Mayor, Town of Morinville, President, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
photography by Curtis Comeau
Why She’s Top 40: She’s one of the youngest female mayors in Canada and advocates for all municipalities in Alberta.
Greatest Fear: “That I haven’t taken enough risks in life. Because everything I’ve done that’s worthwhile has been a risk and I feel like if you don’t take enough risks, you’ll never reach your potential.”
When Lisa Holmes was elected town mayor in 2013, she became one of the youngest civic leaders in Canada. But at 32.8 years old, she was precisely the average age of her constituents in Morinville, Alta.
Holmes herself moved to the community in 2009 with her husband (Top 40 Under 40 alumnus Thomas Holmes) and two boys, seeking a small town upbringing like she’d had in Hanna, Alta. A year later, she decided to run for town council, inspired by the volunteering her parents did in her youth: “They gave more than money, they gave time — and that’s a mantra I’ve lived by and hope to pass on to my kids.”
Three years later, she was stunned to find herself in the mayor’s seat; then-mayor Lloyd Bertschi had resigned. Paul Krauskof was appointed to the post. Krauskopf died after a battle with cancer, leaving Holmes to serve as deputy mayor. When the election was called, she threw her hat in the ring and won.
As mayor, Holmes’s biggest challenge has been managing the town’s rapid growth at a time when funding for municipal services is tight. It’s something she’s helping to change as president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, a part-time post she’s held since 2015.
Next year, the terms of both positions will end and Holmes will decide whether to run again or avoid the “fishbowl life” that comes with being a small-town mayor. For now, she’s content not knowing what the future holds: “I feel you shouldn’t seek the position — the position should seek you.”
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.