Councillors

Mayor Cr Sam Coupland web

Mayor
Cr Sam Coupland
0402 024 120
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Special request for the Mayor's attendance

Sam was raised on a mixed farming property east of Tamworth and came to Armidale for school and university. After twenty years working in Sydney and abroad he and his wife chose to raise their children in Armidale so they could enjoy all the benefits of a thriving regional city.

Early in his career, Sam worked for the international consulting firm Ernst & Young before becoming an owner of the specialist advisory firm FMRC (which has its origins in Armidale). In this role he works with businesses to improve profitability, identify growth opportunities and build employment.

In 2016, wanting to return to his roots in agriculture, Sam established and now operates a large scale cattle business in North Queensland. As a business owner, Sam has spent the past 20 years improving businesses or building them from the ground up.  He has employed people through the good times and carried them through the tough times.  

Sam brings a unique skillset and perspective to the Armidale Regional Council:

  • the financial and analytical skills developed working with leading businesses in Australia and overseas;
  • hands-on management expertise from the last 15 years as the owner of two small businesses employing 12 people;
  • mediation and negotiation skills and a love of working with people of all walks of life; 
  • a deep seated understanding that those without personal agency should also have a voice (having the privilege of being the father of a child with a disability).

 Cr Todd Redwood web

Deputy Mayor
Cr Todd Redwood
0414 689 508
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Todd, raised and schooled in Armidale, recently relocated to the region to raise and school his young family after a 30-year international career. 

His career began as a chef in various parts of the world, then cookery teacher at Tamworth TAFE before moving into the corporate world two decades ago. 

Returning to Sydney as a management systems consultant, trainer and auditor he was next approached to resuscitate the Australian Dental Association NSW, Centre for Professional Dental Development as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director.

Most recently, and for close to a decade, he’s worked for The British Standards Institution (BSI), a Royal Charter, not for distributed profit, standards, business improvement and organisational resilience leader. His current Global Director role – which pre-COVID required him to travel extensively – now enables him to work from home in Armidale and lead his team around the world. 

Todd is an agile leader, improvement specialist, team builder and inclusive collaborator who is committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable regional centre, attractive to new families and businesses and facilitated by a progressive council. As a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he is cognisant of the fiduciary duties of councillors as directors of an organisation. He’s committed to ensuring our community of tomorrow will provide his daughters and their peers the same opportunities he had, while attracting them to remain in – or return to – the region with their own families.

 Cr Margaret OConnor web

Cr Margaret O'Connor
0427 677 991
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 Cr Debra O Brien web

Cr Debra O'Brien
0429 672 168
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Cr Debra O’Brien has been living in Armidale for 30 years, firstly as an undergraduate student then, after working all over Australia and overseas as a post-graduate student and contract lecturer at UNE in the disciple of education, specifically Aboriginal Education. More broadly Debra’s passion is how governments at all levels can ensure more people have access to quality education, as well as health, employment, transport, housing and income support.  

Debra’s desire to run for council stems from the belief that local government is the closest level of government to the people and provides great opportunity to engage face to face to help create the communities they need and love. Also, her observations are that “Often councils can be held captive to the most powerful people with the loudest voices. We need to encourage more grassroots input into policy if we are to achieve genuine representation. And we need to value the talents of our local people.”

Cr O’Brien’s proudest achievements in council has been, as Chair of the Community Wellbeing Committee, resulting in changes to the local procurement policy, the hardship policy and the extension of safety lighting along the cycleway from Girraween to the UNE. It is why Debra continues to advocate for the hydrotherapy pool and improvements to regional transport. A community cannot be prosperous if it ignores disadvantage.

Debra’s goal is to continue to work with fellow councillors to create a strong, accountable, transparent and progressive Council that serves the best interests of all citizens. 

As a proud member of the Australian Labor Party, Debra will continue to advocate to other levels of Government on issues such as the looming housing crisis and improvement to all services in the regions.  “We cannot grow without government investment into vital infrastructure and services.”

 Cr Susan McMichael web

Cr Susan McMichael
0415 750 434
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Susan McMichael is an Armidale resident who was born in Sydney, grew up in Canberra and moved to Armidale to study at the University of New England, and has stayed ever since. Susan has worked in a number of industries including book selling, television and the community service sector.
 
Over the past twenty five years, Susan has been on a number of boards including Armidale Community Radio, New  England Writers' Centre, Armidale Women's Centre, and Armidale Family Support Service. 
Susan is currently a member of the Armidale Neighbourhood Centre Management Committee and works with New England Family Support as a case worker, as well as being an administration assistant at the Uniting Church.
 
Susan has had her writing professionally published in a number of magazines including Australian Poetry, Cordite, foame, Salome, Redoubt, Skylines, Newcastle poets’ collection Heartweather, Colloquy and Microbe. Susan’s first book of poetry, Green Hair, was published by local publishers Blue Tongue Press in 2010. 
 
Susan is passionate about the Armidale Region and council services, applying her diverse range of skills and local knowledge, Susan is looking forward to ensuring Council delivers for our region.

 Cr Paul Gaddes web

Cr Paul Gaddes
0418 686 175
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Now residing in Armidale along with wife Nichole and son Luke, Councillor Paul Gaddes is motivated to serve Armidale Region and harness the many opportunities available for our community to evolve. With parents in Armidale and his brother's family in Guyra, moving to Armidale was a choice for lifestyle and family after an early retirement from his corporate career.
 
From the beginnings of completing a Degree in Aerospace Engineering, the switch to corporate life via Management Consulting soon became a path into Technology. A rewarding career of over 25 years in the Technology industry has offered Cr Gaddes the opportunity to live in the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore. With the last 15 years of this in Leadership roles for global software organisations, focus has been to operate and grow sustainable enterprises.
 
Success in the corporate world has revolved around responsibly managing business, keeping organisations in the black, and collaborating with stakeholders to make decisions based on due diligence, facts & outcomes that bring the most benefit to the broadest audience. 
 
Ultimately, a business should always be about looking after its customers. Our Council is no different. I resolve to bring my expertise & experiences to benefit the people of Armidale Region.  

 Cr Dorothy Robinson web

Cr Dorothy Robinson
0490 037 955
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 Dr Dorothy Robinson is passionate about making the Armidale Region healthy and sustainable. She has lived in Armidale for over 30 years, and enjoyed a career as principal scientist researching animal genetics, statistics and ways to reduce global warming.

She used her mathematical and scientific skills to build a passive solar house in 1991 with very low energy bills. Since installing rooftop solar panels (that paid for themselves in 4 years) in 2010, her home has exported more electricity than it uses. If councils could negotiate deals (and appropriate environmental safeguards) with renewable energy developers, entire regions could enjoy clean, low-cost energy, without harming the environment, agricultural productivity or visual amenity.

Dorothy believes quality of life is just as important as growth, and that communities need fair rates and charges. Councils should fight cost-shifting from other levels of government and advocate strongly for fair funding to attract the necessary people and services– health, hydrotherapy, community services, affordable housing, safe roads, subsidies to improve the efficiency of existing houses (similar or better than in Victoria and the ACT) and meet World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines.

Sustainable development means encouraging sustainable industries and energy efficient, sustainable homes to reduce bills, and also identifying the best possible locations for future residential areas, ideally close to major employment and commercial areas, allowing a choice to walk or cycle instead of driving.

Quality of life is improved when councils are transparent and accountable, and work respectfully with volunteers who want to create a better society. Easy-to-use software to report problems and see council’s responses about solutions would encourage residents to share their ideas with council and the community.

 Cr Steve Mepham web

Cr Steven Mepham
0404 485 585
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Cr Mepham has lived in Llangothlin Guyra for 30 years. Steve retired in April 2021 from the NSW Rural Fire Service where he was Superintendent, Fire Control Officer and Zone Manager for the New England Zone which included the former Guyra, Armidale, Walcha and Uralla LGAs. Over the past 20 years he has maintained a critical partnership with all councils.

Steve managed a team of six staff, 16 senior volunteers as a leadership group for the 1200 plus volunteers within the Zone. He is passionate about building capability / capacity and continuous improvement is a habit. Over a 40 year period he has built 14 start-up businesses.

Cr Mepham’s leadership was characterised by open and honest consultation at all levels of the organisation, Council and Community.

Steve’s legacy on retirement was the implementation and completion of a 15 year plan to replace all tanker trailers with a modern fleet of vehicles, the development of a 25 year Asset Management and Replacement plan and a 10 year plan to have a suitable brigade station for the 35 brigades.
12 years ago Steve embarked on a vision to see an emergency service precinct built at the Armidale Regional Airport. 

“There were a lot of people saying this would never happen including council itself. This required significant liaison with Council to make happen.”

The designs were grass roots driven via consultations with all stakeholders.
Stages 1 and 2 have been completed over a five year period and the final stage, a $7 million dollar Fire Control Centre is under construction and due to open in August this year to compliment the already completed $3 million Airbase, Logistics Centre and Winch Training Facility. 

Steve’s community leadership experience includes 10 years as Chair of the Guyra Lamb & Potato Festival Committee. This committee is not a committee of Council and pays its own bills and distributes $35,000 annually to the 35 local volunteer groups involved in the festival.

Steve is currently Chair of the Guyra District Chamber of Commerce and frequently makes representation on behalf of the business members. 

For the past five years Steve has had positions on ARC’s Business Advisory Committee, Economic Business and Development Committee, including the tourism subcommittee.

 Cr Brad Widders web

Cr Bradley Widders
0432 400 979
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An Anaiwan man born and raised in Armidale, Brad went to Drummond and Armidale High Schools. Brad has worked in different areas such as education, community and public services and is currently employed with the Department of Community and Justice. Brad has always believed in the value of community, has been on numerous boards and volunteered to assist community organisations. Cr Widders is an avid sports fan and has played all different sports including Rugby League for Narwan, Soccer for Westside and is a Life Member of the Ex Services Cricket Club. Brad has a strong focus on families and young people as a father and grandfather. Cr Widders is passionate in giving a voice to the Aboriginal community. 

 Cr Paul Packham web

Cr Paul Packham
0435 156 185
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Paul is an economics and financial management graduate of UNE and a Chartered Accountant since 1991. He has considerable experience providing strategic planning, guidance, and policy direction across finance, human resources, procurement, logistics and facilities management disciplines.  After a few years with an Armidale-based Chartered Accounting firm, he joined the public sector serving several years at UNE in senior financial positions and following that, a decade with the United Nations' Peacekeeping, War Crimes and Community Rebuilding efforts in senior finance and administrative roles in The Hague, Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and New York.  More recently as Director, Corporate Services at UNE Partnerships, he previously worked for a training and consultancy organisation in the United Arab Emirates as Director, Finance & Administration.  

Paul's reputation is built on an ability to maximise organisational resources in challenging budgetary environments and to develop financial, administrative and logistics frameworks in a straightforward, consistent and common-sense manner.  Paul's previous local government experience includes serving as an independent member of Armidale’s Economic Development Committee, Uralla Shire’s Audit Risk & Improvement Committees and as an active member of the Ebor Community Group.

With experience owning and operating restaurants and other small businesses he currently runs a cattle property in the Wollomombi/Hillgrove district and previously in Ebor.
Paul brings a ‘Whole of Community and Whole of Region’ approach to local government and believes it is our differences that ultimately bring us together.

 Cr Jon Galletly web

Cr Jon Galletly
0476 797 575
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Cr Galletly was born in Armidale on 16 September 1958 at Armidale hospital.

Growing up he attended the Demonstration School which is now Armidale City Public School and really enjoyed his years there. He then went to Armidale High School and stayed there for just over two years. 

“All I wanted to do was work in the bush with my horses and dogs and go shooting, as young boys did back then, you had to be 14 and 9 months to legally leave school, so I left and started work as a Station Hand, and back then I got $25 a week.”

For the first couple of years Jon worked on property’s at a few different places, Rockvale, Bundarra, Guyra, Ben Lomond, and then back to Armidale to work on a horse stud. After getting knocked-around by horses he decided to stay in the horse industry but thought maybe making saddles might be safer rather than ridding in them. After unsuccessfully trying to get a job in the bush as an apprentice saddler, Jon eventually got a start with a company called J P Talty and Son that was located at Cunningham Lane near the corner of Pitt and Goulburn Streets in Sydney.

“The city crew could smell the gum leaves on me and gave me the nick name ‘Armidale’ for obvious reasons. I lived mainly around the Eastern Suburbs and therefore on weekends I filled my time very differently to what I would be doing in Armidale.”

After completing his four year apprenticeship in Sydney he returned to Armidale and opened a Saddlery on Marsh Street. In 1984 he married his wife, whom he affectionately calls ‘Chooky’ and had three daughters Jasmine, Abbiline and Samantha that have given Jon and Chooky nine wonderful grandchildren.

“Chooky still runs the saddlery and I put in a few hours every now and again, but it doesn’t take much for me to drop everything in the saddlery and do the Council work that I have committed to do, sometimes enjoyable and sometimes not so enjoyable.”

Jon credits his wonderful wife for putting up with him and dropping everything at the saddlery
to take on a cause for the community, but as Jon tells his Chooky, it’s just the way he is.

Cr Galletly is looking forward to being a part of the Armidale Region and moving forward during the next term of this council, working with the new councillors and the fresh approach they bring.