FOR almost four decades he has served his beloved community of Port Stephens, yet on the eve of retirement Mayor Bruce Mackenzie has no plans to slow down.
In fact, in an ominous sign to his successors, the man known simply as ‘Macca’ says he retains a keen interest in civic affairs and won’t be sitting back idly.
“You will still hear me … if this place is being badly led I will be making a noise. I am not going to suddenly lose interest after nearly 40 years of service,” he warned.
“I am going to miss being able to help people and if someone comes to me with a problem they are having with the Council I will do what I can.”
First elected to Port Stephens Council in 1968, the popularly elected mayor says it was with a heavy heart that he decided not to recontest the 9 September council elections.
Mr Mackenzie took an 8-year hiatus from 2000, but returned with a vengeance to top the poll in 2008 and followed up in 2012 by becoming the Port’s first popular elected mayor.
Once a card carrying member of the Liberal Party, he has always fiercely defended his independence and believes there is no room in local government for party politics.
Love him or hate him, the self confessed dictatorial leader courted controversy on many fronts and on reflection he makes no apologies.
“I have never worried about my critics, they are the fringe minority. Groups such as Boomerang Park Action and TRRA have never bothered me.
“I may be a dictator but have a look at the results.
“My legacy is being able to assist in making this Council financially secure through clever investments, building roads, fixing drains, providing parks, the best sporting facilities and most importantly, providing aged care.
“And with the support of some great staff members I am proud to be leaving this council in great shape.”
Mr Mackenzie said that his determination to succeed in life and business stems from a poor upbringing, admitting that for a time his was the only family in Salt Ash without power.
He left school at 14, took on the Air Force and won and once sat on the floor of a Sydney office for two hours waiting for Defence to fulfil a promised payment.
These experiences taught him resilience and a hard work ethic. At 79, he still rises at 5am every morning to feed his stable of horses.
He may be retiring from his council duties, but Mr Mackenzie says his work life continues with his racehorses, cattle, commercial and agricultural property and extended family.
“I won’t be going anywhere.”
By Charlie ELIAS