Remembering to laugh in serious local times

Researchers have estimated that for every year a man serves as the president of the U.S. he ages two. The crushing pressure and stress of the job take a physical toll, accelerating the aging process.

While serving as a politician in the resort town of Whistler can't be anywhere near as demanding as running one of the world's most powerful countries, it's interesting to contemplate what our local elected leaders face in the job. We're not the first to say being mayor or a councillor appears to be a lot of responsibility and pressure for not a lot of credit, pay or popularity around town.

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That's why it's still surprising that so many people have come forward to "apply" for a spot on Whistler Council. And it was clear at Tuesday's (Oct. 25) all-candidates meeting hosted by WORCA that the pressure of the campaign is starting to take its toll on some.

It has been interesting to watch how various candidates have handled the added stress of having their nomination papers challenged in court (as well as the finger-pointing that ensued), and to see how candidates are engaging with voters on social media platforms such as Facebook. Though the role of councillor in Whistler is said to be a part-time job, the campaign period appears to be full time and then some.

It takes courage to step forward into the public spotlight -a reality that bears reminding as voters ask tough questions and challenge candidates during the campaign.

It's not an easy time in Whistler to take public office, as there are some big and complex problems to be faced and decisions to be made at municipal hall. While us everyday residents see from the outside that there must be lots of fat to trim from the muni budget, a dedicated consultant could only find $1.2 million in savings after spending months on a service review.

(A side note on the topic of the service review to follow up on last week's editorial rant, a municipal spokesperson confirmed this week that $1.2 million in savings will be achieved in the 2012 budget despite the indication that some staff reductions will be made through attrition. As well, the municipality's middle and upper management positions are also slated for review, but not until next year.)

The service review and muni budget are just scraping the surface of the pressing issues. Various legal battles, the municipality's role in helping to increase tourism, the arts and culture strategy, a university proposal and many other topics will be on the work plan for the next council.

It seems to be a serious and heavy time in Whistler in general these days. In addition to the campaign mud slinging and rumours, plus recent news of local businesses going under, Whistlerites are mourning the loss of Jeanie - arguably our most beloved black bear. Our hearts have been heavy at The Question as we reflect on Jeanie's legacy and the role we as residents all played in her demise.

But there's only so much doom and gloom people can take in one week, month or season. Yes, this is a serious and important time in Whistler and we all need to be engaged and get informed to make the best choices on Nov. 19 - but perhaps we could all use a bit of frivolity and levity right about now.

So here's a reminder to stop taking ourselves so seriously for a few hours or a day. Find something to laugh about and indulge in a really good giggle session. Splurge on a dinner out or a nice bottle of wine and take time to enjoy life, remembering all the amazing things about living in Whistler. Or if money's tight, indulge in a long afternoon nap, a living room dance party or some other personal "treat." Take time to appreciate the important people in your life and reconnect.

When all is said and done we have much to be grateful for and tons to celebrate. Here's to living in one of the best places on Earth and being part of the world's most privileged.

- Jennifer Miller

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