Ron’s satisfaction was in ‘making lives better’

Brighton’s long-serving General Manager Ron Sanderson retires at the end of June.  He reflects on his successes and what he will miss about the job: 

BRIGHTON Municipality’s long-serving general manager Ron Sanderson, who retires this month says his greatest satisfaction throughout his tenure was to be able to make a difference to the lives of ordinary people.

“As an engineer and previously working for hard-nosed, multi-national oil companies, it has been a very rewarding experience to come into local government and actually make a difference to the life of ordinary people and not work for a company just in it to make profits,” Ron said.

Brighton's general manager Ron Sanderson who retires at the end of June.
Brighton’s general manager Ron Sanderson who retires at the end of June.

“While many requests often mean little to a large bureaucracy, I have been particularly humbled that I have been able to make a difference to the life of someone in our community.

“That is the importance of what we do in local government.  What can we do to help our people make their lives better?”

“There is a trust and a dedication in local government that sometimes others don’t recognise, particularly those at the top end of town, or those who have a political agenda.

“But communities really want to be represented at a local level, and this was very much the response of recent local government surveys that asked what people really think about their local government representatives, both elected and council officers. It also came home to all of us, with ratepayers quite adamantly stating they wanted local representation for their particular needs, no matter how small their community.

“At the same time, it has also been particularly satisfying to see our Municipality grow and prosper and to know that we have the plans in place to continue to see that happen.”

Personally, Ron Sanderson said he has been proud of many achievements under his watch, with perhaps the greatest the sewage effluent reuse project that removed all sewage effluent discharge from the Derwent River by the year 2000. Brighton’s scheme was the first to discharge on farmland for beneficial reuse.

He is also proud of the day former Premier Jim Bacon asked him to take over the administration of Kentish Council to get it back on track.

Another highlight was the establishment of the Council’s own information technology software company.

“I was particularly grateful for the willingness of Council to accept what was the unconventional and unexpected when we established a software company in Microwise that is benefiting our whole community.

“In my opinion Brighton is the best run and smoothest operating council Tasmania and I thank our officers and our councillors for allowing that to happen during my tenure.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the very best people and they will go far in their respective positions.  At the same time, I’ve also had the privilege of being able to mentor people in their roles and to encourage them on to further education. We have a significant number who have gone on to graduate from university and even take on further education in masters’ degrees in their areas of speciality. It is very satisfying knowing you have been a motivator in helping Council officers reach their full potential. This part of my job has been very dear to my heart.

“I think it is been gratifying to see the success that we as a Council have been able to achieve and to know that I have been part of that success.”

So what is Ron going to miss?

“Well obviously the camaraderie will be the biggest void – you don’t get to work with such good people over so many years and walk away and feel nothing.  We have a great group of people and the work-based relationships we have formed will be with me forever.”

And lastly but not least, Ron has left the best to the end.

“My wife Maureen has been my rock and my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t have able to achieve without her by my side. We do everything together and she is a wonderful sounding board on issues that may need an outside opinion.  I am very, very grateful for the wonderful years we have had together and her absolute support.”