Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March. 6. (Westerly file photo)

Tofino councillor candidates identify differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new municipal councillors on March 6.

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new municipal councillors on March 6. In an effort to keep the community informed of their choices, the Westerly News has asked each candidate a question and published their answers in the newspapers leading up to the March 6 byelection. For this week’s final question, each candidate was asked, ‘What differentiates you from your fellow candidates?’ Responses were limited to a maximum of 300 words. Responses from the mayoralty candidates can be found here. The order the councillor candidates responses appear below was selected at random.

Zak Cross

Not knowing my fellow candidates I might take a different approach to this question and share my wishes for what we might all have in common.

My hope is that we are all passionate members of this community who want to contribute in a meaningful way to support this town to the best of our ability. I would love for all of us to be willing to go the extra mile and ensure that we consult with residents, always remembering that we represent the entire community not just the people like us. I would hope that we are compassionate, articulate, insightful, patient and team oriented. That we are effective with our time, handle stress well and have a good sense of humour.

I believe that having passionate members of council is the key to keeping Tofino a town that is community focused and now more than ever we need to be able to think outside the box, but not necessarily reinvent the wheel, to ensure we make policies that will serve this town well into the future.

Lindsay Whitefield

I believe my valuable qualities and my personal experiences as a tourism industry worker, small business partner, homeowner and parent really set me apart from my fellow candidates.

Firstly, my experience working within resort communities for over a decade, gives great perspective on the importance in balancing the expectations of our visitors and the needs of our residents. I want to continue engaging with the tourism community and local members to help bring the warm welcome back by providing solutions to better manage the feeling of tourism takeover.

Secondly, I understand the true struggles young families face when dealing with daycare and indoor recreational amenities for children of all ages and abilities. I feel that my efforts throughout the years by writing letters of concern to Council and asking the questions that some aren’t willing to speak up about, has really shown great persistence. I will continue to be an actively involved member with community and school events.

Lastly, my passion for engaging with our aging population, is something near and dear to my heart. I am blessed with the support from my mother-in-law who lives in our home and helps raise my children. I want to help give that generation a long and healthy life in Tofino. We need to take care of the wise and give them focus on affordable services and accessible resources that allow them to stay close to home and age gracefully.

I believe my years of continuous community involvement and efforts to make an impact is what sets me apart from my fellow candidates. I feel very strongly about being a voice for the people of Tofino and with your vote I will bring focus back to our community as a whole.

Chris Heisterman

I don’t feel it’s productive to compare myself to other candidates. It’s more important to identify our collective strengths. All of the candidates for mayor and council have excellent qualities; but I will tell you what I feel my strengths are.

During my campaign I have noticed that there is more and more of a divide in our community. I am often asked polarizing questions like; Do you support public or private housing? Do we need to stop commercial expansion? Do you support fish farms? These are complicated questions that require complicated answers and affect everyone.

The most important quality that we need on council is to understand, work with, and unite our community. This is my strength.

I understand:

-different perspectives and interests

-the intricacies of local business and real estate

-the importance of protecting our environment

-the difficult and daunting task of finding long term housing solutions

-the importance of reinforcing positive relationships with neighbouring communities (First Nations, and Ucluelet)

This is a by-election with a current council and experienced district staff.

This means it’s particularly important to work with what they have already accomplished so that we can move forward and complete pressing issues together. I have the ambition and qualities to make this happen.

Stephen Ashton

I have been elected to Tofino Council and served a full term in 2008. I have also been elected to the Tofino Chamber of Commerce as Director and VP, and have served a term appointment on the Tourism Tofino board of Directors.

I live off the grid and commute by kayak to Tofino. I’m a member of the Green Party of Canada and Green Party of British Columbia. I am a long serving director with the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and veteran of the 1993 blockades.

I hope to bring a Green conscience to Council as well as my business experience.

Please Vote.

Cathy Thicke

I am happy to share some of the experiences and perspectives that I feel will help me contribute meaningfully to the Tofino council, over the remainder of this term.

In general terms, living in Tofino for over 30 years has given me a longer term view of the many issues currently before Council.

Knowing where we have been has helped me make sense of where we want to go and how we might get there. As well, with three generations of our family now here, I am very committed to the future well-being of our community.

Specific skills and experiences that will be beneficial to my ability to serve on council include:

1. Seven years on Tofino Council (2011-18).

2. Eight years as the Co-chair of the CBT developing regional consensus on many issues with our First Nation and non First Nation neighbours (2012-2020).

3. A Masters Degree in Tourism Management (RRU 2011) which has helped me understand some of the short and longer term benefits and impacts of our most important industry.

One of the things I have learned from all this is that significant changes and improvements to communities take time. They require considerable understanding, collaboration, and commitment. One of my favourite examples of this is the three decades of community effort that our Multi-Use- Path (MUP) has entailed. (For details of this story please see If elected, I believe I can get up to speed quickly and bring all three of these attributes to Council over the remaining 21 months of this term. Thank you.

Jacky Challenger

The principal role of a municipal councillor is to carefully consider the well-being and interests of their community and municipality as a whole. This is what I do every day. My work and personal life intersect in many ways, and underlying all of it is my desire to create space for wellbeing. I am known for my calm, grounded and compassionate nature. I am deliberate in my actions and remain level-headed in a predicament.

This past year, with the help of my incredible team at Coastal Bliss Yoga, we successfully navigated through two lengthy closures and a reduced capacity of almost 70%. This was extremely challenging.

Our future council will have many new and pre-existing issues they’ll be tasked with solving. I believe my wealth of experience in working collaboratively to create positive solutions will be valuable.

Great councillors are informed, prepared and have a strong understanding of their communities vision.

I am new to politics, but I love to learn. It is rare that I am not enrolled in an online course or reading several books at a time. In my role as a teacher, it is important that I always show up with a lesson plan and clear objectives. Tofino has set clear intentions that are outlined in the 2020 OCP. This vision will guide us in moving forward in a sustainable way that will benefit our diverse community. I’ll utilize my eagerness to learn, as well as my teaching habits of preparation and clarity to hit the ground running.

Ali Sawyer

Who I am as a person is who I am as a candidate, and what sets me apart is my sheer commitment and dedication to this town and the people who live here. I’m not going to re-iterate the main issues we’re facing, we know what they are and talk about them daily. A councillor is more than the problems that they deal with, they are the person who will be your voice at the table, and in that role, I will make sure that every voice is heard.

When looking at something on the agenda, I will think of my friends who are raising children, my coworkers who live in vans, the homeowners who have been here for 30 years, the people who are 57 and unsure if they will have a place to rent when they retire, and I will speak for them. I see the people who are just growing their businesses, and the ones whose company names are now synonymous with Tofino.

I’m unbiased in my personal views, and what I want, and why I’m running, is to make sure this town succeeds while holding on to the values of those who have worked so hard to call this place home.

Every person who lives here is an integral part of this community, and we all deserve to have a say in what happens as we move forward.

READ MORE: Tofino’s councillor candidates lay out their motivations for running

READ MORE: Tofino councillor candidates talk town’s biggest issues

READ MORE: WATCH: Tofino mayoralty candidates face off at forum

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