When Cam Guthrie was 17, he called a sitting city councillor to ask how he could get involved in local politics.

He didn’t get the answer he was expecting.

“She reminded me that I had to be 18,” Guthrie recalls.

Undeterred, the teenage Guthrie found his own path into the political arena – first through student government, then on a grassroots level.

For a time, he mulled a career at the provincial or federal levels, before deciding it wasn’t for him.

“Some of the partisanship … didn’t fit well with me,” he says.

“I felt like the municipality was where my head and my heart belonged.”

In 2010, Guthrie was elected as a councillor representing Guelph’s Ward 4, which he shared with Gloria Kovach – the same councillor he had asked for advice more than 20 years earlier.

In October, the city’s voters handed Guthrie a four-year term as their mayor, with a narrow majority of all votes cast.

He was sworn in at the beginning of December, and has been busy ever since – meeting with businesses, non-profits, other levels of government and other outside organizations, as well as employees within city hall.

“It’s been great. The staff here have been really welcoming,” he says.

With introductions out of the way, Guthrie plans to get down to business early in 2015.

One of his main goals, he says, will be to improve efficiency at city hall.

“If we do a service in this city, let’s find out the best, most cost-effective way to handle that service – if we should be the ones even providing it,” he says.

“If efficiencies are found, it might not be on the front page of the news – but there’s more money left in the pockets of the taxpayer.”

Other priorities described by the new mayor include holding tax increases to the rate of inflation or less, providing more transparency, and supporting the downtown while “not ignoring” other neighbourhoods.

He also wants to ensure that the city is welcoming to businesses – something symbolized by a shovel he keeps in his office, waiting for the right opportunity.

“I’ll be happy to dig the first hole,” he says of anyone looking to move their business to Guelph.

Aside from his duties at city hall, the 39-year-old Guthrie spends time as the drummer in a band – a role he sees as similar to his full-time job.

“I have to be on time, a leader, directing the band, making sure things are going in the right pace,” he says.

Dubbed Fitness Club Fiasco, the band plans to release their first album in early 2015.