After one term on Niagara-on-the-Lake town council, Clare Cameron says she is not going to seek re-election this fall.
“It has been an absolute honour and privilege to represent the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake as your municipal councillor and deputy lord mayor,” Cameron told fellow councillors on Monday night, much to the surprise of some of her colleagues.
“I will leave this role with a very deep sense of gratitude to the thousands of people who put their trust in me to speak up for them, for their businesses and properties and families, for their fears and hopes for the future of Niagara-on-the-Lake.”
Cameron, mother of two young children and a manager for the City of Burlington, received more votes than any other candidate during the 2018 municipal vote.
On Monday night, she was lauded by her peers as a steady and rational voice in the NOTL council chamber.
She said she is most proud of her work on the draft official plan, the community centre and nursery expansion, and her advocacy for local heritage projects. She chairs the town’s municipal heritage committee.
As in life, there have been bitter disappointments throughout the past four years, Cameron said, but urged residents to embrace NOTL as a growing community and not to fear change.
“Niagara-on-the-Lake is a living, breathing and real community and that should be a fact to embrace and to work with rather than to fear. Change is hard, inevitable and healthy,” she said.
She encouraged other residents to run for election so that more voices have the chance to shape NOTL, noting being a politician should not be a full-time gig.
“Politics is not a game, it is a calling and politics shouldn't be assumed as a career,” she said.
Anyone who wishes they could be more involved with municipal affairs need only run for office, she said.
“Run. There is no perfect time to hold public office, yet it is such an important service. It requires commitment, not eternity,” she said.
“Run. Build your team and bring your new ideas. Run. Share your ideas for what Niagara-on-the-Lake can be and stick to those visions. Find your voice and use it.”
When Cameron said she wanted to make a "personal announcement" during Monday's meeting, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she worried it meant the deputy mayor would not be running again. “My fears were realized.”
During loud and anxious meetings early in the term, Cameron was always able to keep her calm and guide others, Disero said.
Although they didn't agree on all issues, “I just saw you, Clare, as a star to this town and wholeheartedly supported and endorsed your run for council,” the mayor said.
"I still respect and admire your perfect orator skills and your commitment and your thought that goes into how to make this town a better place.”
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report