Morinville – Town Councillor Lisa Holmes, currently serving her turn as Deputy Mayor, has announced she will run for Mayor of Morinville in the fall General Municipal Election.
Holmes moved to Morinville four years ago with her family and was elected three years ago with 1,007 votes. The then political newcomer took third place in the 2010 Council race, right behind front-runners Councillor Gordon Boddez (1,088 votes) and then Councillor Paul Krauskopf (1,050 votes). Three years later, Holmes believes she is the right person to lead Morinville over the next four years.
“Over the past term I’ve had the opportunity to experience how the role of an elected official can be a strong advocate for our community and influence positive change,” Holmes said. “I’ve spent my time serving the people of Morinville with passion and commitment in each committee I’ve served on, both locally and regionally.”
Holmes said she has prided herself on making decisions with integrity, trustworthiness and always with the best interests of Morinville in mind. The Deputy Mayor said she has a vision for Morinville and what it can become in the future, but declined a request to elaborate on what that vision was, saying she would elaborate when she unveils the platforms of her campaign in the coming weeks.
“This is our home – our community – and I intend to be here raising our family here for many years,” she said. “I have a vested interest in what the future of our Town holds, and I feel that in the role of mayor, I can help to facilitate Morinville’s progress in a positive way.”
Holmes said she hopes the people of Morinville believe she is the leader who can help Morinville maintain its unique character, sense of place and progressive identity as the community grows together. “Our community is dynamic and needs dynamic leadership,” she said, adding she has spent the past three years educating herself and learning who the players are in the region, something she has solidified over the past year being Council’s alternate member on the Capital Region Board. “I’ve proven over the last three years that I can follow through and get things done, and that’s what we need at the moment.”
The Deputy Mayor said she believes she has followed through on everything she has ever promised because she is very careful to only make a promise when she can actually do it.
“I’ve had several projects that I’ve championed that have gone through the budget process, which is very hard to get through” Holmes said. “This year’s example was Incredible Edible, and another example was when I saw a gap in the budget process in our first year on Council, and felt there was an issue with the openness and transparency of how we were doing budgeting. I put forward the motion to form the Finance and Audit Committee, which I think has changed in a profound way the way that we look at and the way we put forward our budgets and engage the town and the people that live here.
Holmes said she feels the biggest thing she has done in her first term is opening the office of councillor up. She said she would continue to do that in the role of mayor by bringing people into the government and showing them that it is their government. “In small ways that may not seem to be significant, we’ve really made a change to allow people to have more access to information,” Holmes said. “After hearing [Calgary]Mayor [Naheed] Nenshi at my first AUMA [Alberta Urban Municipalities Association] in my first year, I heard the idea of having babysitting and shuttles for seniors for open houses and that was implemented right away when I brought it forward because it is really important to give people the tools to actually come in and be engaged,” Holmes said, adding recent open houses have not utilized those services because they were run by external consultants. “It’s strictly the ones that we do as a Council that have had that.”
The Deputy Mayor prides her presence on social media as one of her strengths. “We are a young community and we don’t operate the same way as community’s operated in the past,” she said. “People want to be informed and they want to be engaged in their own time and in their own space. Because I am part of that generation that uses technology so well, it has become an essential tool that I communicate with.”
Holmes said the Town’s own social media policy, suggested roughly three years ago near the beginning of the term, has been delayed because of the Town’s website and the technology plan that was done surrounding it. “There was a lot of things that had to be laid down and the ground work to get that going,” she said. “Supposedly it’s happening next month. I felt there is a gap between what the Town is doing and what I’ve been doing and I’ve been trying to pick up the slack almost for the Town in the idea of engaging the community with Council, sharing information and sharing agenda packages.”
The Deputy Mayor said that effort has not just been through social media tools. She said she has hand delivered budget open house invitations to the businesses so they were aware of what was going on as well as to other places where people gather in town. “Not everyone does use technology,” she said, adding she has also gone to speak to seniors every single time she has been invited to Heritage Lodge or Aspen House. “I don’t have grandparents. I don’t have someone locally that age that can give me information issue that are important to them,” Holmes said. “I feel it is important to me to reach out to them in any ways that I can.”
It is that reaching out that Holmes said has been a strong part of her first term, attending every community event she can, often at the detriment of her own family. “I think it is important to be active in the community, and go to not just the big things but the little things,” she said. “Not just the big grand openings, but the little events that people have. I formulated coffee nights and had two successful coffee nights, which has never been done before. I also opened my home in the second year to have a strategic planning and budget session with residents so that we could discuss things in a more informal session.”
Though Holmes said her focus over the last three years has been reaching out to the residents of Morinville, she sees the next eight years as one of reaching out from behind the mayor’s chair. Beyond that is too soon to tell, but she does not rule out a future in provincial politics. Holmes education was in political science and her post election direction has been one of continued education in municipal, regional and provincial affairs.
“I see my role on Council as a job,” she said. “I’m not going to say that it is a bad thing for me to have ambition beyond Morinville’s Town Council. But that is because I’m young, and I don’t believe that you should be serving in a public servant role for 20 or 30 years. The way that I see things is that you need to have new ideas and have a fresh intake from people. I personally will not be serving as mayor for more than a couple terms if I’m offered the opportunity because I don’t feel that’s something that benefits the community.”
But eight years as Morinville’s mayor would not likely be the end of the political road for Holmes. “It depends on what opportunities are offered as they are offered,” Holmes said. “[Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA] Maureen [Kubinec] is new and she’s got a couple more years until her term is up, and then she’ll probably run again. So we’re looking at six plus years. My ambition is to continue forward in public service because I love the role and I am very good at it, and it is something that I have such a passion for that I can’t imagine not continuing with it.”
Teamwork and ambassador role for mayor
Holmes said she wanted to see Mayor Paul Krauskopf still be a part of the Town after the election. “I see the role of mayor turning into more of a team than it is now,” she said. “I see everyone taking more of a regional role because the relationships that I’ve built have been so important, and it is something that I’ve seen other Councils do successfully – having everyone involved in the process. I see a role for Paul because he’s stepping away at a time where he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to be away from the team, and he would be able to fill a lot of really great roles as an advisor to Council.”
Holmes said Mayor Krauskopf could go out into the community to advocate for the Town in the community and in the region. “It could be local. It could be celebrating the 80th birthdays with seniors in the lodge and doing visits to school children, and the parts of being mayor that Paul was so good at because he has such a big heart.”
The mayoral candidate said she feels there are parts of the role of mayor that can be shared. “He deserves that,” she said adding she wants to give Mayor Krauskopf the opportunity to finish some of the things he and Council started together. “He’s worked so hard for Morinville.”
Holmes is planning to have a campaign launch event within a couple weeks.