A 21-Year-Old Was Elected Mayor Of A Quebec Town — Get Ready To Feel Like An Underachiever

She opened up about her journey from an aid for seniors to the chief executive of her town.

Senior Editor
A 21-Year-Old Was Elected Mayor Of A Quebec Town — Get Ready To Feel Like An Underachiever

Warning: you're about to feel like an underachiever. At just 21 years old Isabelle Lessard has, according to reports, become the youngest woman elected mayor in the history of Quebec.

Lessard's ascension into the highest office in her small Nord-du-Québec town of Chapais was all but assured after her opponent dropped out of the race.

She told Narcity Québec that while she had always had an interest in running for office, she attributes her rise at such a young age to newfound confidence to seize key moments. It was also the culmination of a personal journey.

"It was really the opportunity that presented itself because as of the day before the close of nominations, no one had run for mayor yet," she said.

"People lost interest and at one point the thinking was pretty simple. I said to myself, 'someone has to do this, people have to step up, people have to get involved.' And if we're always waiting for others to do it for us, when do we get to be the ones to step up and do it?"

But Lessard admits she wasn't always such a go-getter.

"In high school, with studies and everything, I had a lot of anxiety, it was not easy."

"Then recently, in the last year, I've been working really hard on myself to feel better and be better about myself."

As for her constituents' reactions to her win, the new mayor said that in a town where everybody knows everybody, most are happy to see her represent them.

She also says she understands the criticism about her age and level of experience. She's eager to not only prove herself but also become an example of youth leadership.

"People had concerns like, 'she's a woman, she's young, it was done quickly, does she have the skills?'"

"But at the same time, these are questions that are legitimate I think, because yes indeed, it's true that I'm young, no I don't have any previous political experience, but it's all things that are developing and I really trust that it's going to go well."

She said she feels the pressure to perform well, "but at the same time, I have enough confidence in myself and the people around me that it doesn't keep me up at night. It's all qualities that make me a good leader. I'm going to have missteps, it's going to happen, but I think I have the qualities to at least start well and be successful in many places."

In addition to plans to push forward development projects, attract entrepreneurs and build civic pride, Lessard wants to make the local government feel more accessible.

"What's also very important is that people have a voice and that voice is heard," she told Narcity Québec.

"So I focused a lot of my short campaign on being accessible to people, being available to people, and working with people."

"For me, I want that to be something that is put forward more and more."

Her advice for people thinking about going into politics? "Dare to go forward. Because at the end of the day, we are the change," said the mayor with passion."

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.