Bega councillors to choose a mayor on Friday

NOW that councillors have been elected to Bega Valley Shire Council, their first task will be to vote in the new mayor and deputy mayor at an extraordinary council meeting on Friday.

The first full council meeting is the following Tuesday.

Councillor Tony Allen has been mayor for the last two terms of council over the past eight years and said he will stand again.

“There are a huge range of projects, some partly finished, others on the way or in the planning stage and some significant decisions that need to be made,” Mr Allen told the Bega District News at the Tathra Wharf celebration on the weekend. 

He singled out the general manager’s contract being up for renewal.

“There is talk of a move to change things but I believe the staff need stability and to know council has a vision to do the best for the community.”

The process on Friday is for two councillors, one of whom can be the candidate, to nominate one of the councillors for mayor.

Nominations have to be received by the general manager Peter Tegart in writing prior to the meeting and councillors can nominate for both positions.

When there are three or more candidates, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is excluded before votes are taken again until there are just two candidates standing.

While Bega Valley Shire Council still has the councillors elect the mayor and deputy mayor, other councils including nearby Eurobodalla now have a popularly elected mayor voted on in the election.

Michael Britten was deputy mayor prior to the September 8 elections and said he would be standing, but probably only for mayor.

Russell Fitzpatrick said that he was seriously considering nominating for both positions.

“If councillors feel it’s time for a change then it’s good to have an alternative,” he said.

Sharon Tapscott polled well in the election but said: “No I won’t be throwing my hat into the ring. I do feel that people will be looking for change but I believe it should be those who have been there before and done their apprenticeship. I believe we’ll have more than just two people contesting the mayoral position and that will be good.”

Bill Taylor returns to council with previous experience.

He was a councillor from 2002, after the period of administration finished, and was re-elected in 2004.

He was deputy mayor for two terms in 2002 and 2003 but said that he was currently undecided whether to nominate or not.

He said that of the councillors elected, he had only worked with Tony Allen and Keith Hughes before and wanted to “get to know the other councillors over the next week or so” before making a decision.

It is possible that Cr Taylor could be a fourth nomination for mayor or be a candidate for deputy mayor.

New councillor, Kristy McBain said that she wouldn’t be nominating for either position but returning councillor Liz Seckold refused to comment to the Merimbula News Weekly, giving rise to speculation that she may go for the deputy mayor’s position to provide a gender balance at the top. 

Councillor Keith Hughes meanwhile told the Bega District News that he expected Ann Mawhinney and himself would both be standing for mayor.

“I hope there will be at least five candidates, the more the merrier,” Cr Hughes said.

“I think it is important for the community to see how councillors vote so I will be moving for an open vote by a show of hands, not a secret ballot.

“In my opinion it would be good to have a woman as mayor. I have also offered to nominate Liz Seckold for the position of deputy mayor.”

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