Council re-elects Beard as mayor

At the helm: Councillor Jo Beard entered her third term as mayor following a five to two vote on Tuesday night, with Cr Neil Trotter elected as the deputy mayor.

CORANGAMITE Shire councillor Jo Beard was returned to the role of mayor for a third term on Tuesday night.

However, gaining the position was not tension free, with first-term councillor Simon Illingworth throwing his hat in the ring in a bid to challenge the “status quo”.

Cr Beard said she had received an “overwhelming” outpouring of support from community members in the past month, which had helped cement her decision to run for a third term as mayor.

She believed her continued involvement with the wider community, as well as relationships formed in the past two terms in mayor would hold her in good stead for the coming term.

“I really love to bring people along with me on the journey. I really believe in that whole teamwork environment,” Cr Beard said.

“As mayor, the interests of the council are above that of your own.”

Cr Beard said she had the full support of her family.

“I do appreciate we (as councillors) couldn’t do this without our families,” she said.

“I don’t ever take anything for granted.”

In an impassioned speech ahead of the vote – which was eventually won in Cr Beard’s favour five to two – Cr Illingworth said change required courage.

“After 12 months (as a councillor) I’m told I don’t know the ropes, the fact is, I don’t think I need to know the ropes,” he said.

“I would rather be right than to learn the ropes.”

Cr Illingworth said he was instrumental in a number of concept policies for the shire which he felt had largely been ignored or claimed as another person’s idea.

“I work hard, I have a young family. Identifying problems in the region, coming up with solutions and future concepts takes time, time away from my children,” he said.

“So when you announce major concepts to the media and fail to recognise me as the author, I feel cheated, so does my family. Why would I bother?”

Being a mayor was about more than attending meetings and photo opportunities, according to Cr Illingworth.

“Being a mayor doesn’t make you a leader, it just gives you an opportunity to lead,” he said.

Councillors also voted for the first time to elect a deputy mayor, with Cr Neil Trotter and Cr Bev McArthur receiving nominations for the position.

Cr McArthur, who referred to former prime minister Bob Menzies’ 75 year-old ‘Forgotten People’ radio broadcast in her election speech.

She indicated the shire could learn lessons from the speech to ensure the ‘lifters not the leaners’ were advocated for.

“I am particularly concerned to represent those lifters in our shire, including the rural ratepayers who contribute approximately 80 per cent of rate revenue, while around 80 per cent of our budget is spent in towns,” Cr McArthur said.

“In 12 months on this council, I believe I have been a contributor, not a seat warmer.

“Yes, I’m political. As councillors, we are in the business of politics because politics is about people. Politics is also about philosophy and policy.

“I’m interested in attending meetings, inquiries, forums and deputations – only if we achieve outcomes.”

Cr McArthur said meeting attendance alone was not a measure of success.

In comparison, Cr Trotter’s speech was short and sharp, instead believing in the “sometimes less is more” approach.

“You know me, I’ve been here for five years and the community knows me, I think I have the community’s support,” he said.

Cr Trotter defeated Cr McArthur for the role of deputy mayor five votes to two.

Councillors also voted to keep the mayor term at one year.

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