Graham calls it quits ‘while I have my wits’

THREE-time mayor of Indigo Peter Graham is retiring from the council “while I have my wits about me”.

Cr Graham said his age — he is 72 — had prompted him to give it away after 20 years on the council.

“Another four-year term would put me into my high 70s,” Cr Graham said of the prospect of running again.

“I’ll go while I have my wits about me, although some would argue that,” he said.

“In four years I’m not sure just how smart I might be, so age is the major consideration.

“There are people who are 80 in local government doing a good job, but from my point of view, I think anyone aged in their mid-70s should step away and let young people have a crack.”

Cr Graham was elected to the Rutherglen Shire in 1992.

Rutherglen, Beechworth, Chiltern and Yackandandah shires merged into the Indigo Shire under commissioners in 1994. Cr Graham was elected at the first Indigo election in 1997.

He has had three stints as mayor covering five years.

His most recent stint was in 2008-09.

Indigo mayor Larry Goldsworthy, who will also stand down this year, yesterday lauded his colleague.

“Peter has been a strong advocate for the entire council and he has served the people of Indigo well as both a councillor and as a mayor,” Cr Goldsworthy said.

“It’s an extraordinary effort for someone to be in a local council as long as he has.

“It’s not all beer and skittles — you do cop a lot of criticism.”

Cr Graham, a retired soldier, said highlights of his time on the council, included hall upgrades.

“We also achieved a fair bit by saving the Beechworth prison when they were doing the redevelopment,” he said.

“And I was the mayor on each occasion that Beechworth was affected by bushfires and I think the way the community came together after that was great.”

Cr Graham said the differences between various towns and villages had been the toughest factor during his council service.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, each community will say the other community is doing better than them,” he said.

“I think, against all odds, Indigo Shire has maintained its independence financially and administratively.

“That doesn’t mean we’re perfect and the council has to improve in some areas.

“But, on balance, the Indigo Shire is here to stay.”

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