Amanda Bown

New councillor on warpath

NEWLY-ELECTED Richmond Valley councillor Donella Kinnish might not have been a councillor for long, but she already has plans to reform the council.

The Broadwater-based Cr Kinnish, along with Stuart George, Owen Crawford and Stephen Morrissey, is one of four new faces elected to the council.

Cr Kinnish's election follows a near upset in the mayoral race, where she out-polled former mayor Charlie Cox and came in second to new mayor Col Sullivan.

The naming of Richmond Valley's councillors leaves only the Lismore councillors still to be revealed. Counting for the Lismore positions was expected to finish today. They attend their first meeting on October 14.

Meanwhile, Cr Kinnish was yesterday taking aim at what she saw as under-performing staff at Richmond Valley Council.

Cr Kinnish said she had a mental list of the names of council staff who she believed were not doing their jobs properly. She put the list together while on the campaign trail.

“My constituents complained about staff at the council and it was always the same names,” she said.

“I will be looking at their performance criteria and seeing if they actually are meeting it.”

Cr Kinnish also fired a broadside at the council's economic development unit, which she also saw as under-performing.

“There are businesses that want to relocate the Richmond Valley shire, but they have had no help from the unit,” she said.

Cr Kinnish said she would ask the unit's staff what they had achieved and what their objectives were.

Another hot issue for Cr Kinnish was recent changes to the structure of land rates, which she said were unfair.

“The way the whole thing was dealt with was not done the way I would have done it,” she said.

“Some residents in Casino are paying $94 a year less in rates. In Evans Head rates have jumped up by $500.”

While Cr Kinnish is new to council, she is no stranger to politics. For two years she managed the office of Liberal Senator Garry Humphries, until 2006.

Cr Kinnish and her fellow new councillors will get their first taste of council debate when the new council meets on October 1.

Richmond Valley Council will be the third Northern Rivers council to meet after the elections.

Ballina is first off the blocks with a meeting this Thursday.

Cr Kinnish, who ran on the Community First ticket, said she was happy with the way the new council was shaping up.

“All in all I am pleased with the mix,” she said.

“Five old and four new is pretty good - there's new blood.”

Of the incumbents, Robert Mustow, Ray Jeffery, Shirley Wheatley and former mayor Charlie Cox have retained their seats.

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