WHEN Jacqui Rudge was on the campaign trail to become a councillor, a question that kept popping up was “how many council meetings have you attended?”
Twelve months on, she can say with absolute certainty that the answer to that question will always be irrelevant, as nothing an ordinary citizen hears at a meeting could ever prepare them for being on the other side.
“It’s totally different sitting in the public gallery to sitting in the chamber,” Cr Rudge said.
“Because when you’re in the public gallery, you’re probably just thinking about one thing that you’re focused on, but when you’re sitting in the chamber, you’re thinking about many different things that you have to vote on that night.”
She recalls the first decision she had to make as a councillor was to elect the mayor and deputy mayor to lead Bathurst Regional Council.
It was a daunting task, she said, but once that decision was made, the hard work of preparing to make other significant decisions at council meetings really began.
“The first few meetings, you feel like your head is spinning a bit, however I must say that I’ve settled down somewhat in that role now,” Cr Rudge said.
One of the challenges she has come across as a councillor is balancing the expert knowledge of council staff and consultants alongside the feelings of the public when making decisions.
“You do have to weigh the decisions up very carefully, and I do,” she said.
“They’re not always a popular decision, but when I went into council I did tell everybody ‘I’m going to make decisions you may not agree with, but that’s my job’.
“I have to make a decision that I think is the right one and I stand by those decisions.”
Cr Rudge was particularly proud of was passing the branding strategy through council, to help guide the way Bathurst will be communicated to people outside of the city.
It came with controversy, but she believes it will ultimately benefit the city.
Her priorities coming onto council were tourism, heritage and keeping local businesses going strong, and she hopes to continue strengthening those areas during the remainder of her term.
“I feel that I am achieving what I set out to do,” she said.