Cr Cate Coorey, Byron Shire Council
Among the reasons Simon Richardson gave for his retirement from the mayoralty was the mental health pressure that the role engenders. I sympathise with him on this. Politics is a grubby business and local government is no exception – councillors are perhaps more accessible here than in large urban electorates, and the harassers, bullies and critics are people you see in the street. Added to that are the social media cowards (and the letter writers to The Echo) who say things in print that they would never say in person. Simon achieved a great deal for this Shire and I hope he can retire to a less stressful post-Council life.
A new group of people are stepping up to the plate this September and I am disheartened, but not entirely surprised, to be hearing falsehoods spread about one of the candidates, Matthew O’Reilly. It is not the first time this has happened – lies about him and his family circulated when he stood up against a very unsuitable development. The lies were easily disproven, but mud sticks. I consider Matthew a friend and a person of integrity and I believe he will make an exceptional councillor. If he, or anyone else, were to baulk at running for Council I would not be surprised. Councillors get paid around $20,000 per year (before tax) – we don’t do the job for the money because it certainly doesn’t cover the hours involved or the personal cost. The campaigning for Council hasn’t even begun yet; I ask that people don’t believe everything you hear and remember to be kind to those who might represent them in the next Council.