Councillor John Bonham is the first employee of Laois County Council, the first native of Abbeyleix to be elected Cathaoirleach and the first bearded Cathaoirleach in over 90 years, according to out-going Cathaoirleach Cllr James Deegan.
Cllr Deegan wished Cllr Bonham well as he began his year as the new Chairman of Laois County Council. Cllr Bonham was elected at the Council’s AGM, which was held in the Council Chambers, last Monday.
He was proposed and seconded by his party colleagues,Cllrs Marty Phelan and Michael Lalor. Fianna Fail nominated Cllr Jerry Lodge for the position, but he was defeated by 14 votes to 11. Cllr Bonham said thanked the members for their support. “In the words of the song, I’m an ordinary man and I do my best. This is what I will do for the council and its members.
“We all have a job to do and that is to work with the management and staff for the advancement of the county for Joe and Mary Citizen.”
He remembered former members of the council, who he was elected with in 1999, that have since passed away and recalled how he first became interested in politics. He said his one regret since being elected in 1999, was that he hadn’t become involved in local politics ten years earlier.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly was the first to congratulate Cllr Bonham, on behalf of Fianna Fail. “It’s a great day for your family and for the western area. I know you will give it 110 per cent.”
Cllr Fennelly said the new Cathaoirleach was a great community man and a great worker. “You will get our support when it is for the betterment of Laois,” Cllr Fenelly told his first cousin. Rathdowney’s Cllr John King said he had learned a lot from Cllr Bonham from sitting beside him for the last two years. County Manager, Peter Carey said economic development and tourism would be the new Cathaoirleach’s top priorities.
He noted that Cllr Bonham was an accomplished horticulturist and a proud member of the council choir. Cllr Willie Aird was elected to the position of vice-chair.