After 16 years of public service, Algonquin Highlands mayor Carol Moffatt announced April 23 she will not be seeking re-election in the fall.

She joins Dysart et al mayor Andrea Roberts and Minden Hills mayor Brent Devolin in exiting public life following this term of office. The municipal elections are slated for Oct. 24 this year.

Moffatt said the decision was “tremendously difficult” and came with “mixed emotions.” “

While I’m passionately drawn to participating in what’s ahead for the Haliburton Highlands, it’s no secret to many that I’ve been at a personal crossroads for some time now,” she said.

“As the days have ticked along, it’s become very clear that ‘some day’ is now, so I’m choosing to shift my focus to the many personal pursuits I’ve set aside throughout 16 years of public service.

“Politics is an oddly captivating challenge that I’ll certainly miss being involved in – and there will undoubtedly be days when I’ll question this choice but for right now, it’s the right one for me.

She went on to say, “I’m excited for the revival of unfinished projects and the start of new ones. There are histories to preserve, photographs to make, stories to write and many roads to travel.”

Moffatt cautioned would-be councillors that the job is not “for the faint of heart, and yet we need people full of heart to do it.

“To those seeking office this fall: be strong, fair, responsive and open-minded. Work to build better forward, and remember that the correct decisions are rarely the popular ones.

“To those voting this fall: choose flexible, forward thinkers with broad knowledge who can listen and work as a team toward progress.”

The new Algonquin Highlands council will be sworn in Nov. 15 and until then, Moffatt said her commitment to governance, both at the lower-tier township and upper-tier County of Haliburton “is steadfast; and I’ll work toward a collaborative leadership transition.”

She added she was grateful for “this amazing experience” and thanked members of council, staff, and the public for putting their faith in her over the years.

Proud of hands-on research

Moffatt first ran for council in 1994 but lost by 22 votes. She then became heavily involved in the community. She was elected to her first term as a councillor in 2006 and was acclaimed as mayor in 2010, 2014 and 2018. She has also served as County warden.

She said that when first elected in 2010, she handed CAO Angie Bird a list of more than 80 housekeeping items, such as policies and procedures, and all have been long done.

She’s proud of the township’s “very solid” council-staff working relationships that have fostered progress, collaboration and modernization as part of a team. She joked a well-worn phrase she uses, “we all need to concede something for the greater good” will likely be etched on her tombstone.

She is pleased with her ability to communicate, becoming the first elected official in Haliburton County to use social media for public education and engagement.

Some of the wins have included getting the Ministry of Natural Resources headquarters at Stanhope; being asked to run federally in 2014; being part of an all-female council that made Chatelaine magazine’s top women of influence and a phone call from the prime minister.

At the County, she comments on things such as OPP billing reform, work on the rail trail and tourism director’s job, and more recently the community safety and well-being plan.

“That’s the stuff I feel best about, having had really hands-on and research-based involvement in.”