Deputy mayor Craig Howe has announced that he will not seek re-election when ratepayers elect Clarence Valley’s next council in September.
Councillor Howe made the announcement on his Craig Howe-contact the councillor Facebook page.
He has maintained his online presence as part of his councillor role since November 2013, apart from a brief period when he closed his former page, Clarence Valley Councillor/Ratepayer Interface (unofficial).
“To anyone who is interested (probably not too many), I will not be contesting the upcoming local government elections,” he wrote.
“This has been a decision I have wrestled with over the past couple of months and there are a number of factors influencing my decision.
“NONE of which include the recent sniping from some sectors.”
When asked why he thought there wouldn’t be much public interest in his announcement, Cr Howe quipped: “Because we’re not famous. Why should we be?”
He said that his eight years as a councillor was “probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done”.
“It certainly taught me a lot about where I live and the varied places around the Clarence Valley,” he said.
“One of the reasons I decided to go early is so I’m not announcing it after the nomination period.
“Hopefully people who are considering running, who are not sure if it is worth it, might see that there are certainly a few gaps in the seats and hopefully a few of them put their hands up.
“Maybe [my announcement will] create a bit of interest, because there are some good people out there.
“It might encourage them [to run for council], I hope.”
He said that there was no personal single achievement during his eight-year tenure, rather, that the “most rewarding thing was helping people with issues that they had [with] the council”.
“Things that may seem trivial or insignificant to the majority of people can cause a fair bit of stress for other people,” he said.
Many of these ‘contacts’ came through Cr Howe’s Facebook page, which he said was an “absolutely” useful tool that “really opened up the communication lines between myself and people who did need help”.
On negative feedback or personal attacks encountered online, Cr Howe said “it was a part of the job”.
“There are going to be people who have different priorities to what I have,” he said, however, many of those conflicts were “philosophical” types of disagreements.
“I expected that would be the case when going into council, as it is with social media.”
In October last year, Cr Howe successfully put two motions to the council meeting: to investigate the viability of creating a community garden at the Townsend men’s shed – “[that] council liaise with interested people in forming a working group to progress and maintain the project”; and, “that council staff investigate and develop a policy on ‘verge gardens’ for the Clarence Valley”.
The council’s staff have yet to act on either of these council decisions, however, Cr Howe said these were things that he would “chase up before I finish in four months”.
Is there a likelihood of getting involved at any political level in the future?
Cr Howe said it was “highly unlikely” at state level, “definitely not” at federal level and, “in terms of council, you never say never, but at this stage I’m getting out, so I’m not thinking about getting back in”.
“I will miss it and wish the next and future councillors all the best,” he said.