The leaders of the first ever incarnation of the Snowy Valleys Council will be two Tumut shire old hands: James Hayes as Mayor, and John Larter as Deputy Mayor.
Mr Hayes, an Adelong resident and Head Teacher at Tumut High School, was widely expected to be elected Mayor and defeated the other nominee for the role, Margaret Isselmann. The vote count was not announced.
However, the position of Deputy was considered by some as a minor upset, with conjecture that one of the two Tumbarumba councillors would take the position. Julia Ham was nominated, but missed out by one vote.
“[Bruce Wright and I are] disappointed that someone from the Tumbarumba shire didn’t get on, and also disappointed that there’s not a woman,” she said.
“I guess we just didn’t canvas enough, but it’s okay.
“It is what is it, we’ve got to accept the judges call, and it just means that we’ll have to remain strong,” added Mr Wright.
However, Mr Hayes said that, as a member of a smaller community, he had an affinity with the towns of the former Tumbarumba shire.
“I think unity is the main thing, having a united council, and I think we have a core group of councillors who will be very positive with that,” he said.
“I don’t have mayoral experience, but certainly I’ve got some life experience and also some local government experience as well. I think there’s some major things we need to consider: we need to consider growing our community, we need to consider growing our population, and we need to look at the big-ticket items, and for that we need to look to the state government.”
Cr Isselmann was nominated for both Mayor and Deputy Mayor, but was unsuccessful on both fronts. Julia Ham was the only additional nominee, for Deputy Mayor.
The election took place at the first ever meeting of the new Snowy Valleys Council yesterday, where each new councillor also made their Oath of Affirmation: Julia Ham, Bruce Wright, Cate Cross, Andrianna Benjamin, Cor Smit, Margaret Isselmann, Geoff Pritchard, James Hayes, and John Larter.
Mr Larter said he believed the other councillors had made an “excellent leadership team choice.”
“I’m sure James will do an excellent job and I’ll give him all the support and assistance he needs to get the job done,” he said.
“I learned a lot from the first transition into local government, I think it’s a big learning process and I’ll be better this time around.
“I think [having experience] will pay dividends, especially when we already have relationships with other levels of government and community leaders, and in fact the community itself.
“I think it’s a good start, there’s a lot to learn and it is difficult for a newcomer.”