RDCK Election 2011: Will Parker picks present as time to enter political fray in Area H
Although a raw rookie on the municipal political stage in the regional district, Will Parker has always been involved in politics and community affairs.
Born and raised in the Slocan Valley, he grew up surrounded by a multitude of outspoken and radical political people: U.S. draft dodgers, back-to-the land folk, Doukhobors and scores of artists and other anti-establishment people.
He was also heavily influenced early on in his life by his grandmother Carpendale, who was very involved in the valley’s politics.
But when he began to consider his own foray onto the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area H stage for the Nov. 19 election, he was nervous about running for director against incumbent Walter Popoff, but at the same time couldn’t think of a reason not to run.
“I just felt like it was a good time to run … it’s about honouring a commitment and all of the things I said I was about for most of my life,” he said. “I really felt like I have something to contribute, to board dynamics, to communication and increasing accessibility to young people and inspiring energy in this area.”
He was not dissatisfied with the job Popoff had done, in fact, he spoke highly of the job the first-year director had done. But he wanted to carry a different voice to the board table.
Parker was hesitant to pull apart issues he saw happening in the area and in the regional district as a whole, but he hinted at creating a better atmosphere for the economy to flourish.
The major issue Area H faces relates to the economy, said Parker, and there needs to be decisions made to support local business and create jobs in the area.
He wanted to see some mentoring projects between older and younger people created, like constructing a footbridge across the Slocan River at Appledale to connect the community.
Local politics is often overlooked, he noted, partly because of the very grassroots nature of the issues, making it harder to pick apart the issues.
“Just running in this election is accomplishing many of the things that I find most important, which is inspiring interest in local elections. There would have not been a local election if I didn’t run.”
He was disappointed that a very small percentage of people vote. He pointed to the multitude of occupy movements across the world and in Nelson as the start of something.
“Let’s start to occupy what we do have, let’s pay attention to some of the good things. To me, that’s get out to the polling stations on Nov. 19. Let’s (occupy) the vote,” he said.
Parker’s family moved to Vancouver when 12 but moved back at 19. He attended Selkirk College, transferring to the University of Victoria to finish a degree in psychology. He came back and lived and worked in the valley for another five years as a treeplanter before leaving for Halifax to complete a master’s degree in environmental studies. Two years later he was back in the valley.
Now working as a roofer and running a boys’ mentoring program in Nelson, he has been the Rural Alternatives Research and Training Society president in Vallican for the last three years, and a board member of the Dumont Cemetery.