Standing in the front of the mayor of Airdrie, Peter Brown, and the Airdrie City Council, a nervous 11-year-old presents her project about the necessity of adding new lights to the play park in her neighbourhood. A year later she witnesses her proposal become a reality.
Seeing young people getting involved in making changes in their community is the high point of Brown’s mayoral career.
Even though he never intended to get into politics, three terms later, Brown takes pride in his ability to motivate the younger generation to take political action.
Brown became interested in politics by supporting political candidates by going door-to-door as they ran for office. He never saw himself as a candidate for office, but rather as “the man behind the scenes” supporting the candidate.
It was not until one of Brown’s closest friends suggested he run for mayor of Airdrie that the idea began to take hold. He announced his candidacy two weeks before the 2010 mayoral election.
“It was late August and the drop-dead date was early September, so it was very quick,” says Brown.
Although some of his colleagues discouraged him from running, saying that he was crazy for even considering it, he ignored them.
“My point is to anyone, if you really want to do something, don’t let other people’s opinions turn you off what you think you’re destined to do.”
In 2011, Brown was elected to his first term as mayor of Airdrie at the age of 48.
One of the joys of his career is interacting with and inspiring the younger generation by visiting schools and speaking at graduations.
“It’s all worthwhile because young people are the future. If you can inspire them, you can get them thinking about things, and if you can get them creating ideas, that’s what I like the most,” says Brown.
Shelly McIntosh, a friend and co-worker of Brown’s before he became mayor, describes him as someone who is passionate about the city of Airdrie.
“I think he’s a great advocate for our community. He is super passionate about Airdrie specifically, this region, this province and Canada,” says McIntosh.
As a frequent speaker at Airdrie high school graduations, Brown’s message to the graduates is to get involved in the community and make a difference.
“Travel the world, experience the world, go to university, get educated, do whatever you want, but come home because our community is better with you here. Start a business, have a family, buy a house.” says Brown.
“I’m specifically saying I demand a lot of the younger generation.”
Brown encourages young people who might be interested in running for political offices in the future.
“Get your name out there, volunteer and be part of the community. Help build the community.”
Leona Esau, a current co-worker of Brown’s, finds inspiration through his vision and enthusiasm for the city of Airdrie.
“I think it goes back to his whole passion and commitment to making this the absolute best community to live in. He’s very enthusiastic about it. The level of care and attention not only to our community, but to individual residents within the community is almost electrifying and he draws you into it,” says Esau.
Brown also encourages the young people of Airdrie to become more active voters.
“Vote. It’s a 16 per cent turnout for voting here in Airdrie. That’s embarrassing. People need to get out and vote.”
The city of Airdrie has grown in the years Brown has been in office and he’s excited to see people from all over the world coming to call it home.
“We’ve become a world city, so every culture, from what I can tell, is recognized in the community now. We’re going to have more of a multicultural feel that wasn’t here 20 years ago and it’s absolutely spectacular,” says Brown.
The more diverse Airdrie becomes, he realizes the challenge of representing the best interests of all its citizens.
“I always say the toughest part about being mayor is you’re not able to please everyone. Sometimes you’re not able to please anyone. You have to learn how to live with that, but my job as mayor is to do what’s in the best interests of the majority of people who live here.”