Mackin making his mark as mayor of Hinton

You could say municipal politics runs in the family for Rob Mackin.
The Claresholm native grew up in a house where his dad Bob Mackin was on town council during the 1980s and served two terms as mayor.
Now, Rob Mackin is just wrapping up his first term as mayor of Hinton, but does not plan to run again.
He is searching for his next challenge, but took some time recently to look back at the journey that took him from a farming and ranching town in Southern Alberta, to an oil and gas, mining, forestry and tourism town in Northern Alberta.
Rob Mackin grew up in Claresholm, graduating from Willow Creek Composite High School in 1994 before moving on to school in Calgary where he earned a public relations degree at Mount Royal.
He then worked in real estate, marketing, and for a technology company. He travelled for awhile, and went to Africa, then spent 10 years in a variety of roles with Enmax.
Then an opportunity became available in 2010 to own and operate the Dairy Queen in Hinton. His partner had a background in the hospitality industry so this seemed to be a great opportunity.
Once arriving in Hinton, Mackin began to wonder why a community that had so much going for it – oil and gas, mining, forestry, tourism – seemed to be stagnating and staying the same size.
He began looking for statistics, facts and comparing Hinton to similar communities.
Then he started to ask questions and write letters.
“It got a lot of people re-energized to civic politics,” Mackin said.
He ran for a mayor, and was one of six new faces, out of a council of seven, elected to office.
“We were all rookies,” Mackin said.
However, he was not new to municipal politics.
“I was kind of born and bread into that mindset,” he said.
Mackin attributes that to both his dad Bob and his mom Joan Mackin.
“I grew up in a house where there was always open discussion around the politics of the day,” he said.
His dad was on town council then mayor, so Rob was comfortable with municipal politics.
He was brought up with a simple doctrine: “If you don’t like something, do something about it.”
In Grade 8 he wrote his first letter, to LeRoy Fjordbotten, the local MLA at the time.
In high school, he was concerned about cuts in the school division so, as part of student council, he hosted a community open house, inviting the trustees and the MLA.
He was following that doctrine of asking questions and standing up, and he wrote a letter.
“It stayed with me my whole life,” Mackin said.
So, as he describes it, he knew the good, the bad, and the ugly of municipal politics.
That served him well as he embarked on his new role as mayor.
He and the council came in on a mandate for change.
They had to learn quickly. The town’s chief administrative officer retired not long after the election, so council was able to bring in someone to create the culture they wanted.
The planning and development department was re-vamped. All the town’s planning documents such as the municipal development plan, land-use bylaw, and area structure plans were re-done, and new people were brought into the organization.

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