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Mayor Neil Reilly won’t contest next council election

The Bugle App

Malcolm King

05 July 2024, 4:35 AM

Mayor Neil Reilly won’t contest next council election

Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly won’t contest the upcoming council election and will step down at the end of the current council’s term in August.

Councillor Reilly, who has been on the council for 17 years, was tasked with pulling the council’s finances into shape – alongside the CEO and administration team.

"At the age of 71 the time has come for me to embrace a new chapter of life,” says Cr Reilly.  “The road ahead for Kiama is bright, and while I may no longer be at the helm, my commitment to our community remains unwavering. I look forward to watching Kiama continue to flourish, albeit from a different vantage point.

Cr Reilly will chair his final council meeting on August 13, before council elections on September 14.

“I am eager to explore new horizons, indulge in neglected hobbies, and perhaps finally have the time to perfect my grandfathering skills,” says Cr Reilly. “I leave with a heart full of memories, pride in our achievements, and excitement for the future. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of the people I’ve shared this journey with, especially the many council staff and of course my fellow Councillors.”

Cr Reilly says his legacy is “one of  stability and accountability”.

"One of the things that we have done from day one was to reveal to those people who are concerned – the Audit Office, TCorp and the Office of Local Government – that we were in strife,” he says. “I think that all of those agencies … have recognised the work that we've done and know that we're on the right course for improvement and prosperity."

Under Cr Reilly’s leadership, the council conducted several financial reviews, over-hauled governance structures and developed a strategic plan for Blue Haven

While Cr Reilly suffered health issues earlier this year and took leave to recover from treatment for cancer related to a melanoma, he said that wasn't a factor in his decision to step down.

He returned to the mayoral job in early April and, while he said his health had improved since the hospital stay, he wondered whether the job was good for his health.

"My health is excellent," he said.

Mayor Reilly told the media a few months ago he was considering his future.

“I'm still tossing up whether it would be beneficial to the community if I stayed on. Or it may be better to the community if I decided not to run again,” he said.

Kiama is the only Illawarra council that doesn't have a directly elected mayor. The position is chosen by the councillors.

Reilley said at the time that serving as a councillor after leaving the mayoral position wasn't an option.

"I think it would be difficult for anybody after having been the mayor to go back to being a councillor," he said.

"My age is 71, I've been in council 17 years ... it's time to take a curtain call, take a bow and move into the background.”