AN EYE condition may be responsible for Mal Forman's exit from the political sphere, but yesterday he looked back with both fondness and regret over his time in office in an emotional speech to the Bundaberg Regional Council.
"I am extremely reluctant to walk away from council, having spent 14 years serving our community with the last four as the Bundaberg region mayor," he said.
"I am personally proud of the contributions I have made to my community through my representation on council." In his parting speech he reflected on what he felt were wins in his tenure, including the Rubyanna wastewater treatment plant, the gas pipeline, Knauf, and the Multiplex sport and community centre.
"We've left a great legacy," he said, valuing the works for the region at over $174 million.
Mr Forman also defended his council's work during testing times of the 2013 floods.
"The 2013 flood and tornado disaster came along to disrupt the lives of so many people in our community and slowed down the progress of my immediate vision I had for the growth of our region," he said.
"As the level of government closest to the community, we were always going to bear the brunt of people's frustration.
"We all live in what I believe to be the most desirable region in Australia. We need to remain positive, work collaboratively and throw our support behind the people and projects that are taking our community forward."
Mr Forman served as a councillor for nine-and-a-half years, including eight as deputy mayor. He scored the top job in 2012, citing a need for economic development. He is known for introducing McDonalds to Bundaberg, owning and running the franchise for 22 years.
He does harbour a few regrets, "such as not yet having a direct flight service to Sydney and Melbourne and up North, and that council still has divisions," he said. But on the whole, Mr Forman was full of gratitude.
"I have enjoyed the company of my fellow councillors and the robust debate that was an inevitable part of our discussions and decision-making," he said.
"Throughout my council career, I have cherished the support of my wonderful family and a caring wife.
"I look forward to sharing my time with my wife, children and grandchildren and possibly undertaking new ventures."
Towards the end of his speech the outgoing mayor paused to collect himself.
He thanked the residents of the Bundaberg region for their support and friendship and said: "Best of luck to my fellow councillors and candidates who are seeking a position at the forthcoming elections. It is an honour and a privilege to serve the people of the Bundaberg region.
"I have always had a passion to put something back into the community," Mr Forman said. "Council has provided me with that opportunity."
Mr Forman today announced he will not contest the mayoral election at the last council meeting due to a severe eye condition.
"The coming of the New Year has meant deep reflection for me regarding my values and family," Cr Forman told the last council meeting yesterday morning.
"Following considerable consultation and discussion with my wife Joy and family, coupled with advice from my ophthalmologist and doctor, I have made a decision to step out of the public arena."
A corrugation on his cornea flared up in September 2015, forcing him to cancel a trip to China, and has made reading and using computers "a considerable challenge".
This year marks the end of Mr Forman's first term as mayor of the Bundaberg region. He took on the top job in May 2012, vowing to "take the council in a new direction".
He was also a part of the Bundaberg Christian School committee from 1995 to 2013 as well as organisations including Crime Stoppers, Bundaberg Region Tourism, Regional Development Australia.
He is currently chair of Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils.