Mayor to lead NOROC despite cancer battle
Less than two weeks after her first chemotherapy treatment, Cr Jenny Dowell is wearing yet another leadership hat after being elected president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) on Tuesday.
NOROC provides a united voice for the local governments of Ballina, Kyogle, Tweed, Byron, Clarence Valley, Richmond Valley and Lismore, plus the Richmond River and Rous county councils, and their combined 280,000 residents.
Cr Dowell said she stood for the position because of her strong belief in the importance of local government.
“Local government is absolutely essential because it's involved in the everyday lives of citizens,” she said.
Cr Dowell said issues raised by NOROC had more chance of being heard by State and Federal governments because a united voice was 'more powerful'.
“In the past year NOROC has been influential in attracting funding for the Pacific Highway upgrade,” she said.
“This success can be built on by NOROC harnessing the collective support of councils in this region and communicating a clear voice on behalf of the community to the Federal Government, in particular.”
She said the relationship between councils and the Federal government was also stronger since Kevin Rudd became Prime Minster.
Local and state government relations in NSW didn't get the same wrap from mayors in NSW, Cr Dowell said.
“At the Australian Council of Local Government meeting, many mayors in NSW considered the State government as a barrier,” she said.
Despite Cr Dowell's passion for local government and a hectic schedule of mayoral duties, an afternoon nap is now mandatory as she copes with the side-effects of chemotherapy.
“I am still powering on, but I can never predict how I'm going to react to treatment,” she said. “I have a few people making sure I try to take it easy.”
First on the agenda for the new NOROC committee will be identifying focus areas for each local council.
For Lismore this will include trying to gain funding for regional roads, Lismore Base Hospital, looking into a regional recycling system and how to deal with an aging population and climate change, Cr Dowell predicted.