INNISFAIL – Donnie Hill is not about to just fade away.
The 29-year-old Innisfailian and one-term councillor who was defeated in the Oct. 18 general municipal election is already determined to serve the community the best way he knows how. In the meantime, he concedes to a higher power – the people – who made their choice on election day.
“At the end of the day we need to remember that Innisfail has spoken. They have selected these councillors because they feel they are the best fit for our community, so we need to focus on the needs of change,” said Hill.
“They have found councillors who represent their needs. The council may be very different but I think our needs are very different as well. I think they are matched up quite perfectly to address the challenges we have now.”
Hill, who served council as the town’s youngest ever to be elected, garnered 827 votes on Oct. 18, which placed him in eighth place for councillor candidates, and 96 votes behind Cindy Messaros, who claimed the sixth council seat.
As for the result that ended his bid for re-election, he cites the local controversy over COVID vaccinations, and the many qualified new candidates that entered the council race, notably Jason Heistad, a past three-term councillor, and Janice Wing, whose impressive corporate governance background in the non-profit and academic worlds are unparalleled.
“It’s anyone’s game. I was 150 votes away from being right in the running but when we have 14 people running it’s very tough, and Innisfail at the end of the day has picked a very strong council and look I forward to hopefully being part of the next council they select,” he said, conceding his highly publicized criminal legal problems may have also hurt his chances of being re-elected.
Last August, the Crown withdrew charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement, assault and criminal harassment against Hill before the matters even went to trial in Red Deer’s Court of Queen’s Bench, or even before they went to a preliminary inquiry in provincial court to determine whether there was enough evidence for a properly instructed Queen’s Bench judge and/or jury to weigh the evidence.
“I did think that played a factor, yes,” said Hill. “Unfortunately, the fact that things were dismissed and proven to be not true . . . of course it played a factor for sure. There’s no question that people were concerned or questioned about those things. I was prepared for that outcome, and like I said, I worked through the process.
“I’m standing here as someone who is not convicted of anything, and it was disappointing that people still clung to that and they tried to slander me in ways that weren’t fair. But I can’t control people and I can only control myself, and I am going to continue serving the community the best I can.”
Hill said he’s already reached out to local service clubs, including the Lions, Rotary and Kinsmen, to see where he would be the best fit.
He is a sponsor for the new Napoleon Lake Disc Golf Course at Centennial Park, and would love to be part of the planned creation of a second nine-hole course.
“Basically, just to try to find where I can serve a need for the community in the next four years until there’s another election and I will definitely be putting my name forward for the next election but I want to stay in tune with the community and help out where I can,” said Hill, noting the town is facing big challenges ahead, including promoting and managing growth, keeping its amenities in tip-top shape and perhaps most importantly, forging ahead through COVID.
“I think that is going to be one of the biggest challenges, re-stimulating Innisfail to bounce back from the harmful effects of COVID,” he said.