SHOCK: James Cochrane quits council
LESS than two years into his term, Councillor James Cochrane has quit Gympie Regional Council in a shock decision which he said was made in the best interests of the community.
Citing "business and personal reasons” which he felt stifled his ability to do the job properly, Mr Cochrane resigned yesterday afternoon.
"I feel I am now not able to commit the time required to represent the region to a standard that is acceptable to myself or those that elected me,” he said.
He said while the current system allowed councillors to disconnect from and shirk their responsibilities while still being fully paid, to stay on in this fashion would be "disrespectful and outright robbery” of the community.
"Under these circumstances, I cannot justify accepting remuneration from my fellow ratepayers.”
Mr Cochrane was grateful for the opportunity to represent Gympie's Division 8.
"Words cannot express the gratitude that I hold for the people of the Mary Valley and greater Gympie Region for the honour of being your voice on council,” he said.
He wished the Mayor and other councillors the best, and hoped they "endeavour to listen to residents and stand up for them in their dealings with the ever-increasing rules and legislation controlling our lives today”.
A Gympie Regional Council spokeswoman said CEO Bernard Smith had confirmed Mr Cochrane's resignation, which was effective immediately.
"In accordance with the Local Government Act, a by-election must be held within 12 weeks to fill the vacancy in the office of councillor for Division 8,” she said. "All aspects of the by-election will be conducted by the ECQ.
"Mayor Mick Curran thanked Cr Cochrane for his time on council and congratulated him on making the courageous decision which was done in the best interests of the community.”
At the last council election Mr Cochrane took the division with 52.9 per cent of the vote, beating the incumbent Julie Walker. Ian Caulley was the only other candidate to run.
Elected at age 26, Mr Cochrane was the youngest representative that Gympie and the region had ever had, and was narrowly beaten for the title of youngest Queensland councillor by 21-year-old Lachlan Brennan in Goondoowindi.