A former 2014 Algonquin college journalism student was elected mayor of Russell Township on Dec. 15, in a special by-election following the death of Mayor Jean Paul St. Pierre.
Pierre Leroux had, until recently, been working as a city councillor for the Township of Russell, as well as attending Algonquin full time as a journalism student. Before that, he had been a volunteer firefighter for five years and worked at one of the two stores he owns, Pierre et Fils.
The by-election was announced when the incumbent mayor, Jean Paul St. Pierre, died nine days before the October municipal elections. Since there was only one other candidate running against St. Pierre, a special by-election was announced, councillor and student Pierre Leroux decided to run.
“I didn’t know if I’d won the councillor elections, (on election night) but I was already announcing my plans to run for mayor as the results were coming in,” Leroux said.
“I’d always known I wanted to run for mayor, just didn’t think it would happen this year.”
St. Pierre was always a good friend and a great co-worker to Leroux.
“He’d already mentioned he’d like me to run in the next elections, and his passing away left a big hole.”
Having always wanted to pursue a post-secondary education, Leroux joined the college in September to study journalism.
“The stores were running well, and I’d always wanted to go to college. Journalism seemed to be good fit for my political career. I’d started blogging and I enjoyed writing, so I figured, ‘why not’?”
Unfortunately, Leroux had to withdraw from the program with his upcoming election campaign.
Leroux began to get invitations to all sorts of events happening around Russell Township.
“It’s hard to find time for everything. You want to get out there, attend as many events as possible. It’s kind of like that video Jim Watson did, that parody on House of Cards,” Leroux said with a laugh.
“I had a good experience while I was there,” he said of Algonquin. “When he (St. Pierre) passed away, I contacted the teachers to find out what I could do. I could have done a few assignments here and there, but soon it was pretty clear that I wouldn’t be able to keep attending the program.”
Although his position as mayor will be demanding much of his time, Leroux believes not much will change of his family life. He has always been busy, in and out of the house with his job as councillor and his previous experiences as a volunteer firefighter.
“I had a conversation with my kids. I told them that just because their father is the mayor now, it doesn’t mean they get special privileges.”
Leroux would like to return to college one day and says that Algonquin would be his choice.
“Like I said, I had a good time while I was there, but you never know what kind of curveball life will throw at you. You just need to steer the ship the best you can.”