A distinguished Local Government career spanning 18 years by Fiona Schirmer with the Lockhart Shire Council, Corowa Shire Council and Federation Council ended last Thursday, June 29.
At the final Federation Council meeting involving Local Representative Committee members, the Howlong-based member announced her retirement and delivered some firm messages for potential candidates seeking election as councillor to Federation Council in September.
But before doing so, the former councillor, deputy mayor Fiona and a relieving mayor said it was with “a heavy heart” she will not seek re-election.
“1995 - seems like such a long time ago when I was approached to stand for Lockhart Council. The timing was a fraction early as I still had a young family but I committed to stand and do the best for my community,” she said.
“I have had the pleasure of working with amazing, professional council staff, former and present, and I will miss the interaction with them and the friendships that have developed.”
Appreciation of her family’s support, especially by husband Ian, was expressed by Fiona who then provided advice. “It is a shame that Local Government conferences are not as common these days as they form such a foundation for councillors to develop an understanding of how Local Government works for their communities, innovative thinking and to connect with fellow councillors and staff from other regions.
“Networking is such a necessity in Local Government and I have been mentored by some extremely wise and experienced councillors. I now mentor others.
“The council chambers should be made up of representatives who have read and understood the NSW Local Government Act, can focus on the whole council area, not be partial, have flexible thinking, a willingness to learn, listen to others and be supportive.”
Fiona urges all voting ratepayers and residents to “be wary of supporting those who have a destructive agenda and negative attitude towards council”. “Agree to disagree certainly, but have the right attitude to your representation,” she said.
“To quote from the Office of Local Government’s Councillor Handbook, a good working relationship between councillors, the mayor, the general manager and other council staff is fundamental to effective council.
“It has been an honour to serve terms as a deputy mayor in both Lockhart and Corowa councils, and to represent at regional and state levels in both councils.”
Federation Council’s Director Corporate and Community Services Kristy Kay said it has been a pleasure to work with Fiona over the last eight years.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Fiona and she has played an important role in supporting a number of initiatives across a range of areas and especially the community services portfolio,” she said.
“Staff have greatly appreciated her strong commitment and passion for the community.” Fiona has served with dignity and distinction.