North Dundas — In October 2010 Eric Duncan became one of the youngest Mayors in Canadian history. At the age of 22 Duncan defeated the two-time incumbent North Dundas Mayor in a landslide victory getting a whopping 72% of the vote. He was previously elected as a Councillor at the age of 19. He also worked as Executive Assistant to SDSG Member of Parliament Guy Lauzon, and worked for Jim Flaherty at his Queens Park constituency office. Duncan graduated Carleton University in 2010 with a BA in Political Science. He also volunteers in his community and he was Chair of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Foundation Gala.
Mayor Eric Duncan answers five questions for the Seeker. This interview was conducted by Jason Setnyk.
1. You were one of the youngest Mayor’s ever elected in Canada, and you started volunteering at a young age. This summer you spoke to youth at Cornwall’s Rock the Vote, an event that promotes voting and volunteering amongst a younger demographic. When you speak to young people what specific message about civic involvement do you want to get across to them?
I have been fortunate to speak to many younger audiences in the past few years- high schools, universities, and even elementary students. I try to stress the importance of being involved in their communities and taking an interest in events and causes. It’s always a win-win when youth volunteer; not only are they making a difference in their community, it provides them with experience. They can use this on resumes and school applications to boost their prospects.
2. In your first term as Mayor what has been the biggest accomplishment for the North Dundas municipal government? Furthermore what is the biggest challenge facing North Dundas right now and what needs to be done to address the issue?
I am really proud of our Council and staff and what we have been able to accomplish in the past two years. A key aspect of leadership for me is consensus building and working together, and we have been able to move a lot of projects and initiatives forward because of that. At the same time, we have kept our tax increases to below the cost of living, and we are in a good shape for the future. We are getting a lot of interest from developers as a growing bedroom community of Ottawa, which is proof we are moving in the right direction. At the same time, it is our biggest challenges. It requires a lot of new infrastructure and services, which will strain our upcoming budgets.
3. Do you as Mayor of North Dundas support the Cornwall and the Counties Arts and Culture Council? How would this Arts Council be a benefit to the artists living in North Dundas? Do you foresee economic opportunities and benefits for the towns of North Dundas as a result of the services this Arts Council will provide?
Our geographic situation is unique in North Dundas because our residents often direct their energies to Ottawa when shopping, working, and for their larger arts and culture experience. I am always supportive of groups working together to be more effective and share resources and marketing. We have recently formed a local tourism, arts and culture working group in North Dundas to tackle some of local, specific issues in North Dundas as well, so I see the future being positive and progressive in our community.
4. A part of being Mayor means being a leader, and when people vote for Mayor they are essentially choosing the leader of their community. Now that you have several years of experience as Mayor, explain what have you learned about leadership that you did not know before being elected?
I have truly enjoyed the experience and I have been grateful to work with great people. You always learn a lot in a new position, regardless of your age. There are two things that I would say have stood out for me:
- Surround yourself with great people. I realized that in order to be successful, teamwork, trust, and loyalty are key traits of your colleagues. I cannot do everything myself, you need a solid group to help you out in all aspects of your life.
- Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference. For those who work around me, having a sense of humour and not taking yourself too seriously is something that makes your work and stress level manageable. There are times to be blunt and tough, but I am firm believer that you attract a lot more bees with honey than you do vinegar.
5. You are currently Mayor, however you have been active with the Conservative Party. Do you have any aspirations or have you ever considered the possibility of running Provincially or Federally in the future as MP or MPP for SDSG?
I am always honest when asked the question about my aspirations. I see myself running for a higher level of office at some point in the future. It has been a childhood dream of mine since I can remember and I am very thankful to have an amazing network of supporters. However, I never plan too far ahead as circumstances always change. I am focused on my upcoming term as Warden of the United Counties of SD&G and running for re-election as Mayor in 2014.
Thank you Mayor Eric Duncan for this interview. We wish you all the best.