Long-standing Mildura Rural City Councillor Mark Eckel was this month recognised for his dedication and service to local government with one of the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) highest accolades.
Cr Eckel was presented with the MAV Victorian Councillor Service Award for 20 Years Service at a ceremony in Melbourne in front of hundreds of Council representatives from across Victoria.
Mildura Mayor Liam Wood congratulated Cr Eckel not just on the length of his service to the community, but for his strong and consistent representation throughout that time.
“Dedicating 20 years of your life to Local Government is a massive achievement in its own right, but to do so in the professional, hard-working and passionate way in which Cr Eckel has is truly remarkable,” Cr Wood said.
“During my time on Council working with Cr Eckel it’s been abundantly clear that despite serving six terms over 20 years, he’s lost none of his drive and dedication to do what’s best for our community.
“His experience in the Council chambers and working with all levels of government over those 20 years has also been invaluable to many of us as relatively new Councillors.
“And when you look back over some of the pivotal projects and initiatives he’s driven and played a major role in, which have benefitted our community in so many different ways, he’ll certainly leave a lasting legacy on the community I know he loves so much when he eventually decides to call it a day.”
Cr Eckel was first elected in 2000 and has gone on to represent his community for another five Council terms, reaching the 20-year milestone this year.
Over the course of two decades of strong and consistent representation in the Council chambers, Cr Eckel has played a key role in driving numerous important initiatives and projects for the community.
They include major community safety improvements in Mildura’s CBD through the introduction of a Council-led CCTV camera network– an initiative Cr Eckel drove for two Council terms. As part of this initiative, Cr Eckel chaired a steering committee which included representation from Victoria Police and other key agencies.
He was a very early supporter of what would ultimately become the Mildura Sporting Precinct, campaigning strongly for many years for a new home for the region’s indoor sporting user groups. His vision for the facility at the time included its current location on the corner of Sixteenth Street and Deakin Avenue as the prime location for any future facility, a vision which has now come to fruition.
As Mayor of Mildura in 2018, Cr Eckel played a key role in the early stages of the Mildura Sporting Precinct, representing Council on a trip to Canberra with then Federal Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, which was ultimately a key step in Council’s successful application for the first $10 million required to start work on the new precinct.
The veteran of six Council terms has also been a powerful figure in the push to stop gender violence in our region, bravely and very loudly championing this important message after losing a family member to domestic violence. It was largely through Cr Eckel’s efforts and passion to prevent other similar tragedies in our region that Council became a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace.
As part of this he worked closely with then fellow Councillor Ali Cupper to introduce what is now the Gender Equity portfolio – the first Victorian Council to create such a portfolio.
Cr Eckel was also a strong supporter in the Council chambers of Mildura’s riverfront redevelopment, seeing it through from inception to the current final steps with the Powerhouse Precinct.
Despite achieving so much during his term on Council, Cr Eckel said the highlight was the relationships he formed during that time.
“My most satisfying achievement has been the privilege of the community letting me represent them over so many years,” he said.
“Other major highlights have been the relationships I’ve been able to form with fellow Councillors and Council staff as well as the various local members of Parliament, regardless of their political party. It’s these relationships which I believe are the key to success in local government.
“Nothing can be achieved without cooperation and good relationships, particularly with Council management.
“For any future Councillor that comes on board, their acknowledgement of the operations of Council is a necessity in regard to being able to accomplish things for the community. Without Councillors working with management, you won’t achieve anything.”
Cr Mark Eckel Local Government terms
2000-2003 first elected for a three-year term
Was not elected 2003-2005
2005-2008 election 26/11/2005, three-year term
2008-2012, election 29/11/2008, four-year term
2012-2016, election 27/10/2012, four-year term
2016-2020, election 22/1/2016, four-year term
2020-2024, election 24/1/2020, four-year term