Cathy Jewett is Whistler’s newest municipal councillor following a landslide victory in Saturday’s (Oct. 28) byelection.
Jewett will serve out the final year in the current council’s term after receiving 799 of the 1,434 votes that were cast. Kate Roddick came second in the polls with 269 votes, while Dawn Titus followed with 201.
Upon hearing the news of her win Jewett said, “I felt honoured that that many people have that kind of faith in me. It makes me think about how many people are expecting me to be their voice.”
Many of those supporters were likely familiar with Jewett long before she officially threw her hat in the political ring. She attributes her overwhelming success at the polls to her track record in the community, rather than any ideas she’s voiced since joining the race in September.
“My campaign has been 40-years long,” she said. “The relationships that I’ve built and the work I’ve done didn’t happen over the last five or six weeks of the campaign, it took decades. I hope that that is what the electorate was looking at was my experience; my passion for the community.”
Since arriving in Whistler in 1976, Jewett has proven her commitment to the community through a long list of volunteer experiences, from serving as the current chair of Communities That Care Whistler and helping found the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) to volunteering as a WORCA ride guide and sitting on both local and provincial Parent Advisory Councils. That commitment hasn’t gone unrecognized, either: Jewett was named Citizen of the Year in 2016.
But with the election in Jewett’s rearview mirror, it’s now time for the new councillor to get better acquainted with the ins and outs of municipal politics. “Apparently there’s a reading list for me,” she said, with a laugh.
However, the seat Jewett was selected to fill wasn’t supposed to be up for grabs until next year’s general election. She’ll be taking the spot of Coun. Andree Janyk, who sadly lost her battle with cancer earlier this year. Jewett knew Janyk well from several different volunteer avenues in Whistler, including ski race courses. “I gave her a toboggan ride down the mountain when she broke her wrist,” Jewett, a former professional ski patroller, recalled. “But I’m not there to replace Andree. She is one-of-a-kind, and so I will use her spirit and think of her but I will use my own heart and mind.”
Jewett will no doubt be applying that mindset to the committee work that comes along with the title of councillor, something she sees as very important to informing council’s policies and decisions. “We’ll see where I’m assigned,” Jewett said. “Andree Janyk was someone who I’m sure carried her load and maybe even more, so I’m hoping to be able to get up to speed and be able to relieve some of the councillors, and learn more intimately through the committee meetings about details on important community areas of concern.”
One of those concerns frequently brought up by all candidates throughout the campaign is the concept of livability,” Jewett added. “The feeling I get in town is that we’ve done a great job at promoting the resort; we’ve done a great job at making this a great place for guests and now we’ve got to make it a great place to live.”
Rounding out the rest of the candidates on the ballot: Steve Andrews received 72 votes, Janice Lloyd earned 49 votes, Alon Rimon earned 25 and Kalee Eder finished with 19 votes. The total number of votes tallied on Saturday was just over 60 per cent of the 2,303 votes placed in 2014’s municipal election.
“I just want to thank the other candidates for running,” Jewett said. “We had four women running and three men, I think that shows that we’ve got a really balanced group of people by gender; even by age. There was also young people to people like myself who have been in the valley for a long time. That gives us a broad perspective of views, so that was great.”
Each of Jewett’s six opponents has “wonderful potential” for adding those views to the council table in next year’s general municipal election, she added.
But as to whether Jewett will run in the 2018 election herself? That’s yet to be seen.
“As long as everybody’s nice to me in the produce section,” she said, with a laugh.