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Please don’t name a carpark after me: Jenny Dowell

SOON to be former Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has declared she will go “cold turkey” on social media after stepping down in September following eight high-profile years on the job.

Cr Dowell also joked that she had no desire to have a carpark named after her - as some former mayors have - half-joking that she could think of “nothing worse” than being remembered by a “piece of asphalt”.

Having led the charge by local councillors into the often fickle world of Facebook the mayor has amassed a huge following with her friends list hitting the Facebook maximum of 5000.

But this will come to an end in September, when post-election Cr Dowell will suspend her account.

She said she didn’t want to become one of the “ghosts of mayors past”.

“I won’t be doing it... it’s not fair to the council to have people coming to me as a conduit to council,” Cr Dowell said.

“My husband says I’ll find that almost impossible, because I sit at night watching television with my iPad and my iPhone both going at the same time answering questions,” she laughed.

One of the reasons why Cr Dowell launched herself into social media in the first place was as part of her goal to build a closer knit community in Lismore.

She said she now received hundreds of messages each day.

“I’ve made it my goal to communicate what council’s doing, to communicate the good things that are happening here.

“If I’ve gone part way to making some people feel they have a voice, and they’ve got a strong sense of belonging here, then I’ll be very pleased with the legacy I’ll be leaving.

Asked about the other highlights of her time in office, Cr Dowell named an improved relationship with Aboriginal culture and heritage as a key achievement of the council.

“We’re one of only 50 councils in the whole of the country that have a reconciliation action plan and we’re considered to be one of the leaders,” she said.

She said the council had also developed a closer and more “responsive” relationship with the community, while one of the biggest day to day achievements was its sustainability focus.

“Our waste management would be second to none across the country,” she said.

Another big achievement was the revitalisation of the Lismore CBD, and the planning now in place for future housing developments such as the North Lismore plateau and further estates in Goonellabah.

“I can still remember that young people used to say to me ‘Lismore’s a hole, I can’t wait to get out of this place.”

“I thought that’s the kind of thing I want to change.

“We’ve got a really diverse and interesting place here... I think it was always diverse and interesting but I think people are recognising that now.”

With the sun setting on her mayoral career, Cr Dowell said she had started to prepare herself for what would be a big transition.

“It’s been the highest privilege of my life to do this role and I will miss it incredibly.

“But there has to be a time to go, and I’d rather go now while I still love it, than stay on.”

Jenny Dowell’s highlights of the past eight years

1. Better engagement with Aboriginal community: Aboriginal flags in council, honouring the Widjabul people.

2. Council’s more responsive relationship with the community: better communication, more open dialogue.

3. Environmental sustainability: waste management, biodiversity strategy.

4. Revitalisation of the Lismore CBD: Lismore a happening and diverse place with plenty going on: the Back Alley Gallery, cafe culture, Eat the Street, night market.

5. New housing developments allowing Lismore to grow.

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