ARMIDALE Dumaresq Mayor Peter Ducat will not contest the local government election in September, ending a seven-year stint at the helm.
Cr Ducat announced he would be stepping down from the position when his current term expired, citing family reasons for his decision.
“I’ve been working for 50 years and a couple of months, basically without a stop, so I just want to take the opportunity while I can and enjoy life,” he told The Express. “Maybe it’s time for a new person, a younger person to come along.”
While the 65-year-old described standing down as a relief, he said it was a tough decision.
“I think this is one of the hardest decisions I’ve made and it’s something that I’ve been making for at least three months,” he said. “If it was only for another year that’d be great, but you can’t do that. You’ve got to do four years in a stint so it’s always too early but the decision has to be made sometime.”
Cr Ducat was elected to the newly formed Armidale Dumaresq Council in 2000. He served as deputy mayor for four years under former mayor Brian Chetwynd, before being elected to the mayoralty in 2005.
Cr Ducat said the greatest achievement during his time as mayor was leading a more harmonious Council.
“We work as a very harmonious unit and I think that’s lifted the profile of Armidale Council as a body in the area,” he said. “We were seen as being a very divisive Council that couldn’t agree and the community saw us having fixed issues.
“I think we’ve turned that around and now everything’s debated on its merit, councillors have got no prioritisation or no loyalties to any one person so it’s all done for the benefit of the community.”
Cr Ducat also listed the improvements to NERAM as one of the greatest achievements during his time as mayor.
“When I became mayor, NERAM was a millstone around Council’s neck,” he said. “Council made the decision - which was the best decision we made while I was on Council - to get an independent corporation running it with experienced people.
“Look at NERAM now; it’s moving forward, it’s grasping opportunities, it’s just being run well.
“It’s a credit to those people and a great turnaround for what it was five or six years ago.”
Deputy mayor Jim Maher (pictured) praised Cr Ducat for his work in the community both before and during his time as a councillor.
“He and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on some policy areas, but I’ve always respected him and worked closely with him,” he said. “I wish him the very best. We’ve always had a good working relationship and I’ve always known him as an honest, decent person. I’d like to thank him on behalf of Council and the rest of Armidale for his services to the community.”
Councillor Herman Beyersdorf said Cr Ducat had made Council a less divisive place, though noted that he had been restricted in decision making by conflicts of
“Peter has served well as mayor over the years and has been a popular figure,” he said. “His decision-making has been handicapped at times by needing to declare pecuniary interests in development applications.
“Under his mayorship, Council has been more inclusive and, although we all still have our different views on certain issues, it certainly feels more like we’re acting together as a body. “I’ll be sorry to see him go.”
Council general manager Shane Burns (pictured) also praised Cr Ducat for his service as mayor in a message to Council staff.
“He has done an exceptional job in leading the Council and upholding the values required of a civic leader,” he said.