Mayor putting her hand up for re-election
The past 12 months have passed in the blink of an eye for Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson.
She was one of only three councillors who survived for another term at last year’s council elections, and following that, she was quickly instated to the role of mayor by her fellow councillors.
But that role may — or may not — come to an end for Cr Sanderson at a special meeting to be held tonight, when Mitchell Shire’s nine councillors elect a mayor and deputy mayor for the next 12 months.
The mayor is elected annually, but current mayors can be elected for a successive term by their fellow councillors if they wish.
While Cr Sanderson is keen to take on the role for another 12 months, she said there were others who had declared their intentions to nominate for mayor.
‘‘When I was elected 12 months ago, with six of the nine councillors being new, they all basically just looked over to me and said ‘I think we need someone with experience in this first year’ and because it was my second term as councillor, I was happy to do it,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s been really enjoyable to be honest. I actually didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I have, but it’s been great so I would love to do it again.
‘‘Because you’re representing council, you get to meet so many fantastic people from all across the shire and across the state, and they are doing great things for the community, so that’s been really enjoyable.’’
It’s certainly been a whirlwind 12 months for the popular councillor.
While most residents would only see her when she’s smiling for photos or bobbing up at events around the shire, there’s certainly a lot more to the role of mayor than meets the eye.
‘‘By law there are extra duties the mayor has that other councillors don’t have,’’ she said.
‘‘So obviously you’re the face of council at events and meetings, you’re the media spokesperson for council, and you’re also helping to guide councillors in their role.
‘‘The phrase that’s used that applies to most Victorian mayors is that they are ‘the first among equals’, so a mayor can’t go in to the chamber and dictate to the others and say ‘we are not doing that’. No, they chair the meetings and they have to be impartial. I have just one vote among nine, so in that sense I have no more power than the others.
‘‘The past six months in particular have whizzed by for me.
‘‘In the four-year term of Council, that first six months is probably the busiest because by law you have to create a new council plan for the next four years, and then there’s the budget and a few other statutory things that you have to have sorted in the first six months and others you have to do in the first year, so it’s been really busy. Busy but enjoyable at the same time.’’
Cr Sanderson contributes much of that enjoyment to the eight other councillors that are by her side.
She firmly believes that this group could be ‘‘the best council we’ve ever had’’, and has nothing but good words to say about the team she is working alongside.
‘‘This new council is really good. They’re intelligent, they’re mature, and they’re thinking about the community more than themselves so that’s really great,’’ Cr Sanderson said.
‘‘They’ve all got different perspectives on things because of different life experiences, and we just sort of talk about things and come to a decision as a group.
‘‘Really, we’re just about getting things done. I think probably the biggest achievement we’ve made as a council in the first 12 months is that we have come together as a cohesive team which makes life so much easier, and you get so much more done than if you’re distracted by other things.’’
The current crop of councillors are certainly getting things moving, with the new council plan, a positive budget, and locally, the Seymour Structure Plan kicking off.
Reflecting on the past year, Cr Sanderson said the new council had achieved so much.
‘‘The current council was sworn in last November, and by February we were working with the community to develop a number of crucial plans, including the four-year Council Plan, our 2017-18 Council Budget and long-term financial plan,’’ she said.
‘‘It has been a real team effort and the work the council has done during the past 12 months would not have been possible without councillors, council staff and the community all pulling in the same direction.’’
Community members are welcome to attend the Mayoral vote, which will be held from 7 pm tonight at the Broadford Council Chamber.
Crunch time: Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson is up for re-election tonight.