He’s been retired from council for barely a year, but former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie says he’s ready for another run at local government.
Fairfax Media can reveal Mr MacKenzie will stand to become a councillor at the next poll, which is two years away.
He confirmed his intention on Friday when Fairfax Media contacted him about a newspaper advertisement published under his name this week that heavily criticised Port Stephens Council.
Mr MacKenzie said he was “not very pleased” with the current crop of councillors, who were elected last year.
But he said he would “never run for the mayor’s job again” and ruled out a tilt at the state seat of Port Stephens in early 2019.
“I’m rejuvenated and ready to go,” he said. “I’ll be standing next council election as a ward councillor.”
Mr MacKenzie retired last September after nine years as mayor, almost five decades since he was first elected to council – he took an eight-year hiatus between 2000 and 2008.
Read more: Macka considers running for Port seat (2014)
The news came a day after the former mayor took out a half-page ad in The Port Stephens Examiner criticising council over the impact he believed a proposed seven-year rate rise – which could be as high as 8.5 per cent per annum – would have on the community.
The ad warned ratepayers to “watch out” and mentioned a broad range of topics, including childcare costs, interest rates, the price of medical care, children living in poverty and the plight of small business owners who “are doing it tough”.
Mr MacKenzie said the ad was not linked to his decision to stand again for council.
He said a rate rise was “absolutely disgraceful in this climate”.
“We carried out the duties of elected representatives of people in a good economic manner [during his tenure on council]. I don’t think that’s happening at the present time,” he said. “The most distressing thing about it is they’re like kids in a lolly shop throwing ideas around about what they want.”
When asked about the ad, Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer said he welcomed all community feedback and suggested Mr MacKenzie make a submission through council’s online portal.
“We are proposing infrastructure works of up to $180 million that have been requested by our community over a long period of time,” he said.
“The previous council knew what we know and that’s why they chose to borrow funds to complete projects. This council is seeking to deliver for the future of the Port Stephens community.
“All the projects have come from the community and we will always put the needs of the community first, now and into the future.”