Steve Ruddell is accustomed to performing to a crowd as a well known local singer and guitarist.
But COVID restrictions put paid to that and in the past year he's been sitting in the audience, or more precisely, the gallery at council meetings.
Sometimes it's just him. Other times he's surrounded by people keenly watching debate on controversial matters.
Regardless, the experience has given the Goulburn Mulwaree Council candidate an idea of what to expect.
"I believe I can think about things rationally, weigh up the pros and cons and make a considered decision," he said.
"You need to put the work in behind the scenes and do the reading and research."
Mr Ruddell was born in Sydney but has spent most of his life in Goulburn. The self-confessed 'car nut' worked for 20 years as a motor mechanic before becoming an inspector at the Marulan Heavy Vehicle Checking Station. He owned a windscreen business, worked as a security guard and 12 years ago purchased Owen's Driver Training School. These days he specialises in teaching NDIS clients how to drive.
In between, he performed in several local bands, including the Swamp Donkeys and Rock Dogs. Now, he mostly sings solo or in duos in pubs and clubs.
"I like to be involved in the community," Mr Ruddell said of his decision to run for council.
"I've recently joined Rotary and the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce and it's about making the community a better place. A lot of people take out of community but don't want to put in."
He told The Post he had no real agenda other than wanting the place to thrive. However he cited more music festivals, improved services for people with disabilities, and better use of the "under-utilised" Goulburn TAFE for trade courses and more courses at the Country Universities Centre.
While the State oversaw TAFE and other services, he argued the council played a vital advocacy role.
"We have one of the better locations in NSW and a rail corridor that is probably under-utilised. There's an opportunity to improve passenger services and get wagon repair here," Mr Ruddell said.
"...I'd (also) like to make Goulburn a destination rather than a place to drop into. I want to get more events here and I think the Performing Arts Centre will be a big drawcard."
As a life member of the Goulburn Basketball Association, with 40 years' involvement, he's keen to harness more sporting fixtures for the area and continue the sports tourism push.
He believed a councillor needed a holistic view, looking after all sectors, including the multicultural community, and the surrounding villages.
Before COVID restrictions Mr Ruddell attended several rural community meetings about future development.
While lauding the amount of infrastructure building in recent years, he's urging a cautious approach on future spending.
"With interest rates (possibly rising) we may need to pull back a bit and be wiser about where we're spending money," he said.
"We're a growing area and we have to provide the infrastructure to support that."
In the same vein, he argued the development application process needed to be further streamlined to solve what he said was "frustration" in the construction industry over delays. At the same time, it was important to balance community views on controversial projects.
Mr Ruddell said it was important to work as a team and accept the majority decision.
"If you sit on council you need to have a lot of input; I feel it's important to participate," he said.
"It's not just about having buttons on your shoulder saying 'I'm a councillor'. I won't promise anything but I will promise to work hard."
The election will be held on Saturday, December 4.
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