Councillor exit interview: Marianne Wilkinson retires from council after decades in public service

Outgoing Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson (centre) accepts a photo as a farewell gift from Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Steve Kanellakos at a ceremony before council on Nov. 28.

After over four decades as mayor and councillor of Kanata, and for Kanata North post-amalgamation, Marianne Wilkinson is saying goodbye to political life, but believes she leaves her ward in very capable hands.

She was first elected 49 years ago on the council of March township. Following the incorporation of the city of Kanata, she served as mayor from 1978-1985 and then as a councillor from 1991-1994. After amalgamation, she ran in 2006 for her seat in Kanata North and has held it ever since.

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Now, Wilkinson is set to leave city hall after electing to retire and not run in this past election. Though her vote won’t count at council anymore, she is far from finished working in the community she has represented for so many years.

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Global News had the opportunity to sit down with Wilkinson and reflect on her time as a municipal politician and talk about what’s next for the “Mother of Kanata.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What’s next for Marianne Wilkinson?

I’m getting back into doing community things. I’ve been 50 years living in Kanata now. I’ve spent 21 of them doing community work and 29 on councils. I’m going to be the warden of our church so I’ve got quite a lot to do there. I also have to write the stories of Kanata before I forget them all. There’s a lot of stories that have never been written down.

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So there is obviously a lot left in your ward left to be done and you helped with your successor’s campaign, Jenna Sudds. How confident are you that your ward has been left in good hands?

I’ve been working with Jenna for a long time. She was hired to be the staff person in Kanata when I formed the business association and she did a fantastic job there so I encouraged her to run. I just had a meeting with her to start going over a lot of things and give a lot of background information so that she won’t be starting completely from scratch. She knows if she has a question she can call me. I’m going to let her do her own thing, of course. I want this community to be well run and she can do that.

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So, looking forward, what are you going to miss most when it comes to being a councillor?

I’m not going to miss having to come to city hall. I will miss the ability to sometimes make a difference in a development by standing up for the public at a place where I can actually have a greater level of influence. I will not miss the bureaucracy of it and how that works. I’ll miss some of the people here, both staff and council members because it’s an interesting group to work with and you can’t get anything done without working with other people. As long as I know there is someone running it who can do a good job then I can relax and retire.