New guard take reins of council
First-term councillor Pam Townshend was elected Shire president on Wednesday night, while newcomer Julia Meldrum from Cowaramup was sworn in as her deputy.
Although Cr Townshend nominated herself, the two women were virtually guaranteed the jobs with the support of allies Mike Smart and Naomi Godden.
The secret ballot gave four votes to each, individually trumping businesswoman Pauline McLeod for the two positions.
Ms McLeod was nominated by former Shire president and returned councillor Ian Earl, who told the Times he didn’t contest the presidency because he knew the numbers were against him.
The new four-member power bloc on the seven-member council leaves the conservatives in the minority and erstwhile green councillor Peter Lane as an independent.
Although voting choices were not disclosed to the Times, unhappiness about the new bloc campaigning for rookie candidates was aired on social media by ousted deputy Kylie Kennaugh who, along with Osmington’s Felicity Haynes failed to win return tickets at last weekend’s election (see Page 3).
On social media, Ms Kennaugh lamented the election of Cr Townshend for the presidency because she had only lived in the region “approx five years” (sic) and Cr
Meldrum as deputy despite being “elected first time to council five days ago”.
Cr Townshend told her peers she understood three colleagues did not vote for her in the top role, but believed the new council could work productively with Shire of Augusta-Margaret River staff as “one inclusive body”.
“I look forward to a couple of years excitement and working together,” she said on Wednesday night. Cr Earl took a back seat from his previous high-profile roles on the council’s standing committees, including the Bushfire Advisory Committee, on which he has played a leading role informed by years as a senior volunteer firefighter.