Ash­lee’s elec­tion pro­vides younger, fe­male voice in coun­cil cham­ber

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY STEVE KELLY skelly@ne­me­dia.com.au

ASH­LEE Fitz­patrick has taken up her new role as an in­com­ing coun­cil­lor for the Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta with en­thu­si­asm as the youngest ever to serve in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Ms Fitz­patrick, 19, was elected on Mon­day via a vote count­back, filling the role left va­cant due to the sud­den pass­ing of for­mer coun­cil­lor Ruth Amery last month.

Votes were tal­lied by pref­er­ences, which were redi­rected from Cr Amery, with pre­vi­ous in­di­vid­ual first pref­er­ence votes deemed null and void.

All un­suc­cess­ful can­di­dates for the City Ward were in the run­ning and Ms Fitz­patrick fin­ished on top with 1287 votes, with Greg Mirabella plac­ing sec­ond on 680, fol­lowed in order by Ge­orge Di­mopolous, Rus­sell Stone, Luke Davies and Dr Ju­lian Fidge.

With a pas­sion for youth is­sues, Ms Fitz­patrick, who is em­ployed by Junc­tion Sup­port Ser­vices, has iden­ti­fied that young peo­ple’s men­tal health will be at the fore­front as she takes up the coun­cil po­si­tion.

Ms Fitz­patrick, who had her pop Alan by her side when the re­sult was an­nounced, de­scribed the ap­point­ment as a“rev­o­lu­tion­ary” op­por­tu­nity.

“I’m grate­ful that young women are now on board and the youth per­spec­tive will come in and the dif­fer­ent age range and di­ver­sity is fan­tas­tic,” she said.

“I would like to thank every­one for their sup­port and it was an un­for­tu­nate chain of events that had to lead us here,” she said in ref­er­ence to Cr Amery’s pass­ing.

“I thank Ruth’s fam­ily and my con­do­lences to them.”

She con­ceded that it would be a learn­ing curve for her to start with on coun­cil but in­di­cated she won’t be afraid to put her opin­ions for­ward.

“I do have my opin­ions but I am quite open-minded and some­times you have to wait and get every­one’s point of view,” she said.

“Be­ing young I might see things from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and they might not like my opin­ions but that’s what the com­mu­nity wants.”

Be­yond her im­me­di­ate term on coun­cil Ms Fitz­patrick said she’ll work hard to make sure more youth put up their hand for coun­cil.

“If I had to be the first to do that, it was me who had to go ‘hey you know what, our views and opin­ions are im­por­tant to get this town mov­ing’,” she said.

Ms Fitz­patrick will be sworn in on Mon­day.

PHOTO: Steve Kelly

WELL DONE: Ash­lee Fitz­patrick is con­grat­u­lated by her pop, Alan Fitz­patrick, af­ter be­ing elected as the Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta coun­cil’s youngest ever coun­cil­lor.

PHOTO: Steve Kelly

MAK­ING IT OF­FI­CIAL: Re­turn­ing of­fi­cer Char­maine Morel (pic­tured, left) de­clared Ash­lee Fitz­patrick’s suc­cess af­ter a count­back of votes.

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