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In the starting gate…

Today (Friday, Oct. 14) is a big day if you're into local politics and we are.

Today (Friday, Oct. 14) is a big day if you're into local politics and we are. It's the day we find out definitively who is running for mayor of Squamish, the six seats on municipal council, Electoral Area D's one seat on the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board, Squamish's two seats on the School District 48 board of trustees and Area D's one seat on the same board.

Of course, only those who've been away or in some sort of self-imposed, media-devoid bubble could have missed the candidate declarations over the past few weeks. As of Thursday (Oct. 13), by our count, Squamish had two candidates for mayor and 17 for council, and there were four people hoping to secure our area's three seats on the seven-seat school board. No one had yet stepped forward for the chance to represent Area D including Britannia Beach, Furry Creek, the upper Squamish and Paradise valleys, Ring Creek and Pinecrest/Black Tusk on the SLRD board. John Turner, who has represented Area D quite capably for the past nine years, is not seeing re-election, so whatever happens, there'll be a new face in the chair after Nov. 19.

We fully expect Terrill Patterson to be somewhere in the mix perhaps running for more than one seat to ensure that democracy is served, that voters have options and that no one wins by acclamation. Good on him for that.

By this afternoon, we'll know who's on the final list of candidates and the campaign will officially begin. But really, it began weeks ago, and it's not too early to make some observations.

In just the past six days, the entry of Auli Parviainen has injected life into the Squamish mayoral race. She and others have launched an online election discussion forum, As many are well aware, local elections are often dominated by those regarded as having "paid their dues" through long-term residency, involvement in civic affairs and even previous experience on council. There's little question that if Parviainen and incumbent Coun. Rob Kirkham wind up as the only two seeking the mayor's chair, Kirkham has a head start in terms of local experience over Parviainen, who has lived here only two years. However, most council observers would probably agree that over the past three years, Kirkham has been among the least likely members of council to speak up and take sides. That's not necessarily to his detriment some very effective mayors, after all, are coalition builders who listen to all sides before taking a position.

(Correction: After this editorial went to press, we were informed that while Auli Parviainen started the Squamish Speaks Facebook group, she had no involvement in the creation of the Squamish Speaks website, which was created and is maintained as an impartial forum by local resident Johnny Stork. Our apologies for the error.)

Having someone like Parviainen a newcomer who appears to have a real appetite for discussing and debating in the race is likely to help ensure that this campaign is not just about previous service and accomplishments, but also about issues and ideas.

To borrow an expression from Martha Stewart, that's a good thing whether you're "into" municipal politics or not.

David Burke

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