After a fifty year career in local government, Mayor Brian Petschler has decided to call it a day and not stand at the September election.
“I will leave council with a great deal of pride, having watched the extraordinary community response to the recent merger proposal,” he says.
“That response succeeded in defeating the plan to amalgamate Kiama and Shoalhaven councils.
“Without the community support and the excellent submissions made by so many of our residents, saving our unique area would have been impossible.
“I would hope that some of the people who made outstanding submissions to the Delegate will be interested in running for council. I would like to see some new blood on there.”
Ironically it was the threat of Kiama being merged with Wollongong and Shellharbour following their period in administration that first prompted him to stand for council.
Councillor Petschler says he was tempted to stay for the next term to see major infrastructure works, such as the Blue Haven Centre for Aged Care Excellence, the sale of Akuna St and Mitre 10, and the Gerringong School of Arts restoration and development, come to fruition.
“I would like to say thank you to this wonderful community for giving me the opportunity as serving as a councillor for the last eight years, the last four of which I have been Mayor,” he says.
“It has been an honour and a privilege.”
With the nomination period for potential candidates fast approaching, news is being released on the various tickets that will appear on the ballot paper on 10 September.
All of the remaining councillors, apart from Dennis Seage, are standing again (Councillor Seage has yet to make his intentions known),
In addition, former state Labor MP Matt Brown is heading a Community and Labour ticket.
While he stresses the ticket is not endorsed and its members will be free to vote independently, many of the people The Bugle has spoken to doubt that will be the case.
Mr Brown says his return to public life has been prompted by the encouragement of others for him to stand and the way the importance of local government was highlighted in the anti-merger campaign.
Someone who won’t be running is former Mayor Sandra McCarthy, despite strong rumours to the contrary. “I am still passionate about our local community and involved in lots of ways, but I won’t be standing this time” she says.