Council’s new dawn

Council’s new dawn

The new East Gippsland Shire Council has been confirmed with only two councillors from the previous mob making it across the line in immediate past mayor, John White and longtime councillor, Mark Reeves.

The other seven councillors who made the cut are Kirsten Van Diggele, Sonia Buckley, Mendy Urie, Arthur Allen, Trevor Stow, Jane Greacen and Tom Crook.

Mendy Urie was a previous East Gippsland Shire councillor for two terms in the 2000s and mayor from 2006-2009.

Sonia Buckley is the daughter of veteran councillor and outgoing deputy mayor, Ben Buckley.

At 25 years of age, Ms Van Diggele is the youngest ever councillor to be elected to the East Gippsland Shire.

Polling the most primary votes of anyone, Ms Van Diggele was the first name out of the Victorian Electoral Commission’s computer on Monday afternoon taking 3337 primary votes in the count.

Ms Urie and Ms Buckley took second and third positions with 3041 and 2598 votes respectively.

Once preferences were distributed, Tom Crook, of Eagle Point, managed to push out sitting councillor, Dick Ellis, to claim the eighth spot, while Marlo’s Mark Reeves, just made it into the ninth position with a primary vote of 1535.

In all 34,188 registered voters returned their ballot papers in the elections, with 3006 declared informal.

Speaking to the Advertiser after the count, Mr Stow, of Bairnsdale, said he was delighted to be elected and grateful to those who had voted for him.

Mr Stow was the fifth councillor elected on 2118 votes, behind Arthur Allen who took 2555 of the count.

“It will be an exciting time for the new council and I’m looking forward to it,” Mr Stow said.

Mr Allen, of Lakes Entrance, said he was “relieved” the counting was over and looked forward to working with the new council team.

Dr Greacen said she was “very excited”, even though it had been “a bit nerve wracking” as the votes were slowly tallied over a couple of weeks.

While she was in seventh position with a primary vote of 1579, once preferences were allocated, Dr Greacen took the sixth seat allocated in the council chamber.

Mr Crook, who fell just outside the margin on primary votes needed to secure a seat was catapulted from 10th to eighth spot once preferences were allocated.

“I’m a bit surprised,” Mr Crook told the Advertiser when informed he’d secured a seat on the council.

He later took to Twitter to announce his success tweeting: “Looks like I just got elected to the East Gippsland Shire Council! Thanks everybody for your support. Lots to do.” Mr White, who was the mayor in the previous council, said while he hoped to receive another term as mayor in order to complete unfinished business, he said it would be up to the new council to decide.

Ms Urie said she was “very pleased and excited” to be elected.

“I’ve a good feeling we’ll be a positive team,” she said.

Three former councillors in the 2012- 2016 East Gippsland Shire Council, Jane Rowe, Peter Neal and Jeff McNeil, were unsuccessful in their attempts to regain a seat on council, although both Ms Rowe and Mr Neal each received well over a 1000 votes each.

East Gippsland Shire chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, said he looked forward to working with the new council over the next four years.

“We’ve doubled our female representation from two to four, so there’s a good gender mix and the age differences reflect our community,” he said.

“So we’ve got some enthusiastic new talent and some good experience as well. “Our team is very much looking forward to working with the new council who play a critical role in supporting our community.” A statutory meeting of the council will take place on November 17 to elect the mayor.

Mr Basford said it was up to council to decide if they also wanted to elect a deputy mayor.

IMAGE: The new East Gippsland Shire Council was announced on Monday. Pictured are Mendy Urie, Jane Greacen, Trevor Stow, Arthur Allen, Kirsten Van Diggele and Tom Crook. Absent: Sonia Buckley and Mark Reeves. K444-7934