When Corinna Smith-Gatke’s husband persuaded her to run for mayor of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, the Brockville, Ontario-based mortgage broker never imagined she’d end up winning the top job in a landslide.
Despite the surprise nature of her mayoral run, Smith-Gatke is no stranger to politics. At college, she was elected president of the student government, and her first job was on staff at Queen’s Park. And her childhood involvement with 4H and Junior Farmers of Ontario, which taught her how to run a meeting before she started middle school, imparted experience on her that she says she still draws upon today.
But local government seems to have a special place in Smith-Gatke’s heart. “I used to say that if you think government works slowly form the outside, you should see it from the inside,” she says. “The cool part [of local government] is being able to effect change quickly.”