It took Ararat Rural City Council just six minutes to decide who will hold the position of mayor for the next 12 months last night, during a statutory Council meeting held in Ararat’s Shire Hall.
Councillor Jo Armstrong was the first to be nominated by outgoing Mayor Peter Beales, seconded by Councillor Bill Braithwaite. Councillor David Pettman then nominated longtime Councillor Gwenda Allgood for the position, seconded by Councillor Frank Deutsch.
Cr Beales spoke to his nomination, saying that he believes Cr Armstong has the character to be mayor and that such an appointment would send a positive message to the Ararat community as she is a rural resident in the municipality.
Cr Pettman then spoke, agreeing that Cr Armstong is an “outstanding candidate” as well as Cr Allgood. He said that Cr Allgood’s long service to Ararat’s Council meant she had a lot of experience to bring to the position.
It was then time for the pointy end of the meeting. Cr Beales, Fay Hull and Braithwaite voted for Cr Jo Armstrong as well as herself. Cr Allgood had the support of Cr Pettman and Cr Deutsch, meaning Cr Armstrong was elected four-three.
Cr Braithwaite was then nominated by Cr Beales for the role of deputy mayor, seconded by Cr Pettman. He was elected unopposed.
Cr Armstrong will fulfil the role of mayor throughout Council’s last 12-month term, undertaking the role with “empathy, curiosity, a determination to serve our council well, and (I hope) a sense of humour.”
“This is the fourth and final year of our council term, the time to ensure we have consolidated our council strategies from previous years with an eye to our municipality’s future and all the exciting possibilities it holds,” she said.
“I was encouraged by fellow councillors plus a diverse range of community members to stand for mayor and in doing so, assist in bridging from the current council term into the next.”
Cr Armstong wasn’t surprised by the second nomination last night but knew she had trust in Cr Beales, Braithwaite and Hull as they went into the vote.
“I intend to build on the foundation of clarity and fairness that Cr Peter Beales brought to the role,” she said.
“I am motivated by what the people of our municipality deserve: in plain English, this is ensuring councillors make the most of every opportunity to think over decisions carefully, raise funds and spend money wisely, and plan responsibly for the future.”
She will now put her focus into addressing Ararat’s housing shortage, and strengthening our economic opportunities that access to the East Grampians water pipeline extension will bring whilst in the role.
As well as, continuing work to manage the Council’s asset renewal gap, working hard to achieve the Council Plan objectives for 2020 and beginning to gain local interest for next year’s election.
“It is up to all of us to identify and encourage prospective candidates for next year’s local government election,” she said.
“A productive council will consist of people with sound decision-making and business management skills. Because, civic service done well contributes to quality of life across our community.”
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