By Jackson Russell
Unfinished business is a common theme among Mitchell Shire councillors as they weigh up whether or not they will run in the upcoming council elections on October 24.
The North Central Review spoke to all nine current councillors to find out whether they planned to stand for another council term.
Seven of the councillors indicated they would stand again, with two undecided.
Former mayor Bill Chisholm said he was still thinking, but was leaning heavily towards standing again, and named roads and emergency management as two issues he wanted to continue working on.
“Our road funding from this year to last year has increased by roughly $100,000 and that’s chicken feed,” he said.
“We’ve got an asset worth $225 million and rural residents are paying a lot for their rates and getting virtually nothing in return.
“The other big one is in emergency management and bushfires and there’s a whole raft of things that need to improve in that area to try to get better outcomes for everyone.”
Another former mayor and fellow North ward councillor, Rhonda Sanderson, is planning to wait until September before making a decision after weighing up the pros and cons.
Fiona Stevens is planning to stand again in the north ward after what she called an ‘interesting, challenging and educational’ four years.
Cr Stevens said it was an interesting time for the shire with the growth of the south but also the revitalisation of Seymour.
“There are a few unfinished projects I’ve been involved in that I would like to see to completion,” she said.
“A couple in the Seymour area are the unsafe crossing of Whiteheads Creek on Delatite Road, the restoration of the Old Goulburn River Bridge along with a master plan to enhance the river frontage precinct.
“We have challenges of growth in the south, but equally we have a lot of work to do for the central and northern rural components of our shire.”
Central ward councillor Annie Goble is planning to throw her hat into the election ring again, in order to see a list of projects completed.
Cr Goble listed the sporting precinct in Kilmore’s west and the western loop of the Kilmore bypass as two projects she would like to see finished over the next four years.
“The revitalisation of Kilmore and its historic precinct, I’d really like to see that finished because the area here in central ward has so much potential and I’d like to see the new bus route,” she said.
“Shire-wise, the revitalisation of Seymour, I’d like to see the Old Goulburn Bridge rebuilt so people can cross the river and I’d like to see the development of a state of the art recycling centre that gives really substantial job opportunities in the south.”
‘Unfinished business’ for councillors
Fellow central ward councillor Bob Humm said he was tempted to run again for his 11th year on council and pass on his experience.
Cr Humm said there was still much to be done in Mitchell Shire such as new sporting facilities in Kilmore including a new precinct on Butlers Road and the redevelopment of the JJ Clancy Reserve pavilion.
“That, the main street of Kilmore and there’s still some road networks like the High Gate Road areas and the bypass. They’re the incentives of wanting to be part of it,” he said.
“I’ll play the same bat I’ve played the whole time which is to make sure recreation, youth and the townships are catered for.”
Deputy mayor David Atkinson has not yet made a decision and is waiting until closer to the election.
Cr Atkinson said council took a lot of time away from his family.
“I’m getting a little bit of pressure from the family not to run again,” he said.
“It takes a fair bit of time. I spend over 100 hours a month on it, over 25 hours a week, even in lockdown.
“I’m enjoying it but it’s like any job, you have good days and bad days.”
Mayor David Lowe, a south ward councillor, said he was planning to stand to see through the construction of the Watson Street-Hume Freeway diamond interchange.
“I promised that I would run until I saw the ramps built on Watson Street and I think we’re very near to getting those but they’re not there yet,” he said.
“I’m keen to keep pushing and I still want to see the road to Beveridge and sporting facilities in the south built.
“There’s stuff to do in Seymour and Kilmore too. There’s still unfinished business and I’d like to take it a few more steps forward in terms of the development of the shire.”
South ward councillor Bob Cornish will put up his hand again to help ensure the growing needs of the south ward are met, along with greater mental health services across the entire shire.
“Some things haven’t changed at all, like roads and footpaths, they’re always high on the agenda,” he said.
“With COVID-19, there’s a lot of anguish and mental health issues out there. People are scared in the current climate and I’d like to help with the mental health issues attached to it.
“I want to keep pressure on the state and federal governments to provide mental health facilities shire-wide.”
Fellow south ward councillor Rob Eldridge said while there were a few things he needed to weigh up, he wanted to stay on for another four years and hoped to make his decision by early August.
“There’s work we’ve started that I’d like to finish and it would be interesting to ease in a new CEO,” he said.
“I’d like to start moving on the Greenhill acquisition and get that running. That decision was made by the council before us and the master plan is being worked on so I’d like to see that through.
“It’s an exciting time but a challenging time. Over the next four years, we have the chance to forge the lives of 200,000 new residents. Once the planning’s finished, that’s probably 75 per cent of what’s going to happen.
“I want to be involved in that planning and make sure the south has the facilities and open space we need.”