from time to time and we will vote differently and we proved that in the last three years.

"But more than anything else, we just want to be known as a group that has the same vision, the same ideas and also truthfully we wanted to make sure that if we were to get elected, we want to get elected as a group so we can accomplish what we want to accomplish."

But the large group, or slate, is something that has the two remaining members of council concerned.

Neither Councillors Corinne Lonsdale nor Raj Kahlon has announced their intentions to run again yet but they are worried about the SND block.

"When you’re part of a slate you are less inclined to look at the various issues from your own perspective, using your own conscience and doing your own homework and making that independent decision," said Lonsdale. "I don’t think that happens very well with a slate."

She added that the SND group has voted as a block on most of the major issues and though she supported them on many of those votes, she still said group politics is a detriment to council.

"I guess I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable if I truly believed, if I truly believed, that there was independent thinking going on amongst the councillors," added Lonsdale, a former mayor of Squamish.

Kahlon, who said if he runs it will be as an independent, shares some of Lonsdale’s views.

"When there’s that much majority (in a block), it’s not effective democra(cy)," he said.

He encouraged those who have concerns about the slate to run for office.

"If they’re not going to run, they have no right to complain later," he said.

Sutherland, however, said there were times in the past two and half years where the SND group did not vote as a block.

"Probably the biggest issue with (slate politics) is people having the feeling sometimes that you’re always going to vote as one block," he said. "But I think we dispelled that in the last two and a half years."

As part of the accomplishments of this council, which were part of the SND vision, Sutherland sites progress on the Oceanfront lands, diversifying the economy, starting work on the downtown and creating a city hall friendlier to developers and investors.

"I think basically we’ve started a lot of things, we’ve completed a few things and now there are other things we want to complete and other things we want to start in the new mandate," said the mayor.

Lonsdale and Kahlon said this week they would not make their decision public on whether they will run again or not until September.

No candidates in Whistler have officially declared their intentions to run for office. Like Squamish, nomination papers will be ready at municipal hall by Aug. 31. The nomination period lasts from 9 a.m. Oct. 4 until 4 p.m. Oct. 14.

The municipal elections will take place across B.C. on Saturday, Nov. 19.

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