that doesn’t apply to the wood-panelled offices of Parliament Hill or
Queen’s Park, where there is plentiful power, perks and six-figure
salaries, but it certainly applies to many municipal politicians,
especially those in small, rural communities.
In places like
Haliburton County, local politics is still considered a part-time
vocation and councillors are not highly paid. There is no gold-plated
pension. Yet, they remain subject to the same level of public scrutiny
and criticism as their provincial and federal counterparts. Maybe more.
Most of us don’t run into our MPP or MP at the grocery store very
Municipal politicians shape their communities with
their decisions, and so it is critically important that those people are
at the council table for the right reasons. Cheryl Murdoch was at the
council table for the right reasons.
The now former deputy
mayor of Minden Hills spent 15 years on council, bringing with her heaps
of experience from more than two decades serving on the local school
board; first the Haliburton County School Board, which would eventually
become part of the amalgamated Trillium Lakelands District School Board
that we know today. Murdoch was heavily involved in that amalgamation
process, where she chaired the strategic planning committee. She would
be elected the first county trustee on the new, amalgamated board, as
well as its first chairperson.
Murdoch was always a calm,
steady and level-headed presence on Minden Hills and Haliburton County
councils. While some politicians like to publicly pontificate more than
may be required, when Murdoch spoke, you knew it was going to be
constructive and to the point. Her steadfastness was also an asset
during the tumultuous Minden Hills council term of 2010 to 2014, where
she became the experienced anchor of the ship on a turbulent sea.
She has become sort of an elder stateswoman on council, sharing her experience and knowledge with colleagues, and has always kept close connection with the community she serves.
Speaking of municipal politicians last week, she said this:
“We’re the lowest of the low on the totem pole, which, to me, is the best, because we’re the ones who deal with the people directly. I go to town, I go to the grocery store, or the post office or whatever, and everybody wants to talk, and that’s part of my job, and I feel that any councillor should understand that people want to talk to you. You’re there for the people. If you’re not truly going to care about the people, you’re in the wrong job.”
Pretty much sums it up.
Thank you, Cheryl, for your time and commitment to your community. All the best.