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December 5, 2021

Neil Marks ends his career as Lismore Councillor

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Lismore Councillor Neil Marks will not be on Lismore’s next Council. Photo Tree Faerie.

Just as registrations closed for Mayoral candidates, Lismore Councillor Neil Marks began a live stream to announce that not only would he not be running for Mayor, he would also not be running for Council.

‘The reason I’m doing this video is that as of about a few minutes ago, the nomination period would have closed for this coming election for the liberal city council,’ he said on Wednesday.

‘I have decided not to run for a fourth term – 13 years certainly has been a long and wonderful journey.’

Cr Marks said it has been a journey which without the many, many people involved, wouldn’t have happened. Those people included his family and his wife Deborah in particular.

Undecided until the last minute

‘But why wait until the last minute? Well, because basically, I’ve been undecided until the last minute.

‘I’ve had a great team of people behind me who have allowed me this opportunity to be able to wait and just see how I felt. But ultimately I didn’t have the energy to continue.

The Echo spoke to Councillor Marks yesterday after the news had time to circulate.

‘I’ve had a lot of really nice phone calls from people – messages, emails. Social media on my page has been really nice. I don’t know what it’s been like on other pages. They’ll probably be cheering from the roof. But you know, it’s pretty nice. As my wife put it, it’s a little bit like a funeral, you make this decision, then people tell you all these nice things about you. It’s a little bit like a funeral, but I’m not dead. I’m not going away.’

Cr Marks said the decision was a long time in the making. ’It’s been a long time – a lot of conversations about it with a few people. It was not something that I just woke up and decided last Thursday morning kind of thing.’

‘You’re trying to do the right thing by so many people that you end up not doing the right thing by yourself.’

Freeing up 20 to 30 hours a week

Cr Neil Marks at work in Lismore Motorcycles. Photo David Lowe.

Councillors rarely get paid for all the hours they work – Cr Marks says he will be physically freeing up 20 to 30 hours a week. ‘But what it will also free up is that the moment I get out of bed, I start thinking about things that are happening with Council. I start going over things. It’s a thing that dominates you, from the moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep. It is that thing that dominates every bit of me. So I will be freeing up some mental capacity to maybe enjoy and do other things.’

Cr Marks said his first Council meeting was just the day after one of his children was born. ‘There’s a joke in our house. I’ve got a 13-year-old. He was born on the 13th and I went to my first council meeting on the 14th. It’s literally been all his life – seeing me walk out the door, going to meetings. So we kind of joke that he doesn’t remember me really being in the early part of his childhood. There may be some seriousness in that joke.

’It will be good to balance that off a bit. Deb will struggle to have the remote control taken off her when I’m home. She’s had control of that for quite some time.

‘There’s always an adjustment, but I think it’s all going to be a good thing. I’m not the sort of person that’s going to sit down on my bum and do nothing. I will just pick and choose as to what I get involved in. I’m a member of a Rotary group so it’s an opportunity to still be involved, but I’ll probably take a bit of a break.

The dark forces of social media

In his live stream, Cr Marks said that the social media world has made things change – and had a bearing on his decision. ‘There have been some other reasons behind this decision, some of them personal, some of them involving my family and some involving the social media world that is around at the moment. I couldn’t put the team that was behind me through the social media attacks.

‘I’ve had friends and business people attacked on social media because they support me. I have had family members have people front them in the street because they’re my children. That is just not good. I’ve had family members who have had people knock on their doors because they wanted to get messages to me about some vote or other that was coming up – that is not okay. That is not what should happen in our world.’

Cr Marks told The Echo that there are two well-known instigators of misinformation. ‘It can wear you out. I’m tough enough and ugly enough to look after myself in that regard, but it’s when you see it starting to affect your family, when your wife reads things about you that she knows aren’t true, and you can say as much as you like – don’t worry about it, it’s just people being dickheads, but, you know, you see the anger because you really can’t answer.

‘So you just have to turn a blind eye to it. It’s a terrible situation that is now taken as the norm. Some of the stuff that has been printed about me, it’s just complete lies and utter bullshit – I have the ability to maybe call it out a bit more now because I don’t represent anybody else other than myself. It’s just complete misinformation. But there are people in our community, and communities worldwide, that see these sorts of things and think it’s the truth. It’s not necessarily the way they talk about you, but just some of the white lies and misinformation.’

Vote under the line

While serving as Lismore’s Deputy Mayor, Cr Neil Marks MC’d last year’s Christmas event. Photo Tree Faerie.

Though Cr Marks said he wouldn’t endorse any of the candidates, he did say that he would encourage people to vote under the line.

‘Just research candidates and if you have to vote below the line, choose the people you believe, those who would make up the best council with the knowledge that you have of those people.

‘I’m now that person who has to research some of those people is to see if they could do a reasonable job. I probably will be one of those people who votes below the line, because not everybody’s group is perfect for what I believe in. Maybe it’s a bit of column A and a bit of column B, as far as the groups are concerned.

‘And see what people say about becoming mayor and what they think they can change, because sometimes, what they say and what they actually have, what their the ability to be able to do – there is a vast difference between the two.’

Some big changes are still required

Cr Marks concluded his stream by saying he wanted to thank everybody who has ever supported him and those who have ever contacted him and ever allowed him to help them through situations involving local council in the last 13 years. ‘I do wish everybody else the world of luck – we’ve got some big changes that are still required. I will continue to watch and be involved with our community for many, many years to come in many, many different ways. At this stage, it just won’t be through the Lismore City council.

‘Thank you.’

Cr Marks told The Echo that his last Council meeting coming up on Tuesday night. ‘I’ve got a few committee meetings and the like until the fourth of December, and then it’s done and dusted.’

Would he think about politics at some time in the future? ‘I don’t know. I just never say never to anything. But, what I want to do is take a deep breath and give myself some time.

‘This last five years has been hard and wearing for many different reasons. Most people know that my mother passed away and I was at her funeral three days before polling day, so, I went into this five years in a tough state of mind – but it’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to represent the community at this particular level, to be voted in and with an ever-increasing vote over the three elections that I’ve been through. It means a lot of people had a lot of belief in me and you hope like hell, you never let them down.

‘All I can do is thank them from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to do what I’ve done to the community.’


 

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