DEPARTING councillor Mick Van de Vreede has urged potential councillors to consider the social and environmental impacts of their decisions.
Cr Van de Vreede will serve on Knox Council for just two more weeks, before stepping aside from his long-term position representing Tirhatuan Ward.
He has been a long-time advocate for public transport, environmental issues and social and affordable housing in Knox.
Although he cited the need to take a break to spend time more time with the family — and to fish — as the reason behind his decision not to recontest Saturday week's elections, he hasn't ruled out a return to local politics in the future.
Speaking to the Weekly last week, Cr Van de Vreede said his advice for new and returning councillors this year was "it's not all about rates".
"It's not always bad when rates go up," he said.
"They're needed to fund services and I sometimes get a bit fearful they'll be so economically concerned and not think of the social and environment factors that are so important for the future."
During his time in office, Cr Van de Vreede was passionate about social and affordable housing and initiated the Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance — a group of seven councils.
Although the EAHA is still in its early stages, Cr Van de Vreede believes it will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
He also urged the community to change its perception of people in social or affordable housing. "These people have fallen on hard times and they need our help."
Cr Van de Vreede was also an active advocate for better transport in Knox and said he thought the planets were now starting to align for the Rowville Rail.
He said he was proud of the work the Eastern Transport Coalition — of which he is a member — had done and while there was a long way to go to improve services in Knox, there had been some big leaps forward.
Cr Van de Vreede said he had been honoured to represent his constituents since 2003.
"I like to fight for the battler — I like to take on the hard issues."
He warned candidates that being a councillor was "not just a hobby" and said the office of council should be held in the highest regard.