The new Bega Valley Shire Council heralds a significant voice for women after six female candidates, Jo Dodds, Kristy McBain, Robyn Bain, Cathy Griff, Liz Seckold and Sharon Tapscott, were elected out of a possible total of nine.
Although three of the women are new to council, Cathy Griff, Jo Dodds and Robyn Bain, Ms Bain has considerable political experience having run for Senate as a National Party member in 2004 and worked in Parliament House as well as having been a supporter of the forestry industry for 15 years. Ms Griff replaces Keith Hughes as the voice of The Greens on council while Jo Dodds has been an outspoken opponent of the removal of trees from Littleton Gardens, Bega.
New male candidate, Mitchell Nadin will join previous councillors, Tony Allen and Russell Fitzpatrick.
Mr Fitzpatrick earlier believed he had not made the cut and admitted his early call would probably cost him a few drinks over the weekend. Preferences played a role in his election seeing him collect the numbers to move above both Daryl Dobson and Michael Brittain after initial first preference votes were counted.
Mr Fitzpatrick will be keen to see major sporting facilities in the shire receive the necessary help for them to improve their grounds.
Both Ms McBain and Ms Tapscott said they were delighted with the female majority and reiterated their commitment to initiatives that would provide economic growth for the area. Ms Tapscott said: “I want to see everything that is currently on the go, stays on the go. I want to see the work on the Australasia advance and I don’t want to see the wharf extension at Eden interfered with.
“I also want to make sure that the lies are rebutted that the council was in crisis; it isn’t,” Ms Tapscott said.
However Ms Bain said that the results resoundingly showed the previous four years were not the way to go.
“The community is telling us they are not happy; two former mayors have not been re-elected,” Ms Bain said.
“I am over the moon with the votes I received particularly from the southern part of the shire and I hope I can deliver for them. Eden has absolute potential but has been treading water for some time,” Ms Bain said.
Ms Seckold, was also delighted with the number of women elected and said she had a lot of unfinished projects particularly youth, suicide prevention and Indigenous issues.
Mr Allen, who went to Moruya to watch the vote count was quick to welcome the six women, which he said “could only be for the better”.
“We have a real blend of youth and new councillors,” Mr Allen said.
Without doubt the new mix of councillors provides an interesting blend of the previous and the new and those who supported the purchase of infrastructure and buildings and those who campaigned against it.
Bega Valley Shire general manager, Leanne Barnes congratulated the new councillors on their election; they will all attend an induction day on Monday, September 26 followed on September 28 by the first council meeting at which the mayor and deputy mayor will be elected. Likely candidates could be Tony Allen who has been mayor before and Kristy McBain although Liz Seckold and Russell Fitzpatrick have been deputy mayors previously and Ms Tapscott commented that it might be nice to see a female mayor and deputy.