THE people have spoken and long standing Nambucca Valley mayor Rhonda Hoban OAM is back for another term as leader of the council.
Like most significant events in 2021, the council elections were a bit unconventional due to COVID restrictions, taking place far later than usual.
Now it's all officially over, Cr Hoban OAM is keen to get back to work.
Eight councillors were elected after the distribution of preferences. They are James Angel, Troy Vance, John Wilson, David Jones, Trevor Ballangarry, Susan Jenvey, Ricky Buchanan and Martin Ballangarry.
"As always council's primary focus will be on our core functions, roads, bridges, footpaths and the infrastructure the community need in their daily lives," she said.
"Climate change was a hot topic with some of the other candidates at the last election, and council already has environmental programs in place; we don't set legislation though, so we intend to focus on what we can do.
"Council will continue to look at housing affordability, employment prospects and recovery for local businesses after the fires, floods and now COVID.
"Waste management will be another critical issue moving forward, as current contracts are due to expire in 2027.
"We also have a lot of projects funded by grants still ongoing, and some are in danger of going over budget so we will need to possibly reassess them."
If this happens, it could set a precedent with long term repercussions; at our first meeting of the year, I intend to put a motion forward to address this issue.- Rhonda Hoban OAM
During the final year of her last term, Cr Hoban OAM saw the opening of the new hospital, the positive resolution of the disturbance of a Gumbaynggirr gravesite and improvements to public open space and streetscape.
For the start of her new term though, she intends to raise an issue that has been ongoing for many years and could prove to be a significant challenge for council and the Valley.
"The handover of the old Pacific Highway has been ongoing for the last few years; every time it looks like it's close to being resolved another roadblock is thrown in the way," Cr Hoban OAM said.
"Council can't afford to be given sole responsibility for the maintenance and replacement of the old highway; it would be a huge burden to our ratepayers to foot the bill for such a large and expensive asset.
"If this happens, it could set a precedent with long term repercussions; at our first meeting of the year I intend to put a motion forward to address this issue."
Cr Hoban OAM will be officially sworn in as the mayor at the first meeting of Nambucca Valley Council in January 2022.
Joining her on council will be a few old faces and some new ones, but regardless of the configuration, Hoban says the council will continue to operate as it always has.
"Nambucca Valley Council has always been a collaborative council, a respectful council where every councillor can voice their opinions on matters and participate fully on every motion that comes up," she said.
"In my opinion, that's what makes our council great; it's important to have decent debate and have all voices considered, especially on divisive issues.
I'm happy to go to politicians and ruffle feathers on behalf of the Nambucca Valley, it doesn't make me popular on either side of politics but that's a role I'm happy to play for my community.- Rhonda Hoban OAM
"I know there have been several instances in the past where another opinion has changed the way an issue has been perceived and we are all the better for it."
With many unforeseen challenges over the last few years, Cr Hoban OAM has helped steer the Valley through the good times and the bad.
It's been 17 years since she was first elected to council, but she says time has only made her wiser and in no way dulled her enthusiasm for helping the community.
"I was first elected to council 17 years ago; I'm older but much wiser and I still have the same passion and enthusiasm," Cr Hoban OAM said.
"The difference is now I a broad general knowledge of council functions, responsibilities and the legislative framework we have to work within.
"I'm happy to go to politicians and ruffle feathers on behalf of the Nambucca Valley, it doesn't make me popular on either side of politics but that's a role I'm happy to play for my community."
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