Voting day in the municipal byelection is almost here.
While a one-year, one-seat election might not drum up as much enthusiasm as a regular election, over 100 locals showed up at an all-candidates meeting last week to hear what each of the seven candidates would bring to the table if elected.
On top of that, locals have had a healthy appetite for information about each of the candidates — their experience, priorities and plans.
Both the number of candidates and level of interest in such a short term has been surprising — particularly compared to past full elections. One explanation for the intense interest is that Whistler currently has a lot of problems and people are motivated to get involved in an attempt to find solutions.
At the all-candidate meeting last Monday (Oct. 17), for example, nearly everyone running mentioned housing as the main issue facing the community. The Resort Municipality of Whistler has several initiatives on the way, but all will take time to make a dent in what has become a massive problem — one that is going to get worse this winter before it gets better.
While it’s doubtful that any one candidate is going to make a difference in the availability or price of housing, it’s possible they could bring some fresh ideas and a new perspective to the table.
But the best way to look at this byelection is as a test-run for a new councillor who —unless they have a horrendous one-year term — will likely run for a full term in the general municipal election next year.
On top of that, 12 months is a solid amount of time for the new councillor to learn what the job entails and how to do it well so they’re prepared to hit the ground running if re-elected in 2018. For those reasons, it’s worth the effort of learning about the seven candidates and casting a ballot on Oct. 28.
Many of the people at the all-candidates meeting argued that there was only one demographic in attendance: older, long-time locals who are active in the community.
Perhaps it’s because the stakes are lower or maybe younger people are busy working three jobs just to make enough to pay the rent.
Hopefully it’s not a sign of voter turnout and Whistlerites of all ages will head to the polls on Saturday to demonstrate they’re engaged in the community and interested in its future.