Coffs Harbour City Councillors have been split four/four on the matter for many months now.
Coffs Harbour City Councillors have been split four/four on the matter for many months now.

Councillor weighing up the options

FLAMBOYANT is one term to use – childish is another.

They’re both words Coffs Harbour City councillor George Cecato used to describe some of his colleagues getting into campaign mode before Covid-19 intervened.

Now the September 2020 elections have been postponed until September 2021, he’s hoping things will settle down a bit.

The Advocate has contacted all councillors to get their thoughts on the postponed elections and their intentions about running again.

“I think it might possibly be a chance to have a breather and for people to collect their thoughts because some councillors were gearing up for campaigning. You can tell that by some of their actions and the way they were behaving so I thought it might help us to make more rational and better decisions rather than decisions based on what is going to get them across the line or not.

“Some councillors can be very flamboyant about the way they campaign … it can be distracting and childish.”

He said he had not yet made up his mind if he would contest the September 2020 elections.

“Now there is no need to make a decision. I am going to work this year like normal and then as the new year approaches make the final decision.”

George Cecato at the official opening of the Woolgoolga marine rescue building at Arrawarra late last year.
George Cecato at the official opening of the Woolgoolga marine rescue building at Arrawarra late last year.

He says he is more than happy to continue serving as a councillor until September 2021.

“I don’t mind working another year, not at all. As soon as I heard the news I rearranged my private life around that so I had the time, and quality of time, to put in for a year and a bit ahead.”

Cr Cecato prides himself on being a strong advocate for the local business community.

He has been a small-business owner for many years, recently transitioning into retirement, and has been a past president of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce.

He is also a strong advocate for the Cultural and Civic Space and has criticised the Advocate’s coverage of the issue saying it is biased against the project.

In particular he has questioned the Advocate’s reporting in relation to Deputy Mayor Tegan Swan’s stance on the project. In recent months she has voted with a core group of councillors to stop it moving ahead and was one of those who caused controversy walking out of a meeting on the matter in July last year.

“I don’t have a problem with Cr Swan, I have a problem with your reporting.”

“She has consistently been voting in support of the project up until July 2019 but your articles have given the impression she has consistently voted against it.

“I feel that the Advocate is biased towards non-supporters of project.”

Cr Tegan Swan, along with Crs John Arkan, Paul Amos and Keith Rhoades walked out of a July Council meeting avoiding a vote on the Cultural and Civic Space.
Cr Tegan Swan, along with Crs John Arkan, Paul Amos and Keith Rhoades walked out of a July Council meeting avoiding a vote on the Cultural and Civic Space.

One of the real benefits of the project in his eyes, is that it will bring all council services under the one roof.

“I believe this is the right building for the city, and the right thing for businesses and for the community, but above all because of my training as a production engineer I firmly believe amalgamating all functions of council in one building is the right way to go and will represent a major operational cost saving in the future.

“That’s why I have got my heart and whole mind behind this project.”