In a farewell newsletter to her one thousand subscribers, Cr Ingrid Jackson has said the most strenuous opposition she experienced in office was from fellow councillors whenever she sought improved openness, transparency and evidence-based decision-making by the council.
“At times this pushback was excessive,” she said, “but I continued to stand for my values and principles despite antagonism and intimidation.”
Cr Jackson announced late last year she would not be standing for a second term and has since endorsed independent candidates Karen Finzel, David (Fletch) Fletcher and Andrew Squires, saying the values and principles she espoused will be given new life if they are elected.
She said her successes as a councillor included enhanced council transparency, improved governance and strong advocacy on many issues, including garnering council support for marriage equality.
“But often success was only partial and there were important initiatives I could not achieve in the absence of support from other councillors,” she said.
“These included matters like rejecting greater openness by voting against committee meeting minutes and refusing public access to the more than 100 closed door meetings a year that discuss community issues.
“The majority of councillors also rejected a number of governance and accountability measures including obliging the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation to open its membership to the community and requiring The Nature Conservancy to adhere to council procurement processes after it had been handed an untendered grant of $1.2 million.”
Cr Jackson said she had run into hurdles getting councillors to base decisions on hard evidence. “On a number of occasions they voted against obtaining legal advice and expert reports on issues where I believe this would have improved decision-making.
“There were also failures to develop business cases for multi-million dollars projects like the Peregian Digital Hub, the former TAFE site and the Cooroy Playground,” she said.
“It is said, ‘you win some, you lose some’, but I would have liked to have won more and experienced less hostile treatment from my fellow councillors when they opposed my initiatives.
“That said, I have valued so many things about being a councillor, including advocating on behalf of the community, supporting people and their endeavours, and the engrossing intellectual and personal challenge of striving to make a difference.”
Cr Jackson said she continued to uphold the principles she stood for in representing the community and was proud of what she had achieved.
“I hope electors will consider my experiences when they decide who to vote for at the March election,” she said. “They should keep in mind that the people we elect define the kind of community we will become.”