Mayor Vanessa Ekins

candidates_vanessa_1aI am the current Mayor of Lismore. Having served 17 years on Lismore Council I am humbled and honoured to serve as Mayor of the community and place I love. Since becoming Mayor I have worked hard to improve the financial position of Council and community confidence in Council. We now have a strong strategy for sustainability, we are on the right path and I believe I am the best and most experienced person to lead us all forward on the next Council.

I have lived in Widjabul Wiabal country for 28 years where I have raised my sons, worked as a science teacher in all of our local high schools and I have been actively involved in our community. In addition to my civic role on Council I have volunteered with Wilsons River Landcare, Lismore Lantern Parade and RiverFM community radio.

I was first elected to Council 17 years ago on a strong platform of protecting our farmland and improving environmental outcomes and protecting our natural environment from urban encroachment. I worked hard to drive a biodiversity strategy that provides substantial funding each year for environmental restoration on farms and riverbanks and has been helping us to protect our natural environment.

Water security and how we use water is an emerging issue. Most household water use is for toilets, laundry and gardens yet only one quarter of our homes have rain water tanks. Using tanks reduces the demand on Rocky Creek Dam making this supply available in times of drought. As a member of the regional water authority Rous County Council since 2008, I have a very good understanding of the issues relating to water supply and demand in this region. I strongly advocate for rain water tank rebates, diverse water supplies and purified recycled water to meet future demand on the coast. We most certainly do not need another expensive, inefficient, destructive dam. The experts are warning us that we will not find future water security in old ways. I will continue to listen to the experts as we all work together sensibly to deliver water security and protect our environment and communities at the same time.

As Chair of Council’s floodplain committee, I am actively progressing green infrastructure. Our previous approach to protecting Lismore from flooding is to build expensive, dangerous and ugly concrete levee walls and channelise our creeks, with poor environmental outcomes. While we can never completely flood proof our town, the latest flood management research shows the positive benefits of planting trees to slow water flow, reduce erosion, improve water quality, increase biodiversity, store carbon, improve soil and create long term jobs.

We need affordable housing. I initiated an extensive consultation process with developers and housing agencies to examine barriers to building medium density dwellings. Over 60% of our homes are lived in by only 1 or 2 people indicating smaller homes will be in demand. It may take a few years but a housing strategy means we can collect contributions from developers and work with the state government to build social housing and affordable homes.

As Mayor of Lismore I am an experienced steady and unifying leader. We have faced financial challenges, flood, fire, drought and COVID-19. I have. I have good working relationships with all councillors and council staff. I am determined to get positive outcomes for our community. I celebrate the diversity of our communities and I am committed to protecting our rich environment.
On 4 September I am asking for you to continue to trust me and to vote for me as your Mayor.