Bathurst councillor Jacqui Rudge has confirmed she won't be heading a ticket at the upcoming local government election in December, with a view to dedicate more time to family, community and mental health advocacy.
Cr Rudge said the postponement of the election to December, alongside the fact she's about to become a grandmother for the first time, were key factors in her decision.
"I was never going to head a ticket unless I knew I could put 150 per cent into the campaign, but with the election postponed and my daughter about to have her first child in November, I feel it's best to put family first right now," she said.
"But I won't be retiring from community life by any means, there's still so much more I feel I can do to advocate for the Bathurst region, it just won't be as a member of Bathurst Regional Council."
She was also widely commended by the local community for her bravery at bringing to light an attempt to blackmail her into resigning from council, a matter that is still currently under police investigation.
"I've made no secret publicly that it hasn't been a very easy time for me on council; however, I'm walking away feeling like I've handled myself with dignity," Cr Rudge said.
"Integrity and honesty have always been my two core values as a councillor, and while it's a role subject to plenty of criticism in the court of public opinion, I don't think the community widely understands the challenges of serving on council."
Alongside spending more time with family, Cr Rudge said she's really passionate about doing more work around mental health locally, as she feels it's an issue still widely misunderstood in the community.
"There's a lot more to be done locally around the management of mental health and, especially following COVID, there's bound to be more people out there in dire need of assistance," she said.
"Coming from someone with lived experience, I want to help others and educate the community more around mental health; people who suffer from mental health issues are quite capable of turning things around and living with it, which is where increased education and sensitivity around the topic is necessary."
Cr Rudge is currently involved in a couple of projects with the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Service at Bathurst Hospital.
With Cr Rudge and councillor Monica Morse not seeking re-election, Bathurst is set to elect at least two new councillors come December.
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