WODONGA mayor Anna Speedie is bowing out of local government after 15 years despite almost back-flipping on her decision due to the ongoing coronavirus-induced economic pain being inflicted on the border.
The longest serving female mayor in Wodonga's history has been in the top job for the entire term of the present council.
The newly minted regional deal, which puts the Wodonga mayor at the forefront of decision-making, also was not enough incentive to seek re-election.
"It was a really hard decision," she said.
"Particularly, with the stresses this community is under right now with border closures, with COVID and the uncertain future for everybody.
"I actually re-considered and thought do I need to continue to step up because of the experience I can bring to the table, connections I have and hopefully some of the assistance I can provide to the community.
"There is never a great time, but the time for me personally is now."
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Cr Speedie joined other border mayors in speaking directly to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro about the economic hardship being experienced during the seven-week border closure period.
Among a suite of solutions put to Mr Barilaro were the addition of Yackandandah, Beechworth, Henty and Culcairn to the "border region", an extension of the highly specialised critical services permit for agriculture to also include the manufacturing, construction and hospital sectors and a cross-border support package for businesses and individuals impacted by the closure.
"There is some commonsense stuff that should be turned on or off tomorrow to make our economy and our peoples' lives much easier," she said.
"Ultimately the Premier of NSW is going to have to admit to some mistakes and they are going to correct them."
The lowpoint of her time on council was the damning Victorian Ombudsman report into the city's waste management levy over-charge.
Cr Speedie was recently elected to the Albury Wodonga Health board and plans to explore private sector career options.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack paid tribute to Cr Speedie.
"Anna has left a wonderful legacy in her 15 years as a councillor and mayor," he said.
"Two Cities One Community, the regional deal, Baranduda Fields and the CBD upgrade are projects that define her legacy.
"Her loss to local government is enormous and it will be felt locally.
"She is a great mate and wonderful mother."
Former long-serving Wodonga Ratepayers Association president Ian Deegan declined to comment on her departure.
Indi MP Helen Haines said she was "absolutely sad" to see Cr Speedie retiring.
"She's made an outstanding contribution to the Wodonga community," she said.
"I wish Anna well, I thank her for her extraordinary leadership.
"This year has particularly seen pretty major challenges for a border mayor and I think Anna has been very strong in her advocacy for her community"