Lisa Post: A Breath Of Fresh Governance

From the very beginning, Lisa Post, the mayor of Orangeville, has deep roots in the community.

Some people are born leaders, committed partners with others in their community, people who want to enrich the fabric of their neighbourhoods. Others are passionate advocates for those who need a hand managing their everyday lives.

Lisa Post, mayor of the close-knit town of Orangeville, Ont., a bedroom community about a 50-minute drive north of Toronto, is a definitive combination of both, excelling at inspiring her diverse and inclusive community and nurturing its action-based neighbours-helping- neighbours mindset.

Orangeville was incorporated in 1863. In 2022, Post became just the second female mayor in the town’s 161-year history. “It was time to have a different voice and a different vision in leadership,” Post says.

Post earned her political chops at her family’s dinner table. Post’s grandfather, Alex Raeburn, a School Board Trustee and a Regional Councillor, who she credits as her inspiration, taught her the importance of community responsibility. Her mother worked for a Member of the House of Commons in Ottawa and on several political campaigns over the years. Post is a fourth-generation Orangevillian who, except for a 10- year stint in the Prairies when she was young, has spent her life in this town. Her Orangeville roots and her inherent political acumen prepared her for the leadership roles that followed.

“I went to high school here, I got married here, and had my kids (Braedon and Charley) here,” Post says. “My family talked about politics around the dinner table. Differences of opinion were always welcome in my family. In fact, we used each other’s opinions to learn and grow in ways that would help us help our community.”

Married when she was just 18 years old and beginning a family soon afterward, Post began to notice that everyday items were becoming unaffordable, and staying on budget was a hard task to navigate.

“To that end, as I got older, I wanted to be part of the policymaking decisions so that young families could be raised here and be a part of the many multigenerational fabric of families who live here,” Post says.

And so began Post’s political journey. The pushback and questions she was asked on the campaign trail were experiences she had never encountered before.

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“I was asked how I was I going to be a mother and a councillor at the same time,” Post says. “It was a big shock to me that my gender and my ability to be two things at once were being questioned; it stopped me in my tracks. I was raised in a household where women believed they could accomplish whatever they set out to do. It was a political hurdle and a mindset that I had to overcome.”

Confident in her belief that women bring a distinctive voice to the table, a different point of view to the discussion and opinions that are inclusive and thoughtful, Post continued to pursue her passion for community involvement and was elected as a town councillor in 2018.

“It was time to have a different voice and a different vision in leadership”
– Mayor Lisa Post

“We were a council of seven new members and in our second year the pandemic hit,” Post says. “We, like so many others, had huge challenges to overcome; our community really needed support during this crisis, and we were the ones who needed to make the kinds of decisions that would impact the community in positive ways.”

Post’s family members are all supportive of her political career, and they gave her their blessing in 2022 when she ran for and won the mayoralty.

“Making a decision to run for mayor was a big decision for my family,” Post says. “They were on board to help me right away, knocking on doors with me, at my side during the intensive campaign period, and ultimately with me on Election Day.”

Historically, Orangeville has always been a proudly close-knit community, and Post’s vision for the town is based on her own belief in the values of community and inclusion.

To sustain this sense of civic pride and neighbours-helping-neighbours commitment requires strong leadership, an attribute that Post manifests in her day-to-day interactions.

“Leadership to me is about vision, empathy and community togetherness,” Post says. “It is also about being transparent, confident, decisive and honest. It is about being true to my authentic self. In my role as mayor, I am responsible for bringing people together and creating viable policies that are good for everyone.”

Orangeville, which Post says she considers exceptional, “is a community where everyone cares for each other. From helping to look for a missing dog to dealing with the pandemic, we are always there for each other. And even though our population comprises 31,000 people, we still have that small-community mindset. We continue to welcome all sorts of new people, which in turn brings a renewed freshness to the area.”

A community that values arts and culture, Orangeville holds a variety of large-scale and intimate events, including the Dufferin Film Festival, the Taste of Orangeville and the highly popular Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival, which celebrated 20 years in May this year.

Post considers these events to be opportunities to bring people together, to highlight and support local musicians and enhance the cultural landscape.

While a lot of her mayoral role concerns budgeting — making sure to allocate the proper amount of money to the right resources and assets — Post is also proud of her office’s two-year-pilot environmental sustainability project, which offers free transit on municipal buses for everyone.

“One of the most challenging pieces is trying to find affordable ways for people to live in our community,” Post says. “I think of the experiences single moms have taking their young children on the bus and what policies we, as a team, can make to support women in the community, which includes affordable housing.”

One of the experiences Post loves most about her role is talking with the youth of the community, because they’re not jaded and “because they have untarnished opinions and have never had to pay taxes,” Post says, with a laugh. “They tell me what the community needs, and they are young enough not to worry about how much things cost. I try to absorb as many of their ideas as I can and then take those ideas back to Council. I encourage these young people, when they see me in town or out for dinner with my family, to come over and talk to me — they certainly don’t have to call me ̒Mayor.’ I hope that, as they get older, it encourages them to become leaders in their community. We need the next generation to be ready to lead.”

When asked to provide answers to a few rapid-fire questions, Post’s sense of humour shines through.

“I’m a politician. One-word answers are not our jam,” Post replies, with a hearty laugh.

Having said that, her quick responses show just how much she loves and respects what she is doing.

“What inspires me every day? It is anytime someone tells me they appreciate what I’m doing.”


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Cece M. Scott

Cece M. Scott