Straight talk from your new mayor Kylie Thomas

ABOVE: Kylie Thomas is Kyogle’s new mayor. Photos: Susanna Freymark

Susanna Freymark

Kylie Thomas said it would take time for the Kyogle community to get used to having a new mayor.

“I want people to know that I’ve been here a long time. I’m known in this community. I’m a team player and I have no outside agenda,” Kylie said.

As she sits in the beer garden at the Exchange Hotel, people pass by and congratulate her on being mayor.

She’s aware of the division that followed her winning the vote five-four at the first meeting of the new council on January 5.

It was a surprise to many in the community who expected Danielle Mulholland to be re-elected.

Kylie isn’t taking the reaction personally.

“They didn’t see it coming and it’s a hard pill to swallow,” she said.

The 52-year-old grew up in the historic gold mining town of Hill End. Her father was a police officer and her mother a community nurse.

When she was 16, the family moved back to her father’s home in California. For 16 years she lived in the States and her American accent remains.

She moved to Kyogle in 2003 with her three children.

All her children went to school in Kyogle.

Kylie now lives at Doubtful Creek and every morning she runs a few kilometres.

“That is my stress relief,” she said.

She rides her horses and is learning to play golf, which is something she never thought she’d do – “It forces me to block everything out”.

Most important to her is living in a place that is good and safe for her family. Two of her daughters live in Kyogle and she has eight grandchildren.

She runs the new Country Folk Workwear Apparel in Kyogle with her daughter. They opened in October.

Kylie does subcontract work for Australian Rail Track Corporation as a railway safety officer.

She was also the project manager for the housing subdivision off Runnymede Rd.

Kylie has been a councillor for six years and becoming mayor doesn’t change her vote. “Remember who I was six months ago? Now I’m sitting in a different seat.”

The biggest change she wants to make is how she works with other councillors. “I plan on running as a team. I’ll be taking my deputy (Tom Cooper) with me to council staff meetings.”

She wants to find new ways to do things better.

“Our roads have been a problem for a long time but there is no miracle cure. Until we rip up the road and seal it, we will have maintenance issues. We might need to adjust the budget.”

In the previous council term, the focus was on bridges.

“We were stuck on bridges and making the villages liveable,” Kylie said.

“Clarence Way is a big sticking point with a lot of residents. We don’t want to get wrapped up in that. The state needs to do that.”

She didn’t like the way Federal politicians came into town waving a cheque for $120,000 towards a $450,000 bridge and wanting a photo opportunity.

“They were offering peanuts,” she said.

Kylie doesn’t mince her words. She is fearless in her convictions.

She knows that some people don’t want her as mayor.

“I want to reassure people that they are in safe hands,” she said. “I have the skills and experience to do the job well.

“When you’re on a construction site you don’t alienate the digger driver. We’re doing this together.”

What does she think about changing the election process so the community elects the mayor directly?

She’s all for it.

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