By Corey Everitt
Cardinia Shire Cr Tammy Radford is enjoying her first days off from serving as mayor even though the feeling is bittersweet, as she reflects on the triumphs and challenges of her inaugural term in the top job.
On Monday 13 November the council held its annual election for a new mayor for the 2023-24 year where Cr Radford officially departed the role and handed over the ceremonial robes to her former deputy mayor, Cr Jack Kowarzik.
After a year as mayor, she is getting back to the role of councillor and is looking forward to focusing on her ward.
“It’s quite weird, you always have so many things to do as mayor and there are still many things for me to do still as a councillor, but I got up this morning thinking what do I do now?,” she said.
“Now I’ll be focusing on Officer Ward and continuing the advocacy I did during mayor.”
Reflecting back, Cr Radford feels one of the biggest hallmarks of her time was the fate of Sealing the Hills, a road program that was cut by the Federal Government.
“Within two weeks of me being mayor I was off to Canberra with the mayor for Yarra Ranges,” she said.
“There was a lot of conversations with the government and we managed to still get $41m of funding.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get all of the funding back, but considering that initially it was a hard ‘no’ at the start, we really presented our case and fought for the funding and I’m proud we were able to get that done.”
The challenges came quickly as she took the proverbial plunge as mayor last November, one of which, as it is for many, was dealing with the media.
“Being mayor you are approached at any time and you have to be across everything, you can’t just say ‘oh I don’t know about this’,” she said.
“At first, the media was a bit scary, I probably wasn’t expecting how much I had to take on, but as time went by I definitely became much more confident.”
As much as Cr Radford will remember the valuable lessons, she will most of all remember the moments that made her proud to represent her community.
“The citizenship ceremonies were always a privilege, I initiated 1700 people in the community as citizens, just being a part of that and facilitating the ceremonies was a true honour,” she said.
“I loved reaching out to youth and getting them engaged in the community. I really wanted to inspire particular young women in leadership and be a positive role model. I hope I’ve made some young women take on roles at school and beyond.”
As she adorned Cr Kowarzik on Monday night with the mayor’s ceremonial regalia, it was hard to miss the pride she felt for her former deputy.
“It’s a massive task and I think he is going to do a great job. Obviously he will be different and have his own leadership, but having worked with him I can see his qualities,” she said.
“I would say to him you have to be really strict with your diary, you can be called upon at any time, but you need to make sure you make time for your family, they will always be there with you and they must always be a priority.”
As she has departed as mayor and continues as the Officer Ward’s councillor, she is thankful for her family.
“It was a challenge I wanted to take on and they supported me all of the way,” she said.
“I really wanted to be a positive role model to my kids as I followed my passion for the community and they were right by me through all of it.”