Morinville’s mayor says she’ll be stepping out of politics this fall so that she can spend more time with her family.
Mayor Lisa Holmes posted a letter Thursday on Facebook saying that she would not run in this fall’s municipal election.
The post was made shortly after she informed colleagues at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (of which she is the president) of her decision.
Holmes said she wanted to spend more time with her husband Thomas and sons Nathan and Zachary.
“I had a lot of conversations with my family and felt like seven years of public life was probably enough for them for the time being.”
Holmes’s decision means that at least three seats will be up for grabs in this fall’s civic election in Morinville, as councillors Gord Putnam and Brennan Fitzgerald have also said that they plan to leave office at the end of this term.
While it was tough being a parent and a politician, Holmes said she hoped her experience would show people that it was possible to be both, and that she would see more young women on the ballot this fall.
“I’m excited to see who has some innovative ideas and who feels they can step in and serve the community.”
A look back and ahead
Married with two kids, Holmes was first elected to town council in 2010 and became mayor in 2013.
She faced a number of challenging issues in her term, including a photo-radar plebiscite, a fight over a new public school site, and the seemingly interminable struggle to get the town’s new rec-centre built.
The rec-centre has been a “slow and frustrating” project, Holmes said. She was excited, however, that the first phase of the project was underway, with a groundbreaking ceremony on the new arena set to happen at the end of June.
Holmes said the public school site debate was particularly challenging for her, as her kids were enrolled with Sturgeon Public School Division.
“I remember sitting on Family Day long weekend with maps of the developments in Morinville and trying to put together puzzle pieces of available land to see what else we could do, because we had hit a wall,” Holmes said.
That work led to the creation a new school site in Grandin Heights, getting the stalled public school construction project back on track.
“I have to give Greg Hofmann and Andy Isbister credit, because I came up with a crazy plan and they jumped on board and implemented it,” Holmes said, referring to the town’s director of planning and chief administrative officer, respectively.
Holmes said she was proud of the work council did this term rebuilding relationships with its regional neighbours, particularly Alexander First Nation and Sturgeon County, as well as the Incredible Edibles initiative she started as a councillor. She also had many fond memories working with students visiting town hall through the Junior Mayor’s program and seeing how excited they were to learn about their town and community.
Holmes said she still had plenty of work left to do this term, and had no plans to leave Morinville after the election. She planned to look for a job in the private sector that would make use of her master’s in arts and leadership, but didn’t rule out “retiring” back into politics later.
“I think serving the public is where I want to be, and I’ll end up there no matter what the role.”
Although he personally felt Holmes could have spent more time on local issues instead of regional ones, Sheldon Fingler, whom Holmes beat in the 2013 election by just 16 votes, said Holmes had been a good mayor for Morinville.
“I wish her well in her future political endeavours.”
Putnam also out
Putnam announced last April that he too would not seek re-election this fall.
“Although I have truly enjoyed the experience and feel there is a lot of work left to be done, I want to pursue other interests and give other residents a chance to serve our community,” he said in an email.
Putnam said he was proud to have helped merge the Sturgeon and Westlock housing foundations into the new Homeland Housing group, as it was a great example of regional co-operation. Homeland Housing has developed an affordable housing project for Morinville he hopes the province will fund next year.
As a councillor, Putnam cited his work on the Hwy. 2/Cardiff Road traffic lights and the town’s rec-centre as key accomplishments. He said he personally would have liked to have seen the town make more progress on a partnership with Sturgeon County on the rec-centre and library funding, however, as well as address the possibility of a regional government.
“My observation is that substantial resources are being spent on trying to resolve issues such as library, recreation, fire and policing funding because of borders, when I think the residents of the region are interested in seeing less government overall and more efficient delivery of services and fiscal accountability.”