This is the fourth in a series profiling City of White Rock council members elected Oct. 15
First-term White Rock councillor Michele Partridge is enjoying the “learning curve” that comes with her new position.
In the 2022 municipal election, Partridge was elected to council with 2,073 votes along with her running mate, Elaine Cheung, who was elected with 2,106 votes.
Partridge’s love for the arts guided her career for decades. An actor for more than 10 years, she moved into producing films and even operating her own acting schools. But, her interest in politics was always “in the back of my mind because I was president of student council in high school.”
After teaching acting for more than 25 years, Partridge realized that there was no longer any challenge in it for her, which she took as a sign to make a change.
Her White Rock “travelling acting school” — which moved every few years due to increasing rental costs — transitioned to an online school during the pandemic. Soon after, Partridge sold it and re-branded herself into a confidence coach, teaching public speaking to others and actors how to self-tape.
With sitting on the BIA board, being involved in sub-committees with the city, being a part of the Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance (PACA) and volunteering with various organizations, the first-term councillor’s desire to see White Rock thrive is apparent.
Partridge was able to reconnect with her political interests when she worked on Gordie Hogg’s campaign as he ran for a seat in Parliament in the 2021 federal election. This experience was a great learning opportunity for Partridge, she said.
With herself and Cheung running in similar circles for years and becoming friends, it only made sense for the two to run together, Partridge said, noting their similar personality types and priorities for the city. Although the two originally wanted to become White Rock’s first co-mayors, Partridge shared, laughing, running for council was the next best thing as the former was not possible.
And so, they got to work building a website, running social media accounts and getting out into the community so voters could get to know the two better.
“A lot of people said that ‘you probably won’t get in, it’ll probably be a couple times’ and we got in!”
Streamlining the process for building permits is one of Partridge’s main goals for the next four years, one she said she shares with every other member on council.
“It’s a very large backlog that was exacerbated by COVID, lack of staff, just people leaving for other positions and that’s unavoidable… I feel bad for these businesses and these people who are just trying to update their bathroom.
“Right now, it’s over a year wait which is crazy.”
Although city staff are wonderful, Partridge said, hiring more capable members in the planning and development department will help address the building permits issue.
Looking at ways to improve the process would also help in revitalizing the business community, which is another of Partridge’s goals.
“Housing is a human right,” Partridge said, which is why low-cost housing options are needed in the city, she said.
It’s the reason she is eager to see how the provincial government’s upcoming plans will impact municipalities.
With several meetings of the newly elected council in the books, Partridge is finding the group works well together.
“We’re all resourceful, creative and logical White Rock-ers who love the city. We all have varying backgrounds and skill sets.
“We’re all eager to make changes, so we all decided to have our planning meetings before the holidays instead of January,” she said.
Among the goals she can’t yet divulge, Partridge said she has many opinions on refreshing the waterfront. As far as learning the specifics, she said, residents will have to “wait and see.”