Municipal politics comes naturally to Susan Ann Johnston.
Her father was a politician on the East Coast, and her late brother was the mayor of Pelly, Saskatchewan.
“I think it was passed down,” she said during an interview in her home. “It’s in my blood.”
It’s just days after she’s been elected as the new mayor of the District of Hope, and she is pondering the job ahead of her. There have been a few surprises, such as the media that’s been calling to chat.
“I’ve had four media interviews already,” she said. “I hadn’t been thinking about that part of the job.”
She’s been more concerned about the issues surrounding Hope, and getting down to what’s needed to be done. Some of the hot issues surrounding the election include the debate over who should be collecting garbage. While it was an interesting election issue, she said, the fact is that the current contractor has been contracted already.
“The contracts are signed, sealed and delivered, and now we have to live with that,” she said.
She hopes to look into the area’s recreation services, and is hoping to work with Citizens on Patrol. On Wednesday afternoon, she was getting ready to meet with senior administration to discuss each councilor’s portfolio.
Of course, Johnston is no stranger to Hope’s politics. She served on council for nine years, taking the last three off intentionally. Johnston knew she wanted to take a run for mayor while she was sitting on council, but didn’t feel prepared for the job.
She decided not to run in the 2008 election, and got involved in the community through a number of activities, including the Chamber of Commerce.
But it wasn’t just about brushing up for the next election, she said.
“We have to pay it back, always,” she said. “You can’t sit back and complain and then not doing anything about it. You get involved in your community because it’s where you live.”
On Saturday night, Johnston and her adult son walked down to the high school, just before the polls closed at 8 p.m
She had a feelings she would win, but didn’t know the numbers would be so far in her favour.
Defeating current Mayor Laurie French was bittersweet, as she regards him as a friend.
“We both love Hope, and we both want the best for Hope,” she said. “But it’s not about the people. It’s about the politics, and I really felt I could do a lot for the community.”
Johnston is one of many women that now govern municipalities in the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver.
“I think it’s wonderful, and I also think it’s long overdue,” she said. Premier Christy Clark’s success at the polls may warmed voters to the idea of women in political power. But strong women have been always been around.
Johnston’s looks to former Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo’s career for inspiration. Campagnolo was the first female lieutenant governor, was a cabient minister under Pierre Trudeau, and holds the Order of Canada (1973).
“She was such a good role model,” Johnston said.
The new council will be sworn in on December 5 in council chambers.
The results of Saturday’s election were:
Susan Johnston, 898 votes
Laurie French, 682 votes
Gerry Dyble, 1193
Scott Medlock, 1117
Peter Robb, 1,085
Donna Kropp, 946
Ronald Smith, 860
Tim Hudie, 814
Cindy Koszegi, 648
Walter Rawlinson, 473
Dan Williams, 365
Robert Haley, 246