Ruth McRae was elected as mayor of Murrumbidgee Council at the new entity’s first official meeting on Thursday.
The council was formed at an election on September 9 this year, finalising the transition of the merger of the former Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee shires.
Cr McRae, the immediate past Jerilderie Shire mayor, won the vote from one-time Murrumbidgee Shire mayor Phillip Wells in the internal election.
Cr Wells also challenged for deputy mayor, however former Murrumbidgee Shire councillor Robert Black was given the nod for the role.
Both Cr McRae and Cr Black will serve a two-year term at the helm of the new council, as per changes to the Local Government Act.
Cr McRae said she considers it a privilege to be elected as the inaugural mayor of the Murrumbidgee Council.
‘‘The new Murrumbidgee Council has a team of experienced councillors at the table committed to making our council the best it can be,’’ she said.
‘‘Our new council will provide many challenges and many opportunities — it is the elected bodies’ responsibility to rise to the challenge, identify the opportunities, and in consultation with council management ensure we have the capacity and capability to sustain and grow across our council area.’’
As mayor, Cr McRae hopes to capitalise on what she describes as ‘‘an exciting new chapter for the entire region’’.
‘‘We have three unique communities and we need to encourage and promote the different products and services and collectively market our council footprint as a desirable location of choice for industry and business development,’’ she said.
‘‘It is vital that we continue to advocate for equitable and affordable access to essential services for our community into the future. Services such as power, digital connectivity, both NBN and mobile phone coverage, secure water delivery for our town water supplies and agricultural requirements.
‘‘We also need a fair and ongoing avenue to road funding that recognises its importance in supporting our prime economic driver.
‘‘I’d like to see a greater opportunity for Local Government to become the preferred contractor in the delivery of services across roads, health, welfare and education. There is a lot to be done, but I am sure that as a team we can achieve great things.’’
Eight of the nine elected Murrumbidgee Council representatives were sworn in at Thursday’s meeting. Austin Evans, who was selected as The Nationals candidate for the NSW Murray days earlier, was an apology.