Former Deni councillors shunned in Edward River election
Residents and representatives of the former Conargo Shire will dominate the first Edward River Council.
The election result was officially declared yesterday morning, with five former Conargo Shire councillors — Norm Brennan, Mac Wallace, Peter McCrabb, Norm McAllister and Nick Metcalfe — given the nod by voters.
One of two newcomers to council, Marg Bull, is also a long-term resident of the former shire.
Only two former Deniliquin Council councillors — Ashley Hall and Pat Fogarty — were elected. The other newcomer to council is Peta Betts.
Cr Brennan, who is expected to be the council’s inaugural mayor, was the first to be officially elected after gaining more than 20 per cent of votes. The immediate past Conargo Shire mayor said the results show the community wanted change, but also experience.
He also said he expected the strong Conargo presence would not influence decision making, adding that each of the former Conargo Shire councillors also has strong connections to Deniliquin.
‘‘I think the result shows the community was ready for a change and I think it highlights that people have seen what was done in the old Conargo Shire, and perhaps what was not done in Deniliquin,’’ Cr Brennan said.
‘‘It is worth noting, however, that many of those former Conargo Shire councillors elected have lived predominantly in the Deniliquin township for some time.
‘‘What we have in reality is a good balance of urban and rural knowledge on our council, which reflects what the community wants.
‘‘That good balance includes having three women on the council as well as a couple of new bloods and a mix of young and old.
‘‘I think it is a good team with a diverse range of knowledge and opinions.
‘‘We now have a good management structure in place (for Edward River Council) and we have a good range of councillors who can aid and abet that structure.
‘‘This council can go forward and deliver quality services to the community.’’
Cr Brennan and former Deniliquin councillor Pat Fogarty were the only two candidates to be elected on first preference votes.
Cr Brennan comfortably exceeded the 509 vote quota with 1028 first preference votes, while Cr Fogarty, who is expected to serve as deputy mayor, polled 514 primaries.
Following the distribution of preferences, immediate past Deniliquin Council mayor Ashley Hall was the next to be elected, followed by Mac Wallace, Norm McAllister, Marg Bull, Peter McCrabb, Peta Betts and Nick Metcalfe.
Cr Brennan said with the election now completed, it is time to get down to the real business of running the council.
But he warned the merger transition would still take some time to finalise.
‘‘It won’t happen in a day or even a month, it will take years of concentrated effort,’’ he said.
‘‘Using the former Conargo Shire and Windouran merger as an example, it took three years for two very like-minded councils to get on top of everything — history is a great teacher.’’
Cr Hall, who served as the government appointed Edward River Council adminis- trator since the merger in May 2016, agreed the hard part was not yet over.
‘‘We do have some strong rural representation and I think there will be a steep learning curve for them in knowing how to support the town as well as the rural,’’ Mr Hall said.
‘‘They need to adapt to the challenge of the urban environment, but I am confident they can do that.
‘‘It was not easy being under administrations, but now we have a new elected council we have to continue to move forward.
‘‘The merger is in the past and de-mergers are off the table, and we need to work 100 per cent together to see the positive framework constructed in the last 16 months move forward.’’
Edward River Council will hold its first official council meeting on Thursday, September 21. It will be held in the chambers at the council customer service office in Cressy St, Deniliquin from 5pm, and is open to the public.
The meeting will begin with the internal election of the mayor, and then deputy mayor.