Gianpiero Battista, Isaac Smith and Greg Bennett have all quit Lismore City Council before the elections in September.
Gianpiero Battista, Isaac Smith and Greg Bennett have all quit Lismore City Council before the elections in September.

Lismore council is disintegrating before our very eyes

It's still more than seven months before the next local government elections and Lismore City Council is disappearing before ratepayers' eyes.

Fire, flood, drought, COVID-19, crippling debt, claims of a lack of confidence in the council's leadership and the long period between elections has seen three councillors move on during this period.

Isaac Smith's time as Lismore mayor officially ended on Sunday.

While there were some nice tributes for him online from former mayor Jenny Dowell and others, Smith's reign as mayor ended with a whimper and not a bang.

In announcing his retirement pre-Christmas, Smith said he was moving into the private sector to take up a position as the chief executive officer of a local NGO.

Good luck to him, it's got to be less stressful than being in charge of a council that was found to have a $6 million black hole not so long ago.

The council meets on February 9 to anoint a successor, until the next elections roll around on September 16.

Neil Marks has been acting in the role for several months and appears to be the front runner.

But if you remember back to the mayoral vote of 2016, Vanessa Ekins also has solid support behind her.

Let's not forget that besides Smith stepping down to take up another job, two former councillors announced they were stepping down in August of last year.

Greg Bennett flagged it early that he wouldn't be re contesting the next local government elections and left after selling his farm.

He said at the time he no longer felt part of the community.

More explosive was the resignation of Gianpiero Battista.

He described his resignation as a vote of "no confidence in the leadership of council, the general manager and the mayor as well".

"The main reason why I left is because unfortunately, in the last 18 months, council has become a place where you cannot improve the city's life," he said at the time.

"I was constantly fighting to get the right information, and that kept going backwards rather than going forward."

Whether their reasons for quitting ahead of time were personal or professional, there can be no illusions serving on local councils is a thankless and tough task.

The stress and strain on the council, councillors and the local government area as a whole, is writ large in these early retirements.

Let's hope there is renewal and fresh blood at the upcoming elections in September.



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