Kagawong mayor values 60 years of public service
Austin Hunt first took up public service in 1953 when he was riding assistant to Lester B. Pearson
After 60 continuous years of service, the mayor of Kagawong on Manitoulin Island may hold the record for being the longest-serving municipal politician in Canada.
The Federation of Northern Ontario Mayors says it’s likely 87-year-old Austin Hunt holds the record, although the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says it does't keep track.
"I never, never planned on being here — it just happened," said Hunt, who has served as councilor as well as reeve. "I was very fortunate to be in the community I'm in; they've just accepted me during this time."
Hunt added he’s never considered leaving the Island.
"I like the rural area. I like Manitoulin. It's home,’ he said. "In a small area you know most of the people, so that's quite an advantage."
Hunt said spending his early years as riding assistant to Lester B. Pearson first inspired him to take up public service in 1953.
FONOM president Al Spacek said Hunt is now an inspiration himself — and there is much to learn from Hunt's grace and diplomacy.
"[He’s a] very even-tempered and patient gentleman and, certainly, when he speaks it's something worth listening to," Spacek said. "I notice he spends a lot of time listening as well, and that probably is one of the attributes some of us need to do more of."
As for the municipal elections looming in the fall of 2014, Hunt gives the answer he gives before every election: he's not sure whether he'll run again or not.