As of this fall, Al will no longer be “mayor of little places” since he has decided not to run for a third term. It has been an amazing seven years and I am very proud of his accomplishments. but the town may not know what has happened to it since my voice will become unleashed;)
He wrote about his decision on his blog:
At Monday’s council meeting, I will formally announce that I will not run for re-election in October.
Many of you have been asking me to put my hat into the ring one more time. I want you to know that your phone calls, notes and personal conversations mean a great deal to me. I have given my decision a lot of thought, especially since I have so enjoyed the past seven years as mayor. If I were a bit younger, the decision would be easy. But looking at my family history, it isn’t fair to my family. Jeri and I need some down time, some time to visit grandchildren and children, some time to just hang out with each other.
It’s been quite a run. In seven years, Jeri and I have endured many personal hardships: prostate cancer; the loss of three brothers and a sister; the loss of our beloved niece to cancer; and the loss of Jeri’s mom. Because we have thrown ourselves into the political arena, these events have all been public with all the support that a person can get from this wonderful community. But when I look back to 2003, I sometimes wonder how we survived.
I am proud to have been the mayor of this great community of Mississippi Mills. I have enjoyed meeting the people in our community and assisting them with their concerns. I especially want to acknowledge the contributions of the many volunteers in our community. I have enjoyed driving through every part of this large community, being able to appreciate the beauty of our river, the farmlands and the shops.
Some of our accomplishments over the past seven years include the introduction of a Program Review, an ongoing process that has made departments more effective and efficient. All departments create task lists and make regular monthly updates to council resulting in council being fully informed of all issues.
We have greatly improved communication with the community through the advertisements in local newspapers, our website and our e-newsletters.
A major focus for me has been strategic planning. Highlights here include a 10-year capital/financial plan and bringing more businesses to town. General maintenance of roads, sidewalks and bridges are also the result of long-term planning. Plans have also included concentration on policing.
I strongly believe in fiscal responsibility. I am proud to say that taxes in the Town of Mississippi Mills are lower than in surrounding communities of Carleton Place, Perth, Arnprior and Lanark Highlands.
We have made amazing improvements to the infrastructure in our town. Such initiatives as the restoration of the Old Town Hall, the tarring and chipping of the town’s many country roads, the building of the roundabout at the entrance to town and the development of the waste water treatment plant have been undertaken. Other projects such as providing services in the business park, expanding the municipal offices, upgrading the Stewart Community Centre in Pakenham and the Almonte Community Centre have also been among priorities.
The beautification of the town has been another priority with large projects such as the Riverwalk and the Veterans’ Memorial Walkway and smaller projects such as the flowers and the community banners in Pakenham and Almonte. Students are hired each summer to keep our community looking beautiful. Of course, the Beautification Committee must be congratulated for their wonderful work and commitment to our community.
Throughout my mandate, I have enjoyed excellent rapport with the town’s partners at the county, provincial and federal levels. I have maintained an excellent relationship with our local MP, the Honourable Gordon O’Connor, and our MPP, Norm Sterling, and believe that I have been been a strong voice for our town with the higher levels of government.
One of the highlights of my political career was to be elected by my peers as Warden of Lanark County in 2007 This experience broadened my knowledge of the workings of municipal politics and widened my list of contacts and friends. When I was warden, the County partnered with the federal and provincial governments to provide high-speed Internet services to virtually all residents of Mississippi Mills. This allows our residents to enjoy the perks of big city living while living in our beautiful countryside.
I have had the luxury of working with two excellent staffs- at the county and especially at the town. I cannot say enough about the professionalism and energy with which these folks serve you in our beautiful town. I’m sure they didn’t know what to make of me when I arrived with no political experience in 2003. They know how much I have relied upon them and how much respect I have for their hard work and dedication.
In preparing to write these thoughts, I read over all of the speeches given at the end of a year or at the beginning of a term of council. The issues I raised during my first election in 2003- sustainable growth, policing, economic development, water protection, the capacity of the lagoon, rural character, protection of our farming community, transparency, seniors and youth- continued to be my focus throughout my two terms in office. I am particularly proud of our accomplishments in infrastructure. We have received grants for so many projects, including the waste water treatment plant, the two arenas, the Old Town Hall, rural roads and bridges, and so much more. I feel proud of what we’ve accomplished.
In the end, it all comes down to relationships with the people I have interacted with in seven years. I have worked closely with two County Councils and have made life-long friends. I have worked with two Town Councils and that has provided me with both joys and challenges. But especially, I have come to know and love the people who make up our town as I met with you in kitchens, town halls, at festivals or in the streets of our town.
There are no words to adequately describe how much I have enjoyed the ride!