Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

McMurray Musings People of Note - Mayor Melissa Blake

When I first arrived in Fort Mac our mayor was sort of what you'd expect in a northern, oilsands industry-dominated  region. It was a man, of course, a bit older, and really the person you might imagine would be in charge of such a city. I had nothing against this individual, but it did seem to me that the region needed someone a bit younger, a bit more vibrant, and with a bit more vision - and that person quickly appeared in the form of Melissa Blake.

I'll be honest - I don't know Mayor Blake personally. I've had the pleasure to meet her on a couple of occasions, and always found her to be personable and gracious (particularly to my kid, which always pleases any parent). I've watched her career with great interest, though, and I've become a huge fan. It's not that she's never made mistakes, as we all do. It's just that I think she represents our area very well, and she turns some of the assumptions about Fort Mac on their head.

I bet sometimes when she is introduced to people as our mayor they are surprised. Why? Well, because she is young, beautiful, intelligent and female. I'm guessing most people outside Fort Mac assume we would have an older man as our mayor, and yet here we are with Melissa. I love that alone quite frankly, as it shows the world that we are quite a bit more complex than they may believe.

I think Melissa Blake is a person of vision. I think she brings an excitement about the region to the table, and I think she truly cares for the RMWB and her constituents. I believe she is absolutely the right leader for this phase of our region's life (as I believe we are in the midst of making the leap from a town mentality to that of an urban centre). She somehow manages to balance the needs and concerns of industry with those of citizens, and she has managed to guide the city through some turbulent times, too.

This a challenging time to be the mayor of any city in Canada, and perhaps here more than anywhere else. We face some unique challenges in Wood Buffalo, but we also have some unique opportunities. The leadership of this city has the chance to take this current boom and help the region to unfold in a way that benefits everyone and prepares us for the future. I think under Melissa's guidance this will be a very successful process as I believe she has all the skills and passion required to get the job done, and the  vision to see what is possible.

Melissa is a role model for every young person in this city, especially the young women. She is showing them that you can be both a beautiful woman and an intelligent leader. She is showing them that you can take assumptions and turn them upside down. Her enthusiastic belief in this city is visible at every public event at which she appears, and that is contagious to everyone, but especially our youth.

So, people, I'm a fan of Melissa for so many reasons. I'm absolutely proud to have her represent the RMWB, and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future. All I can say is that if it is anything like what she has accomplished in the past then we should expect some great things. I can't wait to see it, Fort Mac.

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