Sasebo Mayor Norio Tomonaga with Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades at Coffs Airport.
Sasebo Mayor Norio Tomonaga with Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades at Coffs Airport. Trevor Veale

First day for new councillors

COFFS Harbour City Council's class of 2008 had their first day at school together yesterday, knowing it will be heads down and bums up for the next four years.

Experienced head prefect, mayor Keith Rhoades, and another playground veteran, Cr Bill Palmer, welcomed new councillors Kerry Hines, John Arkan, Denise Knight and Paul Templeton to their desks.

However, first-time Greens councillors Mark Graham and Rodney Degens, along with old-hand Cr Jenny Bonfield, were absent from yesterday's assembly.

The six fresh faces will pick up plenty of homework from a series of workshops on the ins and outs of local government ahead of their first council meeting on October 16.

Cr Rhoades said the makeup of the new council was 'great', and he was pleased to have three women aboard.

“I am happy there is more female representation on this council. It gives that additional input into debates and discussions,” he said.

The experienced councillors, he said, stood ready to help the newcomers.

Among the issues facing the new team were the council-controlled parts of the Jetty Foreshores, the proposed Brelsford Park cultural precinct, and the ideas promoted by the councillors during the election campaign.

Cr Rhoades later told them local government was 'a family' and a rewarding experience.

“Sometimes you will think your involvement impedes other things you do in your life but you will get the opportunity later in life to look back and say 'I was a part of the development of this great city',” he said.

“We are a community that is about working together.

“The previous council had differences of opinion but they came together and made the right decisions.”

Cr Rhoades said he would strive to help the new council blend but each of his colleagues was entitled to 'your own opinion and your own vote'.

Decisions made 'for the betterment of Coffs Harbour and the surrounding area' were the 'right decisions', he assured councillors.

Yesterday's event featured a declaration of the poll by the election returning officer, Paul Wittman.



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