Mayor looks back on early days
THE first thing Mayor Ron Bellingham did when he walked into his office on the first day as Warwick Shire Council's leader was to ask his chief executive officer for a job description.
"He scratched his head and must have wondered what the hell he had here," Cr Bellingham said.
The CEO came back with the Local Government Act, which contained about three lines on the top job.
Now, after 12 years in council, 76-year-old Cr Bellingham could probably write a series of books on his experiences as mayor.
But in the chambers for his first council meeting in 2000, it was a baptism of fire.
"I did have to have some degree of prompting as to what came next," he said. "Some very long-serving councillors weren't backward in coming forward with protocol."
A passionate student of leadership, to last more than a decade, he must have been a fast learner.
Whether it was his experiences as a six-year-old, leaving home and boarding in Warwick family homes for school, or his military service, after a successful career in business Cr Bellingham was determined to lead the community.
Earlier this week he announced he would stand down at the next election but yesterday he told the Daily News of what inspired him to stick up his hand in the first place.
"There was great dissension within our community at that time," he said.
"The aftermath of the first amalgamation created problems and it wasn't the community I knew.
"I went straight in as mayor and though I had no political experience, I didn't necessarily think that was a bad thing."
In his life before politics, Cr Bellingham was a successful businessman, owning a Mazda dealership for 35 years and before that a farm machinery business, which he opened in Killarney in 1958 and Warwick in 1963.
He met his wife Kath through his work and they married in 1961.
Now with three children and five grandchildren, Cr Bellingham said they are a tight family unit.
"All three children have been away and all three have come back," he said.
Their dedication to the Warwick community resembles their father's.
"I grew up on the Condamine and it's embedded in me a love of the land and a love of the region."