All-women council to run Algonquin Highlands
It’s not clear if it’s the first time in Ontario history, but if not, it’s an incredibly rare occurrence.
On Oct. 22, the voters of Algonquin Highlands elected a council made up entirely of women.
Municipal election results released on Monday evening showed Julie Shortreed winning the Ward 1 council seat and Jennifer Dailloux taking the Ward 3 seat for Algonquin Highlands.
Mayor Carol Moffatt was acclaimed, as was Liz Danielsen for Ward 2 and Lisa Barry for Ward 2 – all three are returning to their previous roles on council.
“It’s noteworthy. It’s a celebratory moment.” Moffatt said in an interview on Tuesday.
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of some Canadian women getting the federal vote, which makes an all-women council seem particularly timely, Moffatt noted.
“We really, at the core of it are five people committed to our community who will work together to do hopefully what needs doing. I think that you take a moment to say hoorah, isn’t this interesting and fun and possibly historic and that’s great,” she said, adding it will be business as usual starting at their first meeting together as a new council in December.
Shortreed said being on an all-women council was a neat situation, but that it shouldn’t matter much when it comes to decision making.
“It should be no different than an all-men’s council, right? We’re all people whether we’re men or women. I think it’s pretty cool,” she told the Minden Times.
She said she was happy to be joining a council that had three experienced councillors already in place and would be looking to Moffatt for guidance and leadership.
Jennifer Dailloux said she was pleased to find herself on an all-women council.
“I have worked on women’s rights issues for many years overseas and am a real history buff on the women’s suffrage movements in both Canada and the U.K. So to actually play a part in this story is incredibly special for me,” she said by email.
Dailloux was sitting by a campfire when she received the election results on Monday night. She ran against Brian Lynch, who is currently councillor representing Ward 1, but decided to run in Ward 3 this election. Dailloux received 394 votes. Lynch received 210.
“My telephone dinged and I looked down to see that the municipal clerk had sent through the results,” Dailloux said. “I opened the message and the place erupted in cheers!”
She said the moment was one of joy and she’s eager to join the team.
Her priorities going forward include increasing cellphone coverage, strengthening environmental protection laws and developing more engagement with constituents. She said she’d also be looking at lake-specific issues, such as the proposed quarry near Harvey Lake.
Shortreed said she ran because it seemed like the next logical thing to do to help her community. She’s been living in the area for 30 years.
Lack of affordable housing in the municipality is one of the issues she would like to see something done about.
“I hear it every day from everyone,” she said.
Shortreed received 272 votes in the election, her opponent David Lawson received 117.
Moffatt said that she wants to see council focusing on the big picture in the upcoming term.
“I see Algonquin Highlands being at an exciting crossroads … where some big decisions have to be made and those are foundational decisions about who we want to be and how we’re going to get there,” she said. “Councils are meant to be governors, as opposed to managers and my focus for this term is to guide council toward focusing on strategic development so that we can set everyone up for success from council to staff to the community.”
She also wants to enhance outreach to the community, to “foster interest and engagement in the civic process.”