After three consecutive terms as a Councillor with Yass Valley Council, Geoff Frost will not be running again.
Geoff had always planned to leave after this term which was meant to be last year but was extended due to Covid-19.
“They extended the sentence,” Geoff said with a chuckle.
Thirteen years ago, Geoff decided to run for Council because he “wanted to see things get done”.
“Council looked like and was, an opportunity to be able to influence and make things happen, and still is.”
“I just think right now I need to be somewhere else, and it’s also good to open it up and let other people have a go,” he said.
The responsibility of representing the estimated 17,000 people who live within the Yass Valley for so many years is something Geoff takes pride in.
“It’s a really good experience being a Councillor, and not until you’ve been it for a little while do you realise you’ve got a fair responsibility there as well.”
“There’s 17,000 people that live in the district, and 9 of them get to talk at that table.”
“The public’s been really good with me the whole time; I’ve never had an issue with people abusing me or any of those sorts of things,” he said.
When he first started, Geoff believes the Council had much more of a local focus and hopes the next group of councillors can help this focus return.
“I’d like to see it more focused at that local level than what it has been.”
“There’s a temptation to get carried away with the issues and whatever in the Council, and it’s pretty easy to forget sometimes that we’re there to provide services for the public.”
After being asked what particular issues he’d like to see resolved in the future, Geoff brought up the water, as well as an issue he thinks will grow in relevance, which is Yass’ lack of a drainage plan.
“The more I think about leaving, the more I think about things I’d like to see done.”
“The water is the obvious one, I think that goes without saying, but we’ve done a lot of work on water over my time.”
“What worries about Yass itself at the moment is that we don’t have any drainage plan, and there is no stormwater system,” he said.
Whilst other Councillors and Council staff have hinted in recent time that the long-term solution to getting quality water into the Yass Valley would involve Canberra, Geoff isn’t as convinced.
“I’ve always been very dubious about that.”
“The problem with the Canberra water supply is that the Canberra economy and the way Canberra runs its budgeting relies very much on the sale of high-priced land in the ACT.”
“If we became dependent on Canberra water, it’ll be a very big temptation for any Canberra government to say, ‘guys we don’t want you to put a lot there, and we don’t think we should be supplying the water to something that’s competitive to what we’re doing’,” he said.
As for what’s next, Geoff will continue in his role as President of Yass Can Assist, as well as his return to Yass FM.
“I was involved a lot with the beginning of the radio station, and I’m starting back and do a lot of that stuff,” he said.
Even though he may be stepping down from Council, Geoff hinted that he would remain involved with the issues that concern locals, and in particular, the fight to refurbish the Memorial Hall.
Whilst he admitted there were occasionally frustrations tied to the role, he still had no regrets and would recommend to anyone in the community considering running for election to give it the best shot.
“Go and do it!”
“You’ll learn so much about people and a lot about yourself as well.”
“If you put the work in, you’ll get the rewards back, and people do notice,” he said.
He did, however, want to warn aspirational councillors to veer away from promising too much as they attempt to be elected, as the nature of Council relies on at least four other councillors support before anything can be accepted.
Geoff’s 13 years with Council is a remarkable achievement, and his continued commitment to making the Yass Valley a better place is something that should be lauded as his tenure comes to an end.
With three out of the current nine councillors announcing they will not be running in the September election, and with potential for more to follow, it appears the Yass Valley is set to see a refreshed local council.