‘I’VE HAD A TOUGH TIME’: Mayor ready to go after seizure
MAYOR Jim Simmons said he was ready to go and eager to fulfil his commitment to the Clarence Valley as he prepares to chair this month's Clarence Valley Council committee meetings today.
However he half laughed and half looked at the floor when asked to recall what he was told just prior to the meeting where he was re-elected as mayor for the extended one-year term.
Cr Simmons had been in hospital with symptoms of diabetes and discharged himself to attend the meeting, where he was one of two nominated to take the top job for an extra year.
"I can remember one of the doctors saying what happens if you go down to the council meeting and have a seizure," he said.
Cr Simmons arrived five minutes before the meeting, and was duly re-elected mayor before the premonition came true - freezing as he had a mild seizure, with an ambulance called to take him back to hospital.
"I've had a tough time," he said. "But I'm okay now. I've come good.
"I was in hospital for three or four more days after that, but I still didn't feel right when I got out either.
"The thing with those seizures is that you don't remember having them, and it's quite scary when you come out of it."
Cr Simmons said now he and (wife) Lexi are able to keep his newly-found condition under control, and he was honoured to again take the reins of the council.
"I'm a proud resident of the Clarence Valley, and I do consider it an honour, and if you're in the game you may as well get right into it, and not do it half-heartedly."
Cr Simmons confirmed he wouldn't be seeking re-election next year, but said he wanted to be able to leave council in a strong position for the next one.
"And it's probably in as good a condition as it has been," he said.
"I've had a good interest in it because the State Government required (council) … to get their act together so to speak, and Clarence Valley did that.
"Partly that was through a special rates variation where ratepayers had to pay, and partly through losing mainly internal positions in council.
"We were well on track, and we've had a bit of a hiccup in the last year, but I'm sure we'll bounce back in this last year."
Cr Simmons said it had often been a bumpy ride, with councillors and staff alike facing harsh criticism over their fiscal approach, but he said he had appreciated the overwhelming support he'd received.
"I've got nothing but thanks for the people who have offered their support and comments, it's been fantastic," he said.
"You get some that complain, and they're entitled to, but we've got good councillors, and they've been top people who have given top support."
Sitting in his office surrounded by financial records and ledgers, it appeared Cr Simmons was well qualified for the challenge, but he deferred to general manager Ashley Lindsay.
"Really he was able to read it well," Cr Simmons said. "He may have some critics, we all do, but I think he's done a fantastic job for the council."
Looking forward to the next year, Cr Simmons said aside from keeping the books in line, a focus needed to be put on attracting visitors into the area, particularly the newly bypassed area around Grafton.
"I think it's fair to say we don't have too many problems attracting visitors downriver, but we need to do some work upriver," he said.
"We have some beautiful areas, and (with the bypass) we need to get people to come in here as well."
As for the future, Cr Simmons is focused on the job at hand starting tomorrow.
"I've got full confidence in the councillors around me, and I think we'll get the job done right," he said.
Council's committee meetings will begin at 2pm and will be livestreamed on council's Facebook page.