International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, right, was accompanied by Whistler Mayor Hugh O'Reilly in Whistler, B.C., for a meeting in February.

Canadian mayor
to work from Hawaii

The mayor of Whistler, British Columbia, a ski resort town and key site for the 2010 Winter Olympics, says he needs a mid-life change from mountains and snow and will do his mayoral work at a distance.

"I'll be the mayor, but living in Hawaii and performing duties from there," said Mayor Hugh O'Reilly.

Facing his 50th birthday next month, O'Reilly announced yesterday that he's moving to the islands to sell real estate.

O'Reilly won't run for re-election in November. Instead, he'll complete the rest of this term, either telecommuting or commuting to council meetings from his new home in Hawaii, he said.

"I can leave Hawaii at noon, be here Sunday night at midnight, attend a council meeting all day Monday, leave here Tuesday morning and be back by noon," O'Reilly said in a telephone interview. "So in 48 hours I can turn it around."

He expects he'll have to travel between Canada and Hawaii a half dozen times in the next few months.

O'Reilly will start work Sept. 1 on Kauai for Playground, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intrawest, a resort developer. The company has been contracted to assist in selling 250 of the 350 hotel rooms at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort.

O'Reilly also plans to sell real estate from Kaanapali, Maui, where he and his wife have leased a condo.

"We're big golfers and love the warm weather," he said from the deck of his Whistler home where he was enjoying the view of 7,000 glacial peaks. "My view from here is pretty spectacular, but my view from Kaanapali is pretty nice, too."

O'Reilly's announcement came as a surprise to other city officials in Whistler, who were told of his decision just minutes before a news conference making the announcement.

He has served as mayor for nine years and on the City Council for eight years.

"He's going to move on," said City Council member Nick Davies, who is running to replace O'Reilly this fall. "We have two choices. We can turn this into a political football or we can take the high road."

Davies said he thinks the city can function with O'Reilly phoning in from Hawaii. Whistler has an acting mayor, a position that rotates among council members.

Whistler is a resort community about 75 miles north of Vancouver and a key site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

O'Reilly said he couldn't remain for another six years for the Olympics. He cited his age -- he turns 50 on Sept. 30 -- and the fact that he and his wife are now empty nesters as some of the reasons for his decision.

O'Reilly said he's received a negligible amount of negative feedback about his decision, and people have been supportive.

He thought he'd complete his term and begin his new job in November, but the start date was pushed up to September and O'Reilly couldn't turn the opportunity down.

O'Reilly, an American who moved to Canada at age 15, said he has no aspirations to run for political office in Hawaii.

Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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