Highlands’ new mayor composes for TV, film

This is the fourth in our series of stories about new mayors in the capital region

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The Highlands has a history of electing creative types to its council. So it’s no surprise the next mayor will be a composer for television and film who counts Henry Winkler among his former bosses.
Ken Williams, who has served nine years on a council that has also included roots musician Allen Dobb and composer Karel Roessingh, said it doesn’t necessarily change the way they approach decision-making.
But does it make for a more creative council?
“Well, it’s one that can carry a tune,” he said.
Williams, 62, won the mayor’s seat with 92 per cent of the vote against his only competitor, David Shebib, who ran in all 13 municipalities.
Speaking in the town’s new community hall, he said he only decided to run for mayor after Jane Mendum decided to step aside after two terms.
Williams’ entry into the race was a surprise to many in the community. Mendum had already announced plans to run for re-election, but withdrew the day nomination papers were due, which coincided with Williams’ entry into the race. Sherry Clayton, a friend of Williams who plays drums and lives in Langford, also entered the council race late but was the only candidate who failed to win a seat.
Mendum led the council through heated debates — especially those surrounding the Bear Mountain development, which many thought would threaten the secluded nature of the district — as well as quieter terms. The most recent council has focused on developing a sustainability plan and infrastructure projects such as the new fire hall.
Williams, who speaks softly and said he is inclined to cautious decision-making and frugality, gave a practical answer when asked why he decided to run for mayor.
“I was the longest continuously serving councillor. I stepped up to the plate,” he said.
Williams grew up in Victoria and enjoyed cycling to the Highlands in his youth. He played bass in local rock bands at the Barbary Banjo in Bastion Square, later founding Legacy Music with Roessingh. The company specialized in score-writing for film and television. Williams’ credits include TV shows So Weird and the Magician’s House, as well as films such as Police Academy and In the Company of Men.
Roessingh (also a former mayor) described Williams as one of the quieter voices on council, but one who did his work on the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society and Treaty Advisory Committee well.
“I think he’s quiet on council,” he said. “As a bass player, he’s out there. … [But] there might be another similarity in that a bass player doesn’t stick out all the time.”
Mendum said Williams takes a common-sense approach to decision-making.
“Ken’s very reasonable, very approachable and I’d say he makes decisions in a fact-based manner,” she said.
Prior to the election, Williams said the new council would most likely be faced with a “to-do” list. Among the first agenda items will be determining a policy for secondary suites in the district, which has seen growth of around 20 per cent in the past 10 years.
The next term will also require extra effort to get residents involved in the local government’s new committee structure, with three new committees focused on sustainable land use, social sustainability and heritage.
Williams said he’s ready for a new challenge after nine years as a councillor.
“Now I’ve got an entirely new role. It’ll be fun to bring a whole new team together.”
asmart@timescolonist.com

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