Question 1: Please provide a brief Bio of yourself.
I have lived in Williams Lake and area since I was about 10 years old. I Graduated, married, and raised my family here. I owned and operated my own business for 42 years. I have two children and 7 grandchildren. I have served on City Council for a total of 24 years at different times. I have belonged to many groups and service clubs and am presently a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, and Chair of Cariboo Park Home Society better known as Glen Arbor.
I moved to Williams Lake in the early 1970s, 50 years ago. I graduated from Columneetza, and then went off to UBC. I have been married to my husband Dan for 36 years. We raised our three children here. We now have 4 grandchildren with a new baby on the way. I recently retired after 37 years as a faculty member of Thompson Rivers University. I had the privilege of instructing and coordinating a 9-month program that prepared students for the workplace. I have been a city councilor from 1996-1999 and was a two-term Mayor from 2008-2014. Since leaving office I had the honor of sitting at a provincial table for 4 years as a Governor for the Law Foundation of BC from 2015-2018. This was a government appointment where I had the unique opportunity of representing the community perspective of rural BC.
I moved to Williams Lake in 1974 and have been proud to call it my home ever since. I found a career as an electrician for Tolko, retiring last January after almost 47 years. I also raised a beautiful family, with my wife Sharon, parents, children, and grandchildren all having lived here. Since I’ve been in Williams Lake, I have volunteered for many causes like the Canadian Volunteer Income Tax Program, the Williams Lake and District Credit Union, Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Cariboo Memorial Hospital Board, and
the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple. I served as a City Councillor for seven terms from 1993 to 2014.
I’m running to be the next Mayor of Williams Lake. My resume revolves around communicating with the people of Williams Lake and being a strong advocate for the region. My 16-year background in local broadcasting connected me to many of the people and places in our area. Learning how to be entertaining and informative for them means I’m an easy person to communicate with, which are great qualities for anyone in public office. Also, as a tourism advocate, I have worked with industry and First Nations to re-establish the direct ferry sailing between Port Hardy and Bella Coola. This was a great learning experience on how to deal with and negotiate against the Province. I’ve been a strong representative for the City and region for many years.
Question 2: Why are you running for Mayor of Williams Lake and what makes you the best candidate for the position?
I am running for re-election to continue to provide the stability needed for our City to continue to grow. No matter where in life we are from Kindergarten to retirement we need stability in this changing world. Over the last 8 years since I have been Mayor, we have gone through some trying times like fires, floods, and COVID. Even with what mother nature has thrown at us we have continued to grow and in many cases prosper. Our spending is under control and our debt load has been reduced significantly. We can now put more effort into the finer things we need to make Williams Lake an even better place to live, work, and play.
I am running for Mayor because I love Williams Lake. I love the people and I love the community spirit! I am not running against anyone but running for the position of Mayor. I have experience as a two-term Mayor, and strong and respectful working relationships with both the WLFN and TNG. I have a collaborative leadership style with a history of working with local community partners to address the social issues in our community. And I have a renewed passion to make a difference and the time and energy to hit the ground running!
I am running for Mayor because I believe Williams Lake deserves better from our elected officials. Many issues require full commitment and renewed energy from City Hall, and I believe my experience and record of action make me the best candidate for the position. The foundation of my approach to leadership is to work together to tackle our community’s issues head-on. The present Mayor has shown that he is not up to the task, as we have seen far too little progress over the last 8 years. My passion for the community has never wavered, and as Mayor, I hope to use it to enact meaningful change in Williams Lake.
I recognize that there are many opportunities that have the potential to pass us by under the current leadership, which is why I am running. We need to be able to foster strong, collaborative relationships with our local and regional partners. This is an area I’ve demonstrated in my public life already. Being able to think first and then respond tactfully while building relationships are expectations that we all have for our elected officials. Communication skills are one of my strongest abilities that I’ve developed over my 8 years on City Council and as a representative for the region.
Question 3..How would you address the homelessness and social crisis in Williams Lake?
This is a huge problem that appears to be countrywide. Although much is not within our mandate or ability to control we must continue to work with the RCMP, the Health Agencies, and the Provincial Government to find a solution.
As a community, we must deal with our social issues head-on. We do not have time to point fingers or blame others, this is a community problem. We need to roll up our sleeves and get all the stakeholders at the table. Over the last few years, there has been a Well Being and Community Safety Plan developed with local agencies and stakeholders. We need the right leadership at the table to implement this plan to address all our social issues.
I don’t believe there is one single answer to address homelessness or other social issues, like the overdose crisis, in Williams Lake. This is why we must take a comprehensive, multi-level approach to these issues. More cooperation and engagement are needed between City Hall and other governments and local organizations to improve services. As mayor, I would work together to implement local solutions to address homelessness, including wraparound programs, supportive housing, and addiction-specific resources. We must also continue to pressure the provincial and federal governments to crack down on repeat offenders.
We’re going to find great and more immediate success by working with our community partners in this area. As a local government, our role is to aid the organizations that are already in place to address homelessness, such as the Cariboo Friendship Society, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, BC Housing, and private investors. For social crisis solutions, the scenario is similar. We need to find out what these organizations need, that we can provide, to see any advances here.
Question 4..What are the other pressing issues in Williams Lake and how could you improve the situation?
Health Care, staff shortages, and Housing are probably at the top of the list.
We are at an important crossroads in our community. People want a new way forward. We need a new vision for Williams Lake. My vision includes making Williams Lake the best that it can be. A community where all people feel safe and valued. A healthy community, where people feel welcome and where they can contribute and make a difference. A vision that includes making Williams Lake a more liveable community!
As I’ve talked to people in the community over the past several months, many common concerns have arisen: The healthcare shortage, recreation, housing, infrastructure, and cooperation with First Nations and other governments. I believe we must invest in our community if we want to ensure its continued success. That means working together with our regional neighbors to bring new infrastructure, development, and amenities to our community with the help of funding from senior levels of government. For example, I would like to see a new Sports Facility built in Williams Lake, complete with indoor soccer fields and a year-round jogging track. We must also create new infrastructure to allow for
more housing development and work to revitalize our downtown.
Housing is at the top of the list. The labor shortage is also a high priority and what can be done to assist local businesses to find workers. That becomes more focused in recruiting health care professionals, like doctors, nurses, lab techs, physiotherapists, and others to come and practice here. We also need to continue to be loud and supportive for the industries that are currently here like forestry, mining, tourism, and agriculture.
Question 5..Any final thoughts on any topic that you would like to share?
There are some great things taking place in Williams Lake, many businesses are growing or expanding and some preliminary work is being done on our recreational opportunities that I would like to continue to expand on. On October 15 re-elect Walt Cobb for an honest, open, positive, and experienced Mayor
Moving forward we need strong, respectful relationships with all our community partners. Whether it is to present a united front for funding opportunities or getting the resources and programs for our social issues. We need to work together. When I was last in office, we worked to create a Community Forest Partnership with the WLFN. It gave us the opportunity to build relationships, but we also created a new revenue stream that generated over 2 million in new revenue over the last three years. This is huge. It is
clear that we need leadership that recognizes that the political climate has changed. The demographics of Williams Lake have changed. People’s expectations have changed. On October 15, vote for Cook. Vote for new vision, new hope, and a new future!
This October, we have a chance to elect someone with a vision for our future and the ability to enact the necessary changes through positive leadership. I believe that my record in the community and vision for our future makes me the right person for the job. This October 15th, I humbly ask for your support. Please vote Surinderpal Rathor for Mayor of Williams Lake to ensure change for the better.
What’s important to remember in this election is that voters get to choose who their community representative will be. Who do you want to be representing our community around the province? I’ve demonstrated that not only am I capable, but I’m also experienced, thoughtful, inclusive, and ready.