Councillor explains mindset of his role in the community
DIVISION 10 councillor John Learmonth recalled the doubt he felt two years ago when he was confronted with learning the ways of local government bureaucracy.
The Bundaberg councillor threw his hat in the ring when the 2018 by-election was called, after Peter Heuser resigned due to terminal illness.
The retiree believed at the time he would not get the support to win against three other candidates but did so because he wanted to contribute to the community.
He was caught by surprise at the favourable vote, so much so that he had to cut short a trip to Perth where he had committed to a yacht racing competition days after the election.
Cr Learmonth said it took him three months to learn the processes of council, and which staff he needed to talk to, and was mindful other councillors had at least two years more experience.
“I’m going, ‘My god, what have I done? What am I doing here, what have I done this for?’” he said.
But he warmed to the role and no longer referred to it as a job.
He wants to carry on with another council term and said there was more to learn.
“I just want to stress I am there for the people. I could be sitting back somewhere enjoying life as a retired man again, but I don’t elect to do that,” Cr Learmonth said.
”It’s exciting to be able to get things done and get out there. I want to help, and you know what? It makes me feel good.”
But he would not make any promises in his election campaign, saying he would be lying if he was somehow unable to achieve them. But he would continue trying to get upgrades and outcomes for the division.
“There are arguments divisional councils are not a good thing because people focus on their areas,” he said.
“I’m probably a bit guilty of that I suppose because I really like my division, and I try to go out there and do the right thing.”
Cr Learmonth said the relationship among councillors had been good, but there had been some disruption since November.
That month Jack Dempsey and councillor Helen Blackburn revealed their mayoral campaigns.
He thought retiring councillors Judy Peters and Ross Sommerfeld would continue to run.
“It threw everything out of kilter a bit and I think it has probably disrupted council a little, but I think there’s still a lot of very good councillors there that want to stay in.”