Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar people, and pay our respects to elders past and present.
To my fellow Councillors, thank you so much for your support in voting tonight for me to be your Mayor. It will be an honour to represent our community, with you beside me.
I’d like to acknowledge Cr Wellington who also nominated for the position, and thank her for the commitment she has already made to support me in this role.
Cr Wellington brings an enormous amount of experience and skill to our Council, and has demonstrated how committed she is to our community. I know this will be of great value to our team.
Thank you also to the executive team who this week have worked so hard to help us settle in to our new roles.
The election of seven new councillors to the Surf Coast Shire is an indication that our community is looking for change. It is such an exciting time for us all.
This is a new council, and we have an opportunity to set a new way forward, with a new agenda, a new team … and, now, a new leader.
Building good relationships with each other, with the council officers, and with the community will be the foundation of our success.
My focus in the first term of Council will be to bring people together to engage, to really listen and to understand each other and our community’s needs.
During my campaign, it became clear to me that the community wants a positive, proactive and collaborative Council that can get on with the job of leading, to create the kind of place in which we all want to live.
If you want to draw any conclusions from the way people voted, I would point to the fact that Cr Gazzard, as a Green’s candidate, received the most votes of anyone in the Shire. I know others on our team also led campaigns with a strong environmental focus.
This tells us that climate change is a key concern for our community, and Council voting for the climate emergency last year was the first step in taking action to mitigate this.
I expect this will be a key focus on our agenda ... but more immediately, supporting our local business, community organisations, residents and visitors, in the COVID recovery must be a priority.
When I look around at the Councillors who will be representing our community for the next four years, I am inspired by the expertise this Council will bring to the table.
As a group, we offer such great diversity, energy and experience, from backgrounds including health, law, engineering, data, education, architecture, defence, finance, transport, communications, marketing, environment and, of course, local government.
This week, we as Councillors have started to gain greater insight into the scope of work currently being undertaken by our Council officers.
I look forward to building positive and productive relationships with fellow Councillors and the Council staff to help achieve the organisation’s vision, to help our community and environment to thrive.
We are all committed to serving our community. I know we all love where we live, and we want to reflect that in the decisions we make as a Council.
We will work together to come up with a shared vision that we can take to our community and rebuild their pride in the Surf Coast Shire Council.