Eastman sees first female mayor in town’s history

By Michael Boriero Local Journalism Initiative

Nathalie Lemaire became the first female mayor of Eastman last week, after Yvon Laramée stepped down from the position suddenly at the end of July, citing personal and medical reasons.
Lemaire has been on the municipal council for 12 years. The vote took place last Monday during the town’s public assembly, where she won over her opponent by a single vote. She told The Record that she is proud to join the long list of female mayors in the region.
“All of the villages around Eastman have female mayors like Orford, Austin, East Bolton, they are all female mayors, so I’m very proud to join them and I hope they will have more in Quebec,” said Lemaire.
She noted that there has not always been equal or fair representation in politics, especially at the municipal level. It’s normal to see women on council’s these days, Lemaire explained, but the situation was completely different 50 years ago.
Women deserve a place everywhere in society, she added. Lemaire was inspired to run for council because of several influential female politicians who paved the way for her in the Eastern Townships. She is also deeply connected to Eastman.
Lemaire has been living in the small town for 42 years. When she was elected to council, she turned her focus to environmental issues, arts and culture, and promoting literature. She has also been volunteering at the local library for the past 30 years.
“For me, culture and literature is very important in life and I know in Eastman it is very important, too, so I’m very proud of it,” said Lemaire, adding that she is still the vice-president of the Réseau BIBLIO de l’Estrie, which is responsible for libraries in small villages.
Lemaire does not spend every waking minute discussing politics, though. She feels very close to nature, and she makes an effort to go hiking whenever she has some time to unwind. Her kids are all adults now, so she tries to find ways to stay busy and active.
It is her love for nature that led her to take responsibility of the environment committee in Eastman. During her time on council, the town has adopted many by laws to protect its lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes, she said. There is a new rule almost every year.
“In Eastman it’s not possible to build anything on those lands and I’m very proud of that, and we want to protect our lakes and river banks,” said Lemaire.
The town implemented strict rules about dumping water from private lands and into public lakes. The council also built a boat washing station last year, and there are several laws in place to protect the landscape and environment from development projects.
Lemaire and her colleagues are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of life in Eastman. It is never finished, she said, there is always work to be done. Lemaire added that these rules are even more important with so many newcomers in the town.
But while she has recently taken over a new position, as head of Eastman, it could be short- lived. Lemaire has not yet decided whether she will run in the upcoming municipal elections in November. It has a lot to do with motivation, she noted, after more than a decade on council.
“First, I did not know if I wanted to go back for another four years. I’m not sure if I will do it for personal reasons. It’s not because I don’t like the job, it’s just after 12 years I’m not sure if I’m enthusiastic enough,” said Lemaire.
She noticed many of counterparts in other towns face a lot of pressure due to social media. And in the past few months, Lemaire has seen several mayors announce they are unlikely to run again, which has made her question whether it is the right fit for her.
In the meantime, however, she is ready for the challenge at hand. She wants to make Eastman a better place to live, and attract more people to the area. The town’s vitality and success has always been one of her top priorities, and she has no intention of changing her mindset.

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