An Orillia native who spent the past 20-plus years working in the United States has thrown his hat into the ring for the mayor’s position in the upcoming municipal election.
Don McIsaac and his wife moved back to Orillia in January, after working much of his professional career in numerous parts of the U.S., including Texas, Minnesota, Georgia and Tennessee.
A chartered professional accountant, McIsaac held a number of executive-level positions for various organizations during his time stateside. To name a few, he served as chief financial officer with Cirrus Aircraft and Alimak Hek Inc., as director of the Duluth Airport Authority, and he currently serves as treasurer of the (U.S.) National Aviation Hall of Fame.
However, the 66-year-old said he has always maintained ties with Orillia and chose his hometown as his place to retire.
“My time in the States was certainly an interesting time, but Orillia has always been on my mind. I’m born and raised here,” he told OrilliaMatters. “I retired last September. My wife and I had a choice of where to live, and I’m passionate about Orillia, so we chose (here).”
McIsaac highlighted numerous issues he would like to address if elected.
“If you look at a one-year, five-year, 10-year horizon, in the first year Orillia needs a new plan. We don’t have a plan in place that looks at the infrastructure we have, the industrial acreage we have, and what our needs are in the future,” he said.
"The province is the ultimate arbiter of all things municipalities have, so they will force one, and it’s better for us to develop one and work with Oro-Medonte and Severn to do it.”
He also noted Orillia is need of a new hospital.
“The hospital we have now has served us very well, but … we need to make sure we get that properly organized,” he said.
McIsaac also highlighted environmental issues, the possible annexation of land from surrounding townships, and mental health and addiction issues.
“I think we’re at a critical juncture in the trajectory of Orillia’s growth, and I want to be involved in that and contribute as much as I can,” he said.
Although a relative newcomer, McIsaac’s roots in Orillia politics run deep.
Both his mother and father served as mayors of Orillia. His father, Burt McIsaac, was the first mayor after Orillia was incorporated as a city in 1969. His mother, Pat McIsaac, was mayor in the 1980s, prior to current Coun. Ted Emond’s tenure in that position.
“(My parents) certainly gave me a really good understanding of the process and the amount of work involved because I lived through it with them,” McIsaac said. “Orillia is home … I’ve talked to a lot of people over the past months and years about this sort of endeavour, and I have more than 100 people who stepped up and signed my nomination papers.”
Instead of running to be a councillor, McIsaac thinks he “can make the most difference as mayor.”
He stressed he is not running against anyone or anything in the upcoming election.
“I am not campaigning against any one thing. I’m campaigning for several things, and I think there’s a difference,” he said. “I’ve spoken to the (current council), and I think that they’ve worked hard. They’ve done good things. I have not agreed with everything they’ve done ... but I think they’ve all worked hard.”