Who’ll lead?

September 20, 2017

There could be a vote to see who will lead the newly formed Murrumbidgee Council when it meets for the first time tomorrow.

Ruth McRae, the former Jerilderie Council mayor, has confirmed she will stand for the mayoral duties.

Another potential candidate could be Phillip Wells, who would not rule out standing when contacted by the Southern Riverina News this week.

Cr Wells, a former mayor of the Murrumbidgee Shire which merged with Jerilderie Shire last year, was elected to the Murrumbidgee ward comfortably with almost 33 per cent of first preference votes (192 votes) in the local government election on September 9.

Declared Wednesday last week, the election also saw Robert Curphey elected before preferences were counted. He polled 154 first preference votes.

The third councillor elected to the ward based on preferences was Gavin Gilbert, leaving Paul Goodsall, Gordon Beaumont and Allan Strachan without a place on the new council.

There was no election in the Jerilderie or Murrumbidgee East wards, with the required three candidate nominations received for each.

Automatically appointed to council as a result were Cr McRae, Gaila Smith and Faith Bryce in Jerilderie and Austin Evans, Robert Black and Christine Chirgwin in Murrumbidgee East.

All nine councillors were members of the former Murrumbidgee and Jerilderie shires.

Cr Evans last week ruled out standing for the mayor’s role, at the same time he confirmed he would be standing for The Nationals pre-selection for the NSW Murray by-election.

He has since been chosen as The Nationals candidate, which could see him leave his role on council within the next two years if he is elected to Parliament.

Cr Wells this week said he was yet to make a decision regarding his mayoral aspirations.

All other elected councillors have ruled out standing for the top job.

Cr McRae said she was ready and willing to lead the newly formed council, and for the challenges it would bring.

‘‘I have a really strong desire to represent my community at local, regional and state level,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m prepared for the time and commitment, with a supportive husband who enables me to be involved as much as possible.

‘‘Small rural communities make a really strong contribution to life in general and we as a community need to be actively involved so they do remain viable and sustainable.’’

Cr McRae said she had no preconceived notions about who may be elected deputy, but encouraged the other councillors to give it some thought.

‘‘I’m very confident from the people sitting at the table there will be a very capable mayor and deputy mayor,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m sure if I were successful as mayor, I would have a very good back-up.

‘‘Whoever it is will be welcome and very supportive as will the seven other people.’’

The mayor and deputy mayor will be elected by the councillors at the inaugural Murrumbidgee Council meeting tomorrow.

The meeting will be held at the Jerilderie chambers, from 10am. The public is welcome to attend.

Murrumbidgee Council general manager Craig Moffitt congratulated the newly elected representatives, and said he is ‘‘looking forward to working with the councillors to achieve great things for our communities and this region’’.

‘‘The primary role of a councillor is to represent their ward and the people who live in it.

‘‘Councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council, as well as being an advocate for local residents while keeping them informed about the issues that affect them.

‘‘All nine have been councillors previously and Local Representation Committee members, which means they are all familiar with the priorities and visions for the future of Murrumbidgee Council.’’

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