Redlands Mayor Karen Williams with new granddaughter Rose.
Redlands Mayor Karen Williams with new granddaughter Rose.

Mayor’s special ray of sunshine in virus darkness

AFTER 16 years at Redlands City Council Mayor Karen Williams has seen plenty: the Great Financial Crisis, bushfires and astronomical rates rises (and reductions) but nothing quite like the chaos the COVID-19 virus is inflicting upon community right now.

"There are days when it's tough - this week, the last two weeks for me have been really tough, just knowing that there are people out there that are losing their job every day ... but you want to be there to serve them and do what you can to get some sense of normality... going through the thick and thin is what builds community.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams, Photo: AAP/Richard Walker
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams, Photo: AAP/Richard Walker

"At the moment I think the future is about trying to rebuild after what we're going to be facing over the next couple of months, potentially longer.

"And you really do need a steady hand on the wheel to get through that.

"In my experience with disaster management - I've actually had 12 years as chair of the local disaster management group - those partnerships with emergency services, they all come into play at times like this and I feel like I'm best placed to get us through the worst of this time."

Speaking at Wellington Point today, on a day when she would usually would be bustling from polling booth to polling booth to meet voters and thank volunteers, Karen Williams reflected on a almost two decades of leadership.

"It's an absolute privilege - through the thick and the thin, the good and the bad, to be able to serve the community that's nurtured you ... you know they say it takes a village to raise a child and I feel like I'm a result of that great sense of community, so it's always a privilege."

Cr Williams was elected to Division 9 in 2004, and in 2012 - as Australia recovered from the GFC - successfully campaigned to become the region's mayor.

"One of the reasons I was inspired to run for mayor was to make sure we could bring back into line people's expectations and the incredible cost of living... so we've since then managed to keep a downward pressure on rates."

She said what would keep the region going this time around would be programs and projects previously planned and ready to go to boost the region's economy.

"I think over the last few years its been about building those strong relationships, partnerships and the potential now to deliver $2 billion worth of projects to the city, and it can't come at a better time for what we're facing economically; to have those things ready to go and have shovels in the ground (to create local jobs).

"So that's happened though partnerships... during this term of council we've managed to rebuild some unity amongst my colleagues, and I think that is a bonus for the city, being able to agree to disagree and be able to do it politely."

While recent weeks have been testing for the Redlands' mayor, there has been an especially bright beacon of hope keeping her going - five-day-old granddaughter Rose.

Beautiful baby Rose is Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams ray of sunshine during the COVID-19 Crisis.
Beautiful baby Rose is Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams ray of sunshine during the COVID-19 Crisis.

"She has been my little ray of sunshine amongst the dark clouds of the COVID virus in the last number of days, my fourth generation Redlander named after my mother who was a refugee, who made a life for us here in the Redlands.

"(She's) just a really lovely, timely addition to our family - she's beautiful, my daughter and her husband are terrific parents and come what may I'll have another role from now on in my life, and that will be being the world's best grandmother, and supporting my kids and my husband as we start to enjoy this next generation of Redlander."

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Originally published as Mayor's special ray of sunshine in virus darkness



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