YESTERDAY marked what some could say was Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall’s “last day on the job”.
While that’s not quite true, Mr Marshall will stay on in a caretaker role until his successor is elected, at the next Gunnedah Shire Council meeting on Wednesday, September 19.
When that election takes place the door will close on Mr Marshall’s nine-year career in local government, a decision he made initially with mixed emotions but is now comfortable with.
Instead, he will head up the hill to Armidale to further his studies of law and economics at UNE.
Over the next fortnight Mr Marshall said his foot would not be taken off the accelerator.
“I have meetings and appointments back-to-back,” he said.
“I will keep working the same way I have been for the last four years.”
When reflecting on his time as a councillor yesterday, Mr Marshall remembered some of the controversies, disagreements and the many highlights he had seen as the shire “came of age”.
“It has been an enormous honour and privilege to serve the people of Gunnedah, particularly in the last four years,” he said.
“What you achieve in council of course, depends on what you are prepared to put into it.
“If you are prepared to work for the community and with your fellow councillors and staff, the rewards are enormous.
“But if you sit back and are content to simply bask in the glow of being elected, you will achieve nothing.”
Mr Marshall said there had obviously been times of disagreement on council, highlighting the controversial char plant project and the saga of the Australia Asia Flight Training school, as prime examples.
He said both issues created an enormous amount of tension and spirited debate.
“At the end of it all though, councillors remained civil and we got on with the job,” he said.
“We didn’t allow differences in opinion to fracture council and that is the mark of a mature organisation and it was a credit to all councillors concerned.”
Looking to the years ahead Mr Marshall said the council would “face some challenges”, finance and governance among them.
Mr Marshall said finance and governance would now be critical issues facing the new council.
“We are in the top 25 per cent of councils in NSW in terms of financial sustainability and we can feel confident with the financial plans that have been adopted,” he said.
“In saying that, the new council and council staff must be mindful of every step they take and keep the community well-informed about future challenges.
“Everyone has to realise Gunnedah is growing and maturing and must adapt to change.
“(We are) now a bustling hive of activity – we’re the second-fastest growing community in the New England North West – and it is due in no short measure to what has been a proactive council.
“I see the challenge for the new council is to be bold enough to make those decisions that will keep Gunnedah ahead of the pack – one of the leading rural shires in NSW.”