Introducing Mayor Phillip Silver
IF PHILLIP SILVER hadn't submitted a DA to Ballina Shire Council on behalf of the Apex Club in 1990, he may never have entered local politics.
“When I was pleading the case at council, it introduced me to local government,” he said.
“I thought, I can't think of a better way for a community to organise itself.”
While it took five years for Cr Silver to become a Ballina councillor after his submission, when he got on the council, he didn't leave.
Cr Silver was elected by council vote to the position of mayor in 2002, and this week he became the first popularly elected mayor of Ballina.
Cr Silver was born and grew up in Broken Hill before moving to Sydney for high school.
At 18, during a surfing trip, Cr Silver was involved in a motor vehicle accident which left him a paraplegic.
“That was pretty tough for an 18-year-old,” he said.
His injuries inspired a career in accountancy, and led to jobs at Citibank and the NSW Treasury.
During the mid-1980s, Cr Silver realised his most valuable resource was time, and that he didn't have enough of it.
Having spent numerous family holidays in Ballina, Cr Silver said a 'tree change' to Alstonville seemed like a good idea, despite friends from Sydney saying his family was mad.
The Silver family moved to an avocado farm on the Alstonville Plateau.
The farm is now run by Cr Silver's son Tom and despite 'eating a lot of avocados' he said he still enjoyed a bit of 'guacamole and chilli'.
Cr Silver is thrilled to have won a four-year mayoral term this week, which will allow longer-term goals to be set.
He said creating a sense of teamwork within a new and diverse council would be rewarding.
“I really want to help build a new surf club at Lighthouse Beach and oversee plans for a major refurbishment of the Richmond riverfront,” he said.
“I also see a lot of opportunities in establishing a farmers' market in the area, which would combine local tourism with agriculture.”
Cr Silver also will be mayor during construction of the Alstonville and Ballina bypasses, and he said both projects would bring immense benefits to the community.