Olwen calls it a day

Olwen calls it a day

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Olwen Searle has a message for voters. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Open drains, no kerbs and no footpaths – these were the issues Olwen Searle was concerned with when she joined Gosnells City council in 1979.

Fast forward 42 years and the veteran councillor has decided to call it a day after an illustrious local government career.

Ms Searle will retire as the third longest-serving councillor in Gosnells’ history, a 39-year-stretch interrupted only by a three-year break between 1987 and 1991

Her impetus for joining council was simple.

She thought she could fix the world.

“I saw there was so much to be done and there was no female representation on council.

“I thought I was going to fix the world.

“When I got on I thought I knew everything about everything, and then I found I knew nothing about municipal budgets.”

While she laments the demise of the ward system, believing its removal has weakened local knowledge, she is incredibly proud of the services the city has introduced, and names Mills Park as her biggest achievement.

“I’m proud of the way the path we have trod has delivered some wonderful services.

“When I started we had a recreation officer for half a week, now it’s a whole industry.

“The libraries, the play equipment, the parks, the sporting venues, I’ve seen such wonderful improvement over the years.

“I’m very proud of Mills Park, I took a great deal of interest in that and it’s such a hub for the people and the children.”

Ms Searle also has a message for prospective councillors expecting an easy ride.

“Those who get elected to council need to be very mindful of the amount of personal time that is required to carry out the duties of a councillor in a really exceptional way.

“Anyone who is working a full day, it doesn’t leave them a lot of time for councillor work.

It’s more than going to a meeting, to do the job right you need to have the time.”

Ms Searle said she was going to start off her retirement by learning computing and joining community groups in the Gosnells area.