Melodie Stol was a stay-at-home mother of two young children and a self-confessed “political junkie” when she first ran for council.
Those kids are now 20 and 24 years old and the town of 2,001 she first represented is now one of Canada’s fastest growing communities and just a few dozen people shy of 10,000.
Stol has loved her political career, but after 19 years — 10 as mayor — she has chosen not to run again. She recently landed a new job and did not want to have to split her commitment between what amounts to two full-time jobs, she explained on Friday.
“I felt I wanted to do the best I could in one thing,” she said.
She does not hesitate when asked what she will miss the most.
“It’s not a cliché to say that I’m going to miss the people.”
They include town staff, six councils and numerous volunteers and other community builders who have helped make the town what it is today.
“I get a lot of energy from working with people who have a common goal of making Blackfalds our home and making our home the best it can be.
“It’s going to be a lot for me to miss.”
The achievements on her watch have been many. She takes pride in the town’s successful 10-year initiative to encourage the RCMP’s Red Deer Rural Detachment to set up in a new headquarters in town joining local officers.
Abbey Centre, the town’s centrepiece recreation facility, is another high.
“Who couldn’t be proud of the Abbey Centre, but I’m most proud of how the whole community rallied around the Abbey Centre.”
The ongoing development of All-Star Park, two new schools and an upcoming ribbon cutting for a new Parent Link centre also make her list. Another 10-year project is coming to fruition with the province announcing funding for a regional sewer line, which will be a huge economic development benefit.
“Every term, every piece of my council career, there’s always been something that I can be so proud of.”
Stol said she was first attracted to council by the promise of making her home town a better place.
To do that, she had a game plan from which she never wavered.
“I’ve never torn down anything in order to build us up. You have to build up. You cannot blame others in the past or get really negative.
You have to have a really positive vision and work towards that goal.”
While she may be on the political sidelines, Stol said she will still remain deeply involved in her community.
“I’ll still a resident of Blackfalds and I’ll still be Blackfalds biggest supporter in everything I do.”