Councillors say their farewells

Retiring Deputy Mayor Jason Cook, councillor Janice Holstein, and councillor Rick Vela at their last ordinary meeting on 13 March. Picture: GRACE CRICHTON

Three retiring councillors were farewelled by their colleagues in Lockyer Valley Regional Council’s ordinary meeting on 13 March.

Janice Holstein, Jason Cook, and Rick Vela did not run in the 2024 local government election, instead choosing to step back from local politics.

Mrs Holstein wrapped up 24 years in elected government and intends to spend more time with her grandchildren.

She thanked the many people she worked with in her time, including four different mayors, four CEOs, and more than 20 different councillors.

“We’ve had a few laughs, maybe a few tears, but I think we have achieved a lot for the community,” she said.

There were several noteworthy highlights in her 24 year career, including connecting Withcott to town water in 2001, constructing the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre in 2009, and the Grantham land swap after the 2011 floods.

She commended the council disaster management team.

“I think from where we were in 2011 to where we are now there’s a huge difference,” she said.

“I know in disaster management circles Lockyer Valley’s really looked to for how to do things.”

Lockyer Valley Regional Council mayor Tanya Milligan said Mrs Holstein was an ‘absolute powerhouse’ of a councillor.

“For me, it’s been a real privilege to work with you,” she said.

“You will be missed and you’ve made a great contribution.”

Mr Vela also reflected on his time as a councillor since he was appointed in the by-election of 2018.

“I’d like to acknowledge the amazing work that all of our community groups do,” he said.

“When you’re on council you get to go and see all those events and they’re amazing.”

Cr Milligan said Mr Vela was ‘absolutely committed’ in his term and always did his homework.

“I’ve really appreciated that, that you’ve really just dug in deep and really got to know the business,” she said.

Former Deputy Mayor Jason Cook has hung up his hat after taking on the role when he was elected in 2016.

“Thanks to the community for trusting me in this role,” he said.

Mr Cook said there was mutual respect among the elected councillors and debates never ended in a grudge.

“Our communication’s been pretty good with each other but there’s always been that respect,” he said.

“To the staff, I think they get the rough end of the pineapple a lot of the time too.

“I think they do a good job, I think they do a fantastic job, there’s some really good people here.”

Cr Milligan said she appreciated his ability to always be available and his ‘brave and bold’ approach.

There was one final point Mr Cook sought to clear up at the meeting.

“One other thing, if you’re talking to anybody there’s a couple of things I need to clarify,” he said.

“I’m not moving to the coast and I’m not running the leagues club.”