Kathryn Bell’s initial reaction to being elected as one of the 11 new MidCoast Council councillors was relief, quickly followed by excitement.
Cr Bell brings experience to the role as she a councillor on the former Greater Taree City Council for nearly eight years.
While there are others with experience joining her on the council, she is pleased to see the “new blood” of first-time councillors in the mix.
“I think Council needs new fresh ideas as well as experience, in particular about local government, so it’s good both are in the make up,” Cr Bell said.
“I think it’s a good make up. It’s a good mix of area, of former councils in particular. That’s really important for this inaugural council.
“There’s six men and five women. There’s six from former Taree area, four from former Great Lakes area and one from Gloucester - that’s quite good as well in mix. And age as well, age and experience.”
Cr Bell sees “the tyranny of distance” in engaging with the entire area as being one of the major challenges to be faced for the new council as it covers more than 10,000 square kilometres.
She also sees re-inventing community consultation and engagement with the community as being a primary task of the new council.
She believes respect is paramount if the council are going to work well together – respect for each other and respect for others’ ideas.
“I’m really hoping that those elected will be emotionally mature and adult to put the former three councils behind them - that is no more,” Cr Bell said.
“Leave them at the door or at home, and come to a meeting with a mature attitude to deal with the issues and get the best that we can possibly get for our community.
“And that’s one massive big community with a whole lot of localities and individual identities that make it – that’s actually what makes it special.”
“This council has a major opportunity. I hope we all grab it with both hands, to promote the whole of MidCoast and to dream big and get big results for the whole community. We’ve got big opportunities for our future.”
Cr Bell says she is considering running for mayor and believes there are a number of others who will also be standing.
“It remains to be seen which way it goes,” she said.