As the newly elected Kempsey Shire Council members prepare for their first meeting on January 25, the Argus reached out to the mayor and councillors to find out what their priorities were for this shortened term.
Mayor Leo Hauville said getting through the pandemic is a main priority, as well as focusing on infrastructure, financial stability and guiding the new councillors.
"The pandemic is a big disaster, in the last couple of years we have had the bushfires, the drought, and the flood in March last year. So those issues are ongoing and need attention." Cr Hauville said.
"We are looking forward to the completion in this calendar year of the Maria River Road that connects Kempsey Shire to the Port Macquarie Hastings Shire, and that is to be sealed."
Cr Anthony Patterson said continuing the growth of the shire is his main priority, and that the council had recently achieved a record amount of government grants for the Macleay, but to keep striding for more.
"I will continue working to get more employment for our shire, as we need to hold onto our youth by having a future in the valley," Cr Patterson said.
"I also look forward to working with our council general manager Craig Milburn, and our directors and managers to keep Kempsey shire council a preferred employer. It will be a challenging 3 year term with so many new councillors who will be learning the ropes."
Cr Arthur Bain said his main priorities are increasing bushfire readiness, mitigating risk, and building community resilience.
"Secondly to protect the health of our river and our Marine Environment, balancing economic development with environmental protection," Cr Bain said.
"Thirdly we need to address the lack of affordable housing in Kempsey Shire, and the inadequacy of current social housing policy. Effective community consultation, being both accessible and accountable to the residents of the shire is how we will achieve these changes."
Cr Liz Campbell said her priorities have been the same since she first ran for council in 2008.
"The effective and efficient management of our money, to develop industry and business, to look after our river roads and recreation, and to upgrade the image and appearance of the Kempsey Shire," Cr Campbell said.
She said a big priority in the foreseeable future is the Community Engagement Plan, which is currently on public exhibition at the moment.
"This is what drives everything else we do, so we have to get the vision right to create a community and organisation that we want it to be."
Cr Joshua Freeman said his main priority is to serve the residents of the Kempsey LGA.
"I have so many dreams and visions for the future of Kempsey, but I believe the best future can only be built together - as a community. As one of the youngest members on council I look forward to bringing a fresh view to local issues. One that can question, and respect what Kempsey has," Cr Freeman said.
"I think all decisions should be a conversation with the best outcome for the entire community as the goal. I believe if we as a community embrace the values of Diversity and Unity together - we can achieve a future we all want."
Cr Alexandra Wyatt said resolving and implementing the masterplan at Crescent Head was a main priority, as well as completing the sewerage system at Stuarts Point.
"It's very important to me that people have input so council can make informed decisions an set priorities, people feel heard & feedback is provided, "Cr Wyatt said.
"I will use my life experience, work expertise and networking ability to strengthen the Macleay Valley to be a thriving, healthy sustainable and vibrant community; for now and future generations,"
The Argus also contacted Cr Kerri Riddington, Cr Craigie and Cr Fergusson for comment.
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