Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell has been busy during her eight years at the helm.
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell has been busy during her eight years at the helm. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Top 10 moments in Jenny Dowell's time as mayor

We at the Northern Star took a look through our archives to find 10 standout moments that hit the headlines.

 

Mayor Jenny Dowell certainly championed equality, environmental ethics, and tolerance. And in reality she championed Lismore as a diverse vibrant community with lots to offer.

As a result her Top 10, in no particular order, makes for interesting reading.

1) The time she was hit by an anti-fluoride campaigner with the car door.

 

FLUORIDE ON THE WAY: Rous Water has announced the fluoride will be in the shire's water by the end of August.  Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate
Rous Water has announced the fluoride will be in the shire's water by the end of August. Graham Broadhead

"My ear's still sore and red but it'll be right. I'm not bleeding and I don't think I'm concussed, so I'll be fine," she said.

While the mayor stressed the alleged assault was an "isolated incident", she did recount numerous verbal attacks from people who were anti-fluoride over the last two years. "I've been called Genocide Jenny, I've been called Hitler... that's happened on more than a dozen occasions by different people," Cr Dowell said.

She added that when people got into public office some people "no longer saw them as a person" or worthy of normal decent behaviour.

"You're fair game."

2) The fact they named a suit at The Lismore (a hotel in the US) after her.

 

Cr Jenny Dowell outside the suite at The Lismore Hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, named after her.
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell outside the suite at The Lismore Hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Facebook

After two years of renovations, the American hotel named after Lismore opened and had Cr Dowell was among the guests.

"I'm taking a lot of little Lismore hearts with me, and other bits about our city to give out," she said. "The people of Eau Claire will get a taste of Lismore over the week."

The two cities have been in partnership since 2001 but it wasn't until four young IT professionals bought a run-down motel in Eau Claire about two years ago that the partnership began to really flourish.

"They wondered what to call it and one day, one of the four was laying back on his couch when he Googled Eau Claire, opened Wikipedia and saw that Lismore was its sister city, so they thought they'd call it The Lismore," Cr Dowell said.

"So about 18 months ago he contacted me ... the four flew here and spent a day with me.

"They wanted to get a feel for Lismore, the architecture and the history, we did tours, I took them up to the Lismore Regional Library headquarters and they saw The Northern Star online.

"Then they connected via Trove and they decided to put a feature wall in all their guest rooms of old Northern Stars."

3) Jenny received the declarations from every town named CSG free and continued to support the movement

 

from left to right, Jenny Dowell, Mayor of Lismore, and Annie Kia, holding the baskets full of CSG (coal seam gas) Free Community declarations. Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and Annie Kia with baskets full of CSG Free Community declarations. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

When the CSG battle was at its most critical Cr Dowell received declarations from every town, eventually leading to signs being erected around the region declaring the 98% vote.

 

Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson and Lismore City mayor Jenny Dowell visit anti-csg demonstrators at Glenugie yesterday. Photo Contributed Jenny Dowell
Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson and Lismore City counterpart Jenny Dowell visit anti-CSG demonstrators at Glenugie. Contributed

Although not the only mayor to back the anti-CSG movement, her support proved to be critical.

As the final battle ground of Bentley drew its lines, a difference of opinion about the Bentley camp arose between the councils.

History has shown Cr Dowell came down on the right side of that debate.

 

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell at the No Gas Rig Gig at the Lismore Workers Club on Saturday night. Photo Contributed Jimmy Malecki
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell attends a No Gas Rig Gig at the Lismore Workers Club. Contributed Jimmy Malecki

4) Janelle Saffin and Jenny Dowell dancing ballet (video):

 

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell gets some pointers from dance teacher Megan Phillips, owner of the INXS Dance Academy. Jenny and Megan will be dance partners in the Stars of Lismore - Dance For Cancer event.
Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell gets some pointers from dance teacher Megan Phillips, owner of the INXS Dance Academy. Cathy Adams

http://www.northernstar.com.au/videos/janelle-and-jennys-dance-class/13184/

Page MP Janelle Saffin could not resist the temptation to show off her dancing credentials "in ballet and tap" to Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, at the opening of the refurbished Dance Studio at Lismore City Hall.

Never afraid to get in the limelight for a good cause Cr Dowell also took on Dancing With Stars Lismore with flair and enthusiasm it what was a great moment of leading by example.

5) When she posed in her mayoral robes with head shaved after her operation.

 

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell in 2008, in mayoral robes for the first time, gets a kiss from her proud husband Ron Dowell in the mayors office before the council meeting on Tuesday night. 
Photo Jacklyn Wagner / Northern Star
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell in 2008, in mayoral robes for the first time, gets a kiss from her proud husband Ron Dowell. Jacklyn Wagner

Shortly after becoming mayor, Cr Dowell was diagnosed with cancer.

 

The front page of the Northern Star.File Photo
The Northern Star reports Mayor Jenny Dowell's cancer diagnosis. Contributed

Her public battle was both empowering and courageous. As a result she posed in her mayoral robes after coming out of surgery and having her head shaved.

6) When she questioned why Lismore had been left off signage to turn off the Pacific Highway.

 

The front page showing the stouch between the two mayors. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
The Northern Star's take on the battle about highway signage. Marc Stapelberg

A lack of clear and permanent signage on the Pacific Highway upgrade had the mayors of Lismore City Council and Byron Shire at loggerheads.

"Frankly I'm annoyed that the views of a handful of people in Bangalow are being obstructionist and overly influential," she said.

"Lismore, after all, is the regional centre."

Cr Dowell, concerned by a lack of signage to Lismore, Nimbin and The Channon, publicly questioned Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson who supported the safer highway route via Ballina which alleviated the Bangalow congestion.

Both mayors, while open to compromise, are unapologetic about going in to bat for the business interests of their respective constituents.

7) The 50th anniversary celebration of the city relationship with Yamato Takada on August 7, 2013.

 

Mayor Jenny Dowell and Mayor Masakatsu Yoshida at the Lismore and Yamato Takada Sister City Relationship, 50th Anniversary, 7 th August 1963-2013 and Official Opening of the Refurbishmients to Lismore City Hall.
Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
Mayor Jenny Dowell and Mayor Masakatsu Yoshida at the Lismore and Yamato Takada Sister City Relationship 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

In a world full of turmoil and upheaval it is encouraging to see community leaders reaching out in the spirit of friendship.

These moments may seem more show than reality but they engender a familiarity that defeats ignorance.

Lismore has the oldest sister city relationship in the country.

The celebration of the golden anniversary of Lismore's partnership with the Japanese city of Yamato Takada in 1963, included the unveiling a monument by Yamato Takada Mayor Masakatsu Yoshida and Cr Dowell.

Lismore City Hall's monument physically reflects the growth of friendship between the cities: it's a Japanese maple tree.

8) Providing massive support for the new Regional Gallery which is expected to become the cultural hub of Lismore in years to come.

 

Mayor Jenny Dowell and Lismore Regional Gallery, Brett Adlington, in front of C Block. The Council has voted to apply for a grant to fund the new Lismore Art Gallery.     Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell and Lismore Regional Gallery's Brett Adlington at the gallery. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

The Regional Gallery could be a vital part of Lismore's future as validated by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

Although, the gallery was not always a guarantee at the time of its conception.

Lobbying of government as well as public contributions and Lismore City Council funding means the project finally got off the ground.

More importantly Cr Dowell and Lismore City Council removed themselves from the vote on the DA thereby ensuring the project was above board and beyond reproach.

9) Riding shotgun in the vintage car at Tropical Fruits Parade.

 

The Tropical Fruits Parade 2015 down Molesworth Street in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Lismore City Mayour Jenny Dowell jins in the The Tropical Fruits Parade in 2015. Marc Stapelberg

The fight against homophobia and discrimination is never over.

The fact that the mayor of a town joins in with the parade is significant because it recognises the contribution that the Tropical Fruit event brings to Lismore, and once again highlights the incredible participation level that Cr Dowell has in the community as a public leader.

10) When the Lismore-based Northern United took on the Maclean-based Lower Clarence in the rugby league semi-finals, Cr Dowell threw her support behind her home town team.

 

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell attends the Northern United semi-final game at Crozier Field in Lismore.  Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell attends the Northern United rugby league semi-final at Crozier Field. Marc Stapelberg

Showing once again her understanding that community is made up of lots of different groups with lots of different interests, Jenny supported and engaged with the local league team, often sitting in the grandstand to watch the game.

The Mayor's Top 10 Moments in her own words.

"It's impossible for me to choose 10 things.," she said.

"There have been thousands of wonderful, moving and memorable moment in my time as mayor.

"As a politician, I strongly feel that my top 10 moments should and will be judged by others, and they will be different for everyone. Different people see different things as significant.

"This was very hard but I found myself choosing moments and things that have touched me on some human level and connected me with my community."

1. Hanging the Aboriginal flags in the Council Chambers in my first term. It was also in my first term that we did our first Acknowledgement to Country. This was momentous at the time and a big step for council, which was very touching. It showed how far we had come in terms of respect and relationships, the hallmarks of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

 

Lismore Council Lord Mayor Jenny Dowell pictured in The Lismore City Council Chyambers. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Lismore Council Lord Mayor Jenny Dowell in The Lismore City Council Chyambers. Patrick Gorbunovs

2. My second is something only a mayor can do - Citizenship Ceremonies. The stories people tell you about becoming an Australian citizen are so varied, personal and deeply moving. Whether it's a refugee or someone who has lived and worked here in Australia all their lives, each story is unique. Some of the most poignant have been from those who have fled a war-torn country and have found sanctuary in Australia.

 

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowel at the Australia Day ceremony at the Goonellabah Aquatic and Sport Centre in Goonellabah. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowel at the Australia Day ceremony at the Goonellabah Aquatic and Sport Centre in Goonellabah. Marc Stapelberg

3. The 50th anniversary of our sister city relationship with Yamato Takada in 2013. A delegation including the mayor visited the city and stayed for week. They showed such generosity and delight in coming here. We held a children's day at Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and for me that was the highlight. The whole aim of a sister city relationship is to build cultural understanding through our young people. We had young Japanese people teaching our local students about their culture, artwork, games and pastimes. It was so down-to-earth and lots of fun.

 

Mayor Jenny Dowell and Mayor Masakatsu Yoshida at the  Lismore and Yamato Takada Sister City Relationship, 50th Anniversary, 7 th August 1963-2013 and Official Opening of the Refurbishmients to Lismore City Hall.
Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
Mayor Jenny Dowell and Mayor Masakatsu Yoshida at the Lismore and Yamato Takada Sister City Relationship 50th Anniversary. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

4. The town and gown relationship between Lismore and SCU is most obvious in the annual academic procession that precedes the September graduation. That tradition started with my mayoralty and more and more people stop to watch as they go about their Saturday morning shopping.

 

Trevor Wilson, Deputy Chancellor and Jenny Dowell, Mayor of Lismore.
Southern Cross University Graduation Ceremony 2012
Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
Southern Cross University deputy chancellor Trevor Wilson and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell during the 2012 graduation ceremony. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

5. Of course the Lismore Regional Gallery must be included. I have decades of plans from failed attempts to secure funding so the December 2015 announcement of a federal grant to fund a new gallery was a momentous day. It was my idea to launch a pledge campaign that raised $100,000 to boost private donations to $680,000. The approval of the Development Application was the last major step for the gallery to become a reality. The awarding of the tender on August 2 is the final step in the process.

 

Margaret Olley Art Trust trustee Philip Bacon with Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington at the announcement of the funding support for the new gallery by the Margaret Olley Arts Trust.  Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Margaret Olley Art Trust trustee Philip Bacon with Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington at the announcement of the funding support for the new gallery by the Margaret Olley Arts Trust. Marc Stapelberg

6. This council's sustainability initiatives in waste, solar power, biodiversity protection and enhancement are both a legacy and a foundation for future councils. Having just attended the sixth Rural Landholder Initiative field days, I can only echo the words of one participant: Partnerships are achieving wonders.

 

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell talks with the new MRF staff at the official launch of the new recycling centre. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell talks with MRF staff at the official launch of the new recycling centre. Marc Stapelberg

7. I may be biased but I love that more young people are proud to say they live in Lismore. It's natural for many to want to spread their wings elsewhere but I know they now speak positively about the Back Alley Gallery, arts and music scene, the skateparks and BMX tracks. I also am proud that I can engage lots of young people on Facebook.

 

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and Justine Elliot MP officially open the Nimbin skate park. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and Justine Elliot MP officially open the Nimbin skate park. Jay Cronan

8. The cafe culture in Lismore is booming. Council has removed lots of red-tape barriers to businesses wanting to open or expand. We have the best cafes and restaurants in the Northern Rivers and each has a look and feel of its own. Many display the artworks of our creative locals too.

 

Cafe One One 4, Lismore. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Cafe One One 4, Lismore. Patrick Gorbunovs

9. Imagine Lismore was our award-winning community engagement process. We reached out to people of all ages across the council area in a whole new way to ask them what they valued about Lismore. My favourite part was the display of primary school children's drawings about what they wanted to see in Lismore. The drawings featured wonderful playgrounds, bike paths, solar panels and the occasional no CSG sign. Clever kids.

 

Imagining the future vision of Lismore shirei are Georgia Meredith anf her mother Anca Meredith  of Lismore pictured in Magellan stree talking with Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell.. Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star
Georgia Meredith and her mother Anca Meredith talk with Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell about the future of the city. Jacklyn Wagner

10 Finally, the opportunity to be a spokesperson for the community on lots of issues is an enormous honour. To be part of the movement to defeat CSG in Lismore and the region was history-making. From that first rally at The Channon to all the other declaration ceremonies across the LGA, I was honoured, humbled and deeply moved to be part of a peaceful revolution. We were determined and we prevailed.

 

Lismore City Mayor, Jenny Dowell, with almost 250 CSG-free road declarations completed in the LGA.
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell with almost 250 CSG-free road declarations completed in the LGA.

"So thank you Lismore. Thank you to my fellow councillors over 12 and a half years and the wonderful council staff.

"This has been the most amazing journey."