Saturday, May 25, 2024

Kempsey pays tribute to departing councillor

Kempsey Shire Council has paid tribute to departing Councillor and former Mayor, Liz Campbell, who is retiring from local government after 14 years with the Council.

Councillor Anthony Patterson said it was with sadness that Kempsey Shire Council chambers would soon be without Cr Campbell.

“Liz’s vitality, vision, political savvy, collaborative style, sound leadership and stylish presence will be sorely missed but not forgotten,” said Cr Patterson.

“I first met Liz when we both set out advocating for a safer community a number of years ago, speaking together in halls all over the Macleay. Her passion for our community was very contagious and one of the main reasons why I set out to be a community representative, a Councillor.

“Liz was, and is, my inspiration and has always been there for me for advice and support. I’m very proud to call you my friend, Liz.”

Cr Campbell was first elected to Kempsey Shire Council in 2008 and served two years as Deputy Mayor before being elected Mayor in 2011.

In 2012, she became the first popularly elected Mayor in the Macleay Valley and was re-elected as Mayor in 2016 for a second four-year term that was extended to December last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Liz’s dedication and work ethic throughout this time have been exceptional. Her loyalty and commitment to the Kempsey Shire community are steadfast, and she has worked tirelessly 24/7 to improve the quality of life for our people in the community across all facets of the shire,” said Cr Patterson.

She not only served on Council but volunteered her time and energy to many service organisations within the Macleay Valley, he said.

Cr Campbell held executive positions with the Macleay Valley Business Chamber and her dedication to Rotary also saw her awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Medal.

Liz was elected to the Country Mayors Executive in 2017, and her longstanding support for the Macleay Valley Mustangs and Macleay River Historical Society saw her invited to be their respective patron. Until recently, she was Chair of the Australia Day Committee and Chair of the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation.

“Within her role as Mayor, many of the people with whom Liz came into contact she had known for many years or even a lifetime. Her relationship with the local community was quite ‘personalised’ and she was often heard to say that ‘the Macleay Valley community is my community’,” said Cr Patterson.

“She was fierce in her defence of the Macleay and strived to build a community that was inclusive, where everyone – regardless of their background, wealth, race, culture, religion or age – could feel that they belonged. Yet she was able to walk a fine line that embodied this close connection while still maintaining good governance and impartiality that in her role as Mayor she knew was essential.

“One of Liz’s great gifts was, and is, her capacity to build relationships with people across all walks of life and her ability behind the scenes with all levels of government, business, community groups and public service organisations to make things happen. This gift delivered tangible improvements to the services and facilities our community now receives that greatly benefit how we live and work,” he said.

Her leadership in times of bushfire, flood and drought was inspiring, said Councillor Patterson.

“She tirelessly lobbied state and federal governments to raise awareness of our plight and for the funds to help rebuild homes and community infrastructure destroyed and damaged in these disasters. But she also generously gave up her time with great compassion to local people who had lost so much.”

“I can’t let it pass by not mentioning her number one supporter, her husband, Ray, who has been there by her side all the time, often commenting fondly that he was ‘the Mayor’s handbag’.

“Liz, on behalf of Kempsey Shire Council and the wider community, our heartfelt thanks for all that you gave and our admiration for all that you achieved over the past 14 years. You have set the mayoral standard and benchmark that we can only aspire to. 

“The Macleay Valley, your community, that you love so much is a far better place because of you. We wish you and Ray the best possible future, for you have given us – your community, the community you love – everything you have.”

Watch the full tribute at Council’s YouTube link.

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