It is safe to say those who witnessed the four-hour-long January ordinary meeting of Lithgow City Council were left with many feelings after a long evening of heated exchanges.
Despite a wide sense of bewilderment, one thing was clear- for whatever reason (election year or otherwise) tensions between Councillors were growing, which contributed to the length of the meeting.
The business papers for the meeting were 64 pages. November 2023's meeting was half an hour shorter, despite having 97 pages of the business paper.
I feel the meeting may have been shorter had there been less time focused on attacking each other and more time on the matter at hand.
I think myself and the community believe councillors are capable of more than resorting to unnecessary and time-wasting attacks on each other.
Mayor Maree Statham told the Lithgow Mercury she believes that personality clashes contribute to the disruptions at Council meetings.
"I'm all for a good debate, but when it gets out of hand, it's not right," she said.
"There's a very big difference between argumentative and a debate, and the public are watching whether there is an election or not."
Residents on social media are citing the tensions to the September elections, which Mayor Statham said she would be disappointed to think is the issue.
"It's very early days, the elections are not until September. I feel if it is an election stunt that people sometimes pull, it's a disgrace," she said.
"We're here for the community. We're here for the public. And we're here to make a change and a difference. And with the negativity, I think it's quite embarrassing."
Four of the Councillors ran as candidates on the same ticket in the 2021 elections and residents on social media had cited the dynamics as part of the issue- but Cr Statham said she doesn't favour those over others despite these claims.
"I believe I'm very fair. And I will never favour my team. I've got no intention of playing favourites," Cr Statham said.
"I don't care who it is, They're another Councillor to me. I'm not unfair to the other people on whatever they want to call the other team.
"The bottom line is, we are elected by the public to do the very best work that we can do, to have a vision to keep Lithgow on the map for the right reasons."
Whether you are a resident, Councillor or executive, there's no denying the meetings can take ugly turns and not only does it take time, but it takes emotional energy.
"At the moment, it's quite distasteful and I think it's such a shame," Cr Statham said.
All that time and emotional energy can be retained if our Councillors can put those issues aside and focus on why they want to be there- to serve our community and its needs.
Right now our community needs our elected representatives to maintain decorum and focus on leading us into the future. It's achievable and unlike the bickering, it's essential.