Councillor profiles - Rodney Reid Mayor of Wakefield Regional Council

Article image - Councillor profiles - Rodney Reid Mayor of Wakefield Regional Council

Wakefield Regional Council is located approximately 100 km north of Adelaide and sweeps from the coastline of Gulf St Vincent to the foothills of the northern Mount Lofty Ranges. It is a rural council with agriculture as the key industry with broadacre cropping and the chicken industry being the main ones and a small commercial fishing fleet. The current population is almost 7000 people.

Balaklava is the regional town with seven smaller towns and a few hamlets scattered throughout. The district includes some beautiful natural spots such as the Rocks Reserve, the Sapphire Coast and Lake Bumbunga, a pink lake.

The area has always encouraged and supported the arts with galleries, a community run movie theatre, local performing art groups, choirs and the biggest event on the Arts calendar is the annual Balaklava Eisteddfod involving more than 1000 performers on the Friday with support from schools from the city and regional areas.

Wakefield Regional Council may not be a key tourism destination but it is the gateway to the Clare Valley wine district and the fishing and holiday experiences of the Yorke Peninsula and the break in the journey on the way to the Flinders Ranges with its wonderful
natural environment.

Making our community a better place
I joined Council in 2006 representing the South Ward. I completed two terms as a ward councillor before nominating for the position of Mayor which I was elected to unopposed in 2014 and again in 2018.
Wherever I have lived I have been actively involved in community groups. I have played, coached and held office in sporting clubs and associations.  I have maintained an active role in local churches. My commitment to numerous community organisations has included Apex, town hall committees, KESAB and town associations. When joining Council I was not focussed on a specific issue but simply offering my services to make our community a better place to live, work and enjoy.

I have always loved gardening, the arts (as an audience member, not a performer or painter) and local history.

Inspired to contribute
As a teacher I lived throughout South Australia and it was teaching that brought me to Owen on the northern Adelaide Plains. Seventeen years ago I switched from teaching to administration in a farming enterprise. This change caused me to travel across the Wakefield Regional Council area eight times a week which inspired my thinking to contribute to community on a wider basis.

I now book keep for three local farming families which gives me flexibility to fit this work in between Council and community commitments.

I see my role as Mayor not only being the spokesperson for Council but as a servant to the community. Thus I turn up at as many community functions as I can including lending a hand at working bees if I can. I love the opportunity to meet with and listen to people share their stories. As Mayor I am patron of four community organisations and support many others.

The biggest challenge is to provide a balance across the whole Council area and to reassure people that their projects are no lesser or greater than others but Council has limitations in what can be achieved in any one year.

Resilience under adversity fostered
During my term as the Mayor our district has experienced major adverse events such as The Pinery Fire, flooding in Balaklava, Bowmans and Port Wakefield, wind storms that twisted power lines and blacked out the state for a lengthy period and another that caused havoc with a revamped sporting complex, only opened the week prior, causing it to be out of action for many months. Wakefield Regional Council took an active leadership and support role in all of these. Elected members and staff worked together closely with the needs of the community to reassure our people and to rebuild the confidence and daily lives of those impacted as best we could.

The resilience of our people is a constant inspiration to strive to go forward making our communities desirable places to have businesses working and employing our residents. We are always open to meet with prospective business start-ups within our district and offer support where we can to existing businesses.

During the COVID -19 crisis Council has offered a cash grant of $5,000 to all our businesses who can demonstrate the impact of the pandemic as we want and need them to be still functioning through and after the crisis. There has been a great uptake of these grants. We have also supported our community and sporting groups assisting with electricity and water payments.

Council has one of the largest road networks in the state and a small ratepayer base. This becomes a unique challenge for us. Council has been working for years on an accelerated road maintenance and upgrade programme committing approximately 65 percent of our budget to addressing the issue. We acknowledge the huge backlog and going forward with our long term financial plan we will endeavour to fund the work required on the backlog as well as meeting the other services our residents hope to achieve.

Aligned to plan the future
Currently council is involved in a programme called Wakefield 2030. This has involved many community forums listening to the communities and key groups. Elected members and staff continue to work together to take these ideas and create a plan going forward. It is giving us a chance to reflect on the directions the community really want and for Council to align to it. We are fortunate that our current borrowings are low so we will be able to use good financial management to meet the key objectives of Wakefield 2030.

I am enthusiastic to see Wakefield 2030 become a reality and all the hard work will see projects being developed in the years to come. In Wakefield Regional Council we have great community volunteers and as Council supports the communities, we have lots to acknowledge and celebrate. Together we are building a better place to be.