Independent candidate Sally Flannery has announced she’s ending her campaign for a seat on Lismore City Council, citing the effects of ongoing attacks and harassment.
On social media Ms Flannery said, ‘This decision does not come lightly.
‘When I decided to run, it was after watching council meetings religiously for over a year, attending briefings, reading business papers and making a really considered and thoughtful decision about whether I could balance my almost full-time work and council responsibilities,’ she said.
‘I knew there would be difficulties and negative aspects involved with running, but I didn’t expect the extremity or the emotional toll they would take.’
Attacks not just virtual
Ms Flannery said, ‘I’ve been fairly vocal about the negative aspects I’ve faced – from having my front door smashed, my mailbox stolen and my house broken into multiple times to the blatant threats, defamatory posts, being followed and even while walking down the street having someone on the phone behind me telling someone which way I was walking.
‘My work has been targeted, rumours spread maliciously (and very falsely) stating that I had an affair with someone and broke up a family which is totally false and ridiculous, as well as rocks thrown at my window and dozens of demeaning and inciting posts.
‘For everything I spoke up about publicly, there were almost daily attacking comments, phone calls, messages and more…’
Ms Flannery went on to say, ‘I wanted to stand for council to be a positive voice for change…
‘I didn’t expect the sheer viciousness of certain people and the emotional toll that would have on me also.
‘I feel like the weight of all that negativity is finally catching up with me and I’m starting to feel less happy about just going through life on a day to day basis.
‘Running for council is one thing but it feels like running for council in Lismore is like preparing for battle,’ she said.
‘What once felt exciting and inspiring now feels exhausting and daunting. The more I’ve been involved… the more I see there are inappropriate influences involved such as the socially harmful cult Universal Medicine, corporate and political influences that do not aim to represent our community, but serve their own interests.
‘I had thought I could help expose and bring light to this from inside the organisation but that’s a whole extra layer of stress and battle in itself. I am certain the harassment I have experienced is not for self-amusement of a few, but for concerning non-community-centric reasons and perhaps I’ll simply share this knowledge publicly rather than try and take it down myself from inside,’ she said.
‘The frustrating part is I am aware the harassment is to stop good people from running and I hate that it’s gotten to this point for me. I’ve also had about half of my ticket of wonderful people pull out as well because they don’t want to be similarly targeted in such a vexatious way (which I of course, COMPLETELY understand) but that makes it harder as well.’
Sally Flannery told The Echo she hopes people will consider signing her Change.org petition to Shelley Hancock, NSW Minister for Local Government, to formally investigate the toxic political situation in Lismore.
‘I hope people are not too disappointed about my decision not to run – I certainly am sad to announce it – but also acknowledge when things are too much and when I need to put my own mental health and wellbeing first.
‘I am so appreciative for all the people who have supported me to date and will be reimbursing any political donations this week.
‘I’m also MORE than happy to help anyone wanting to run – I have learnt SO much and happy to share this knowledge and support good people who feel they are in a position to run,’ she said.
‘I love our community so much and want to keep working to be a positive voice for change within my hometown, but I think doing so from outside of council is the best and possibly a more effective way for me to go.’
‘I don’t consider this the end by any means, and may run in the future, but for now it’s simply a change of path. Lismore does deserve better and I hope together we can still work towards that in some way,’ said Ms Flannery.