New Lismore councillor fighting for minorities
HE'S only been in Lismore 15 months, but already Ray Houston is settling into the drivers' seat and tearing apart the city council's conservative image.
The city's first openly gay councillor is one of six fresh faces on a new, leaner council, which was cut from 12 to 11 representatives at the elections. Other new councillors are Country Labor member Isaac Smith, businessman Gianpiero Battista, the Nationals-aligned independent Neil Marks, Simon Clough from the Our Sustainable Future group, and Roads and Services Action Party member David Yarnell.
The new arrivals will be greeted by five veterans, including Mayor Jenny Dowell, John Chant, Graham Meineke, Peter Graham and Vanessa Ekins.
Cr Houston said he had been inspired by Cr Dowell – who led the Country Labor ticket – to stand for the council.
“I've always been deliberately political and always believed in the power of the community to define and control its own destiny,” he said.
Cr Houston, who moved to Lismore from Glen Waverley in Melbourne 15 months ago, said the council needed to look at how it spent money on roads and infrastructure. “We can work smarter and get much more work done for our money,” he said.
Cr Houston said he was pro-development, as long as it was sustainable, and has pledged to keep in touch with the community's wishes through community forums and advisory groups.
“Knowing the intention of the community is important and staying in touch with the community's priorities is the job of a councillor,” he said.
As a retired mental health nurse and healthcare educator, Cr Houston said he was especially interested in being an advocate for minorities in the local community.
Cr Houston described himself as an attached gay man. “I will be putting my hand up for gays and lesbians, indigenous Australians, people with English as a second language and those with mental health issues,” he said.
The new council meets for the first time on October 14.