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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Orange council pays tribute to longest serving Mayor

Orange City Council has paid tribute to long-serving former Mayor, John Davis OAM, following his passing this week.

Mr Davis was Orange’s longest serving Mayor and led the city during a time of unprecedented investment in public infrastructure, current Mayor, Jason Hamling said today.

“I’d like to pass on my condolences to his family and thank them for sharing John with us over decades of outstanding public service,” said Mayor Hamling.

“He was a larger-than-life character and it’s hard to think of him not being around. He was part of the fabric of this city.

“Local politics can be pretty rough and tumble, but John always put the city first. He was a big-picture thinker and at the centre of his decision-making was, ‘will this make the city better and deliver for the community?’ If the answer was yes, he would find a way.”

Council Civic Centre flags are being flown at half-mast in honour of Mr Davis.

Council CEO, David Waddell said Mr Davis had a lasting impact on the Orange community.

“As Mayor, John Davis was able to strike a good balance between listening to the community, but also being thick-skinned enough to tough it out when he faced opposition,” Mr Waddell said.

“Major community infrastructure projects like the Macquarie pipeline or building the Northern Distributor Road were always going to face criticism, but John Davis had the ability to listen to critics but then publicly sell a controversial project to the community.

“He was always on the lookout for the next big project and was ready to go to Sydney or Canberra to find the money. Orange is in a much better position water-wise because of decisions taken during the years he served on Council delivering the pipeline, stormwater harvesting scheme and raising the height of the wall at Suma Park Dam.”

Mr Davis served on local councils for more 30 years, having served on Blayney Shire Council from 1987 to 2004 and on Orange City Council from 2004 to 2017. Twelve of Mr Davis’s 13 years on Orange Council were spent as mayor.

Born and bred in Orange, he was a student at Orange Public School and Orange High School, where he excelled as a footballer. In 1976 Mr Davis married Kay Miskell and settled in Kay’s hometown of Blayney. He was Mayor of Blayney from 1994 to 2004. During this time, he was also coach and president of the Blayney Bears Rugby League Club.

Following a move to Orange in 2003, he ran for Council in the March 2004 elections. He was successfully elected Mayor. Mr Davis served two terms as mayor: 2004 to 2008 and 2009 to 2017.

In 2013 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to local government and to the community of Orange.

Mr Davis chose not to stand in the September 2017 elections.

Major projects during his terms as Mayor of Orange include the construction of the Macquarie pipeline, the stormwater harvesting scheme, raising the height of the dam wall at Suma Park, the PCYC, the indoor swimming pool at the Aquatic Centre and the Northern Distributor Road.

He was also a strong advocate for the establishment of the Orange Health Service at Bloomfield.

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